Social Media and BBC Arabic: A case study of ‘Nuqtat Hewar’

Abdel Sattar, Nesrine; Gillespie, Marie; Lami, Mina; Sayed, Nermeen and Wissam, Maryam (2012). Social Media and BBC Arabic: A case study of ‘Nuqtat Hewar’. The Open University, Milton Keynes.


Based on collaborative research, this report examines the adoption of social media by BBC Arabic (BBCA) in one of its flagship interactive daily political TV programmes Talking Point, or Nuqtat-Hewar. It assesses the opportunities and constraints of social media for widening online participation in political debate and opening up new possibilities for intercultural dialogue. The research used an innvoative collaborative methodology combining production ethnography, discourse analysis and social media monitoring data. The findings suggest that the gap between the rhetoric and reality of social media adoption by international boradcasters like the BBC World Service remains wide. It presents further evidence of the narrow demographic of participants involved in social media debate, and the narrow foci of debates. It analyses the inherent structural and professional journalistic constraints that inhibit more creative and participatory uses of social media and sets out a series of specific recommendations for promoting uses of social media that can enhance deliberative debate and digital democracy that are applicable to other news organisations. The report has fed into policy debates at BBC World Service and effected some signficant changes in how BBC Arabic uses social media.

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