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From 1934 to 1941, three British-governed radio stations were established in the Middle East: Egyptian State Broadcasting (ESB) in Cairo (1934), the Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS) in Jerusalem (1936), and the Near East Broadcasting Service (NEBS) in Jaffa (1941). These three stations were modeled on the BBC and run as colonial or imperial stations – but they were also considered national stations. As a result, they operated as hybrid entities with overlapping and sometimes conflicting mandates.

Through three case studies – a contentious hire at the ESB, the PBS’ “Jerusalem Direct News Service”, and the NEBS’ Islamic broadcasts –, this article charts the evolving relationship between Great Britain and its Arab-world radio stations. Examining these three stations in tandem tension between national and regional broadcasting mandates, as well as the challenge that managing each station raised for British officials in the UK and in-country. It moves away from a focus on the disembodied spheres of ideology and propaganda, and toward the messy administrative decisions that reflected British officials’ on-the-ground efforts to navigate the administrative control and programming decisions in the perplexing world of semi-independent radio broadcasting stations in the Middle East. It closes by noting that while UK-based British officials saw these three stations as operating under the aegis of British governance and on the model of the BBC, the ESB and the PBS, in particular, reflected and projected not a British imperial identity but an Egyptian and a Palestinian nationalist one.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Media History on Oct. 15, 2013, available online: