The current paper is concerned with the topic of the media in the Kingdom of Bahrain. More specifically, the roles that the media play in delivering various types of media content, advertisement, and information are investigated. Four main categories of media are covered: television, radio, print newspapers and magazines, and the Internet. The audiences that these media are aimed at are also considered. The paper is based on a review of a variety of sources, mainly of those located on Internet websites, because the data about Bahraini media is mostly to be found on the Web. It was found that Bahraini television channels often broadcast such contents as news, cultural programs, shows, and, in certain cases, advertisement, possibly mainly to middle-class viewers.
It was also uncovered that the radio channels in Bahrain offer news, entertainment, and music, as well as advertisement, to numerous Bahraini individuals. Next, it was revealed that newspapers provide their readers with different current information, whereas magazines usually supply their specific users with targeted content. Finally, it was found that Bahraini websites propose various political, social, cultural, sport, and religious materials; approximately 93.5% of Bahraini inhabitants use the Internet, which makes it a perfect platform for advertising campaigns. Knowing this may allow organisations to more effectively place their advertisements in the media to better reach their target audiences with offers of products or services.
The media are important institutions in numerous aspects of the life of a country. They deliver different information to their audiences; additionally, organisations may use the media for advertising their products. The current paper investigates numerous aspects related to the functioning of various media in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Four types of media are considered: television, the radio, newspapers and magazines, and, finally, the Internet; their coverage and role in providing their audiences with media content, information, and advertisement is investigated. It is found out that television channels deliver such content as news, advertisement programs, as well as cultural, religious, and political information to its viewers, and sometimes broadcast advertisements; nearly half of Bahraini households were covered according to a 2012 source.
It is possible to assume that TV consumers in Bahrain mostly include representatives of the middle class. Next, radio channels often propose news, entertainment programs, and music for their listeners; ads are also allowed. A wide range of audiences is covered by radio channels; at least half of the country’s residents were previously reported to be customers of the radio. Furthermore, many Bahraini newspapers provide their readers with the news; however, there are specific newspapers and magazines which are aimed at particular audiences and deliver a broad range of targeted information to them (e.g., information about fashion for women). Finally, Bahraini websites offer a wide array of political, cultural, sport, and religious information to their visitors; Bahraini users, are also able to utilise social networks for communication. It is important that nearly 93.5% of the population of Bahrain have access to the Internet, making it a critical platform for companies to advertise their services and products.
The media play an important role in a country’s life. They provide its inhabitants with information and data about the current political, economic, financial, and cultural situation, supplying the basis for its people’s freedom. It is no wonder, therefore, that His Majesty Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa guaranteed the freedom and the preservation of rights for “all journalists and media personnel in the Kingdom of Bahrain (Bahrain News Agency, 2011, para. 6).
In addition, the media serve as a source of information about a variety of products available for citizen via using advertisement (Sissors & Baron, 2010). To effectively use the media for the purpose of advertising, it is crucial to understand the audience of each medium, as well as its role in delivering various types of content. This paper investigates four types of media (television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet) in Bahrain, their coverage, and their role in providing their audiences with content, information, and advertising.
Role and Coverage of Bahrain Media in Delivering Media Content, Information and Advertisement
According to the Ministry of Information Affairs ([MIA], 2014), the television in Bahrain includes the following channels: (1) the Main Channel (Bahrain TV), (2) the English Channel, (3) Holy Quran, (4) Bahrain International, and (5) two Sports Channels. The television is run by the government-controlled Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2016). However, it is stressed that the new law about media and communications permits private organisations to create both TV and radio channels, and it is expected that this will allow the sector to produce added value (MIA, 2014).
The content of these media differs from channel to channel. The Bahrain International Channel is a general channel which broadcasts 24/7 and provides a variety of programs that are suitable for watching by a variety of members of the family; the offered repertoire of programs is comprised of cartoons, motion pictures (including series), documentary films and shows; the channel also proposes its viewers cultural, political, and religious programs and more. News about Bahrain and the surrounding countries is also translated (SatTV, n.d.). Similarly, Bahrain TV offers a variety of programs for a wide array of audiences; the list includes news, films, various shows, and so on (Bahrain News Agency [BNA], 2012a). The English Channel offers information about the country in English. Therefore, the information proposed by these channels consists of news, political, cultural and religious materials to a considerable extent. The English Channel and Bahrain TV also show advertisements to their audiences, providing information about a variety of product and services available in the country (“Bahrain: Basic Data,” n.d.).
Clearly, the contents of the sports channels consist mainly of programs about the sport, as well as of translation of different matches. Thus, the channels supply their viewers with information about sports (BNA, 2012a).
It is stated that nearly 51% of Bahraini households utilise paid TV (“Arab Media Outlook,” 2012). Consequently, the audience of all the channels comprises the inhabitants of Bahrain of all ages who have access to television; it might be hypothesised that these mainly include citizens of the middle social class (as well as some representatives of the upper class, but these are less numerous), probably mostly those who live in urban areas. Thus, the information and programs shown on these channels are probably aimed primarily at middle-class audiences. The channels might play the role of integrators of these audiences into the cultural, religious and political life of Bahrain (Gunter & Dickinson, 2013), also providing them with information about the rest of the world, and supplying a certain amount of entertainment.
