Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where Do Iraqis Get Their Information And News From?

In 2009 D3 Systems contracted a Turkish company to survey Iraqis on what were their main sources of information. The results showed that the vast majority of Iraqis watched television more than any other media source, but that the Internet was growing in importance. While the individual stations and papers people read today might be slightly different four years later, the general findings still likely hold true. The most important of which was that Iraqis were widely skeptical of what they heard, read, and saw from their media, both foreign and domestic.

In November 2009, the Turkish company KA Research Limited was contracted by D3 Systems to survey Iraqis about their media habits. The study included 2,200 people across all 18 of Iraq’s provinces with a +/- ratio of 2%. KA asked 132 questions total. The firm had been in Iraq for seven years, operated 28 offices across the nation, and had been doing interviews with Iraqis since 2003. The report broke the country up into three regions. The north consisted of Dohuk, Irbil, Sulaymaniya, and Tamim. The central area was made up of Ninewa, Salahaddin, Diyala, Baghdad, and Anbar, while the south was Karbala, Babil, Wasit, Qadisiyah, Najaf, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Muthanna, and Basra. 2009 was a perfect time to ask Iraqis questions as the civil war had just ended, and the public was able to return to their normal lives.

Television is by far the most popular form of media in Iraq

The first questions involved what types of media did people use the most. 100% of respondents watched TV. That was followed by 24% listening to the radio, 3% reading newspapers, and 3% using the Internet. Amongst television viewers 72% watched Iraqi satellite TV, 46% watched international Arabic satellite TV, 32% viewed local television using an antenna, 17% liked foreign satellite TV that wasn’t in Arabic, and 7% subscribed to cable TV. With radio listeners, 24% favored Iraqi radio stations compared to 17% foreign. Television was obviously the most popular form of media used with an average number of 16 million people using it each day. That compared to seven million who used the Internet or listened to the radio, with the newspapers in last place with five million. Iraqis also watched TV the longest more than anything else. When asked what type of media they spent 45 minutes with each day, television came in first at 58%, an average of 9.3 million people, Internet was second at 69%, 4.9 million, followed by the radio 10%, 700,000 people, and newspapers at 5%, 300,000 Iraqis. When broken down by region, TV was most popular in the north. They also listened to the radio more than used the Internet, but they surfed the web longer when online. In central and southern Iraq, after TV, people spent the most time on the Internet. All this showed the dominance of television over all other forms of media. Usage was changing however with the Internet becoming more and more popular. With the civil war over, access to the Internet probably increased as it was easier to install in people’s homes now that they did not have to worry about violence as much.

Most Popular Media Sources, Nov. 2009

Iraq TV
Iraq Satellite TV
International Satellite TV (Arabic)
Aerial TV
Subscription Cable TV
Foreign Satellite TV (not Arabic)
Iraq Newspaper
Iraq Radio
Foreign Radio
Mobile Phone

Avg. number of Iraqis using each media source per day nationally, Nov. 09
TV 16 mil
Internet 7 mil
Radio 7 mil
Newspaper 5 mil

% of population that spent at least 45 min. with each media type nationally per day, Nov. 2009
TV 58%
Internet 69%
Radio 10%
Newspapers 5%

Avg. number of people using each media source per day in northern Iraq, Nov. 09
TV 4 mil
Radio 2 mil
Internet 1 mil
Newspaper 1 mil

% of population that spent at least 45 min. with each media type northern Iraq per day, Nov. 09
TV 65%
Internet 22%
Radio 7%
Newspaper 5%

Avg. number of people using each media source per day in central Iraq, Nov. 09
TV 7 mil
Internet 4 mil
Radio 2 mil
Newspaper 2 mil

% of population that spent at least 45 min. with each media type central Iraq per day, Nov. 09
TV 57%
Internet 18%
Radio 9%
Newspaper 0%

Avg. number of people using each media source per day in southern Iraq, Nov. 09
TV 6 mil
Radio 3 mil
Internet 2 mil
Newspaper 2 mil

% of population that spent at least 45 min. with each media type central Iraq per day, Nov. 09
TV 52%
Internet 27%
Radio 12%
Newspaper 11%

Depending upon which region people lived in they watched different television stations. When asked to name all the TV stations that they watched Al Sharqia was the most popular at 82%, followed by Al Arabiya 74%, and Al Sumaria 72%. In the north, Kurdish networks were obviously the most popular with Kurdistan TV at 94%,  and Gali Kurdistan and Zagros TV 93% each. In the central Iraq, the MBC network came in first 82% and third 68%, with Al Sharqiya in second at 81%. Finally, in the south Al Sharqiya was first, 95%, Al Arabiya was second, 91%, and Al Sumaria TV was third, 90%. When asked which of these sources did they trust the most, few thought much of any of them. Nationally, Al Sharqia was trusted the most, but that was only at 33%. In the north, stations fared a little better with Kurdistan TV at 50%, KNN TV at 41%, and KurdSAT at 37%, but all the rest were below 25%. Al Sharqia for example, was at only 11%. In the north, it did better at 42%, but the rest were below 25%, while in the south Al Iraqiya fared the best at 44%. Today, the individual stations that were watched might have changed, but an important point was revealed. The reason why people watched so many different stations might be because they didn’t trust them, and therefore sought as many different sources of information as possible. If true, that would be a very good trait of the country, and was perhaps the result of coming out of a dictatorship where everything was controlled by the state. That might have created a healthy skepticism of all media.

Top 10 television stations that Iraqis watched nationally, Nov. 09
Al Sharqia 82%
Al Arabiya 74%
Al Sumaria 72%
Al Hurra 71%
MBC 1 71%
Al Iraqiya 67%
Al Baghdadia 66%
MBC 2 58%
MBC Action 55%
Abu Dhabi TV 55%

Top 10 television stations that Iraqis watched in northern Iraq, Nov. 09
Kurdistan TV 94%
Gali Kurdistan 93%
Zagros TV 93%
KurdSAT 93%
Newroz TV 89%
Vin TV 81%
Al Jazeera 78%
MBC 1 78%
Al Hurra 73%
MBC 2 73%

Top 10 television stations that Iraqis watched in central Iraq, Nov. 09
MBC 1 82%
Al Sharqiya TV 81%
MBC 2 68%
Al Arabiya 66%
Melody TV 65%
MBC Action 63%
Al Sumaria TV 61%
Al Baghdadia 60%
Al Hurra 58%
MBC 4 58%

Top 10 television stations that Iraqis watched in southern Iraq, Nov. 09
Al Sharqiya TV 95%
Al Arabiya 91%
Al Sumaria TV 90%
Al Hurra 88%
Al Iraqiya 88%
Al Baghdadia 85%
Al Forat 68%
MBC 1 52%
Al Anwar TV 46%
Abu Dhabi TV 44%

Top 10 most trusted television news channels nationally in Iraq, Nov. 09
Al Sharqia 33%
Al Iraqiya 21%
Al Hurra 20%
Al Arabia 19%
Al Baghdadia 19%
Kurdistan TV 14%
Al Sumaria 13%
Al Jazeera 11%
KurdSAT 11%
BBC Arabic 10%

Top 10 most trusted television news channels in northern Iraq, Nov. 09
Kurdistan TV 50%
KNN TV 41%
KurdSAT 37%
Khak TV 23%
Zagros TV 22%
Gali Kurdistan 19%
Al Jazeera 13%
Al Sharqia 11%
Al Arabia 8%
Al Baghdadia 5%

Top 10 most trusted television news channels in central Iraq, Nov. 09
Al Sharqia 42%
Al Baghdadia 21%
Al Arabia 20%
Al Hurra 16%
Al Iraqia 15%
Al Jazeera 15%
BBC Arabic 13%
Al Sumaria TV 12%
Babiliyah TV 12%
Salah Al-Din TV 11%

Top 10 most trusted television news channels in southern Iraq, Nov. 09
Al Iraqia 44%
Al Hura 38%
Al Sharqia 37%
Al Baghdadia 27%
Al Arabia 26%
Al Sumaria TV 23%
Al Forat 16%
BBC Arabic 11%
Al Fayhaa TV 6%
Al Jazeera 4%

The next major topic was radio. Nationally, Baghdad Radio, 63%, and Radio Nawa, 61%, were tops. REgionally, Radio Nawa, 99%, was the most popular in the north, Baghdad Radio, 78%, was number one in the center, and in the south, 89%. Just like television, few radio stations received favorable marks about their news coverage. Nationally for example, Radio Sawa was ranked the best, but at only 23% on how it covered major events. Unlike TV however, foreign stations like the BBC fared fairly well in their reporting, but was still at a very low percentage, 13%.

