Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Transnational Broadcasting Studies




The most popular and controversial television programs in the Arab world are “reality” shows like Super Star and Star Academy, broadcast by satellite to viewers from Morocco to Iraq. These shows claim to be live, non-scripted and therefore "real". Many rely on audience participation in the form of voting for favorite contestants. In the wake of controversy triggered by Super Star and Star Academy, some observers have hailed reality television as a harbinger of democracy in the Arab world. This article explores the complex ways in which Arab reality television can be described as political and poses questions about the role of reality programs in the Pan-Arab public sphere. Based on fieldwork, textual analysis, and interviews with television producers and market researchers, this article concludes with preliminary observations on the political implications of Arab reality television.

Included in

Communication Commons



Date Posted: 01 May 2012

This document has been peer reviewed.