According to MIA (2014), the list of radio stations in Bahrain is comprised of 10 items. These radio channels and the contents that they broadcast are as follows: (1) General broadcast station – Radio Bahrain (general information, news, various cultural and religious programs), (2) Holy Quran (religious content), (3) Bahrain FM (music, shows, cultural programs, entertainment), (4) Al Shababiya (youth radio), (5) Tarabiya (translates classic music created by Arabs), (6) Shaabiya (mostly folk music composed by the Bahraini), (7) Bahrain Radio (broadcasts music of various types), (8) Indian station (contents for the Indian community of Bahrain), (9) English Station (a wide array of contents in English), (10) Huna Al Khaleej Al Arabi (“Bahrain: Basic Data,” n.d.; Bahrain News Agency [BNA], 2012c; MIA, 2014). The radio stations of the Kingdom of Bahrain are also run by the state, via the Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (CIA, 2016). It is noteworthy that some radio stations broadcast both in Arabic and English languages (“Bahrain: Basic Data,” n.d.). It also should be stressed that advertisement is sometimes broadcast on the radio channels of Bahrain (BNA, 2012c).
Each of the radio stations provides its own contents; consequently, the information that it broadcasts also differs from that of the others. For instance, Radio Bahrain allows its listeners to gain information and news about the general state of affairs in the country, providing materials about the most important events in the kingdom; it also lets the audience to take part in the cultural, political, and religious life of the country, as well as informs them of sports news (BNA, 2012c). Such station as Radio Quran (or Holy Quran) supplies its listeners with information about the religious life of Muslims, helping them to fulfil their religious needs; Al Shababiya translates materials primarily interesting to the young individuals living in Bahrain.
Therefore, the role that the radio stations play in Bahrain is that of providers of information, entertainment, and, importantly, of educators and popularisers of Bahraini and Islamic cultures. Because the radio stations also broadcast advertisement, they provide consumers with information pertaining to the products and services which one might purchase. It is stated that radio broadcasts cover more than half the population of the country (“Bahrain: Basic Data,” n.d.); the fact that the radio only translates audio contents permits even those with limited literacy skills to become consumers of its contents.
Newspapers and Magazines
It is stated that there exist 7 daily newspapers in the Kingdom of Bahrain; 5 of these are published in Arabic, whereas the other 2 are in English (MIA, 2014). Simultaneously, it is reported that nearly 15 weekly magazines and newspapers are to be found in Bahrain nowadays, also in Arabic and English; apart from these, the Information Affairs Authority produces the Official Gazette, one that publishes legal innovations, decisions of the government, and sentences made by the court (MIA, 2014). Also, 38 monthly magazines were to be found in Bahrain in 2014 (MIA, 2014).
The daily newspapers often publish news. Akhbar Al Khaleej, e.g., is one of the most popular daily newspapers; its contents are in Arabic and mostly include a wide array of news. Al Ayam is another widely-read daily newspaper in Arabic, which offers such materials as news, sports, and so on. This newspaper is a liberal one, expressing support for extended individual freedoms, as well as offering criticism of religious extremism, which is deemed controversial (Publicitas International, n.d.). Therefore, these newspapers provide its readers with information of different kinds, such as news, materials about political, economic, and cultural affairs, and so on; even strongly oppositional opinions can be found. Some of the newspapers publish advertisements for various products. The audience of the newspapers is probably comprised mostly of representatives of the middle class who are interested in the current information and news.
As for weekly and monthly newspapers, they are also diverse. For instance, the weekly paper Gulf Economic Monitor offers its readers current financial and economic news. Monthly magazines are often targeted at specific audiences; for instance, Woman This Month provides relevant information for women, including that about fashion and cosmetics (“Woman This Month,” n.d.), whereas Bahrain Investment Gazette supplies information on economic and financial affairs (MIA, 2014). These newspapers play informational and/or entertainment roles, providing the target audiences with contents they desire; clearly, they also include advertisement aimed at these audiences (for instance, cosmetics for women).
The Bahraini have very high rates of access to the Internet; according to CIA (2016), nearly 1,259,000 inhabitants of the country, or approximately 93.5% of its population, had access to the Internet in July 2015. It is stated that the Information Affairs Authority employs the techniques of Internet filtering (“Bahrain,” n.d.), which is done in order to prevent the users of the Web from viewing malicious content and is consistent with the state’s policy of freedom of responsible word (Bahrain News Agency [BNA], 2012b).
Bahrain hosts various websites, including a number of daily electronic newspapers and magazines such as Al Bilad, Al Watan, Al Ayam, and Daily Tribune Net (MIA, 2014). The contents of Bahraini websites include current, up-to-date information about a variety of aspects of life in the Kingdom. The news of all types, as well as political, cultural, sport, and religious information, can be found by the users. Additionally, the Bahraini users of the Internet have the ability to connect with one another, utilising an array of social networks. The audience of these media is very wide; as has already been stressed, nearly 93.5% of the population use the Internet (CIA, 2016). Clearly, specific websites provide information for their specific users (MIA, 2014). Therefore, the role that the Internet plays in the life of Bahraini people is considerable; it allows the inhabitants of the country to access the most recent and up-to-date information as offered by the Bahraini services. Simultaneously, the Bahraini websites permit the local organisations to advertise their services and products, thus generating profits for the owners of these websites, supporting businesses, and offering a variety of information pertaining to the available products and services for Bahraini Internet users.
Therefore, the media play a crucial role in the life of a country, supplying its people with all types of information about various aspects of the country’s life. Bahraini television and radio channels, newspapers, and Internet websites provide their audiences with a vast array of information and contents, satisfying their need for information and incorporating them into the country’s culture. Some of these media also demonstrate advertisements, providing their customers with information about available products and services. Companies can use these media for promoting their products and services; the specific audiences of each medium need to be taken into account if this advertising is to be efficacious.
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