United States To Fund 24-hr Hausa Satellite TV Station To Counter Boko Haram
SAN FRANCISCO, June 07, (THEWILL) â€' The United States Department of State is financing a new 24-hour satellite television station in Nigeria's troubled north where the Boko Haram, a radical Islamic terrorist group has orchestrated brutal and deadly attacks.
The new television channel known as Arewa24, will be broadcast in Hausa language, according to a report in the June 06, 2014 edition of the New York Times.
Funded solely by the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, the report said the project is expected to gulp about $6 million.
The paper quoted US government officials as saying the station is crucial to countering the extremism of radical groups like the Boko Haram which recently abducted over 200 teenage schoolgirls from their dormitory in Chibok, Borno State.
The move signals a ramping up of American counterinsurgency efforts to directly challenge the terrorist group, the report said.
State Department officials acknowledged that setting up an American-supported channel could prove challenging in a region where massacres, bombings and shootings by Boko Haram are common, and where the American government and Western educational programs are far from popular. The group has been known to attack media organizations in Nigeria.
According to the report, the project was started last year and is run in Nigeria by Equal Access International, a San Francisco-based government contractor that has managed media programs sponsored by the State Department in Yemen and Pakistan that encourage youth participation in politics, in addition to countering Islamist extremism. Work on the project is nearing completion, but broadcasts have not yet begun.
State Department officials insisted that the Nigerian government was aware of the television project, and that it had not planned to hide American support for the program, which has not been previously disclosed. 'However, U.S. sponsorship will not be advertised or promoted,' a State Department official said.
The goal of the channel is to provide original content, including comedies and children's programs that will be created, developed and produced by Nigerians. State Department officials said they hoped to provide an alternative to the violent propaganda and recruitment efforts of Boko Haram.
The Boko Haram has killed over 4000 people since it started its violent campaign against the Nigerian state in 2009.