Top 10 radio stations nationally in Iraq, Nov. 09
Baghdad Radio 63%
Radio Nawa 61%
Radio Sawa 54%
BBC London Arabic 49%
Monte Carlo Doualiya 48%
Dijla Radio 42%
Radio Sumer FM 38%
Radio Iraq al-Hurr 37%
Al Iraqiya Radio 34%
Radio Al Huriya 32%

Top 10 radio stations northern Iraq, Nov. 09
Radio Nawa 99%
Kurdistan Voice Radio 96%
Gali Kurdistan Voice Radio 93%
Yekgirtu Radio 68%
Ashti Radio 62%
BBC London Arabic 44%
Khak Radio 42%
Voice of America 42%
Zagros Radio 41%
Radio Sawa 40%

Top 10 radio stations central Iraq, Nov. 09
Baghdad Radio 78%
Radio Sawa 67%
BBC London Arabic 61%
Radio Nawa 59%
Monte Carlo Doualiya 57%
Dijla Radio 54%
Radio Sumer FM 50%
Al Iraqiya Radio 43%
Radio Iraq al-Hurr 42%
Al Nas 38%

Top 10 radio stations southern Iraq, Nov. 09
Baghdad Radio 89%
Dijla Radio 58%
Monte Carlo Doualiya 54%
Radio al-Hurriya 51%
Radio Sawa 50%
Radio Sumer Fm 46%
Radio Iraq al Hurr 43%
Al Mirbad 38%
BBC London Arabic 37%

Which radio stations provided the best news coverage nationally, Nov. 09
Radio Sawa 23%
Radio Nawa 16%
BBC London 13%

Which radio stations provided the best news coverage northern Iraq, Nov. 09
Others 59%
Radio Nawa 19%
Radio Zagros 12%
Radio Sawa 8%

Which radio stations provided the best news coverage central Iraq, Nov. 09
Others 38%
Radio Sawa 18%
BBC London 13%
Radio Nawa 12%
Baghdad Radio 11%

Which radio stations provided the best news coverage southern Iraq, Nov. 09
Radio Sawa 41%
BBC London 22%
Radio Nawa 18%

By 2009, the Internet was increasingly challenging traditional media. Usage was up, and more importantly, 68% said that they preferred using the web rather than newspapers. Iraqis also used search engines like Yahoo, 88%, and Google, 67%, rather than going to individual news sites such as Al Jazeera, 34%, or Al Arabiya 33%. That showed that newspapers were a dying form of information in Iraq just as they are in the industrial world. It was another indicator that Iraqis had trust issues with their own domestic media as well, which was why they surfed the net over using domestic news sites.

Top 10 most trusted websites for news in Iraq, Nov. 09
Yahoo 88%
Google 67%
Al Jazeera 34%
Al Arabiya 33%
BBC Arabic 32%
Aswat al Iraq 24%
Maktoob 23%
PUK Media 21%
Iraq 4 All 20%
Elaph 20%

Newspapers were barely read anymore in the country by 2009. Only 3% said they read one each day. Weekly that went up to 25%, but more importantly, 59% of respondents said they never looked at a paper. Of those that still had a readership, Al Sabah was number one at 49%, followed by Azzaman, 42%, and Lvin Magazine from Kurdistan at 35%. Again, television, and even the Internet had far exceeded the use of newspapers in the country by 2009. Going on line was hopefully saving some of these papers as it opened a new avenue to maintain readership since so many were moving to the web.

How often did Iraqis read newspapers, Nov. 09
Daily or almost every day 3%
Several times/once a week 25%
Less than once a week 14%
Never 59%

Top 10 newspapers nationally, Nov. 09
Al Sabah 49%
Azzaman 42%
Lvin Magazine 35%
Hawlati 34%
Al Sabah 33%
Awene 32%
Others 30%
Al Dustour 27%
Al Hayat 19%
Al Shariq Al Awsat 19%

Overall, 75% of Iraqis included in the survey said it was important to be informed about the news. A basic necessity of a democratic society is a knowledgeable public. The fact that people were looking at a multitude of sources, and had a strong skepticism of almost all of them was important for the development of a civil society that can support elections and voting. It might also be a result of having once been under Saddam Hussein that Iraqis are so interested in the news. These are both positive findings. Unfortunately, other factors such as sectarianism and patronage also play a large role in shaping how all this news is digested. While not included in the survey, it was likely just as important for which stations or newspapers were viewed.


D3 Systems, “Iraq Media Study National Audience Analysis,” 4/21/10


Derek Gildea said...

I'm surprised. Al Jazeera is thought of as a big name in Arabic media here in the U.S., but it apparently was very little trusted by Iraqis. Why is that? Is the distrust of Qatar that strong?

Joel Wing said...

Think Al Jazeera is associated with emphasizing violence in Iraq and being pro-Allawi

Aliruba said...

Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya are known as media outlets which have sectarian tendencies, and were both kicked out of Iraq for the very reason a few years ago.