Whether they know it or not, it seems that BBC audiences are currently undergoing a crash course on the subject of Middle East reality TV.

Hot on the heels of her very extensive coverage of the ‘Arab Idol’ talent show, the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell now brings audiences news about The President.

No – this is not an in-depth profile of Mahmoud Abbas, but a filmed report broadcast on BBC television news (and also featured on the Middle East page of the BBC News website) about a Palestinian reality show of that name.

Reality show Knell

Knell’s report features sound-bites such as:

“There are stalled peace talks with Israel and there’s still not an internationally recognised Palestinian state.”

The contest’s winner is showcased saying:

“I want to send a message to all the world. The people of Palestine need to live in the Palestinian state independence [sic] like the other countries and stop the occupation in this land.”

And whilst Knell mentions that “in twenty years, Palestinians have only ever had two presidential polls”, she does not bother to inform her audiences why that is the case.  

Such trite subject matter, especially when used as a vehicle for the promotion of dumbed-down context-free slogans, cannot be said to contribute to the meeting the BBC’s self-defined public purpose of enhancing ‘global outlook’.