AATV ARCHIVE

Arab American TV (AATV) was a Los Angeles-based news and media syndicate that produced a bilingual, magazine-style television program on a weekly basis. It covered local and national community events, showcasing Arab Los Angeles's rich social, cultural and political dimensions. Prominent Arab newsmakers, celebrities and political leaders appeared on AATV frequently.

Part of AATV's content included imported films, TV serials, plays, news and music videos from the region. In a sense, it served as a media bridge between the Arab diaspora in the US and the homeland. AATV operated from the early 1980s until the mid-2000s.

During its first decade, AATV was broadcast over-the-air throughout Southern California. The show captured the zeitgeist of southern California's Arab American communities. In the 1990s, it grew to reach a national footprint via the International Channel, which was available on many cable television carriers and satellite. It expanded its broadcast hours and put out daily entertainment programming. It was one of the only television programs connecting large parts of Arab America as a whole. In its final years, it became a live talk show that took callers and discussed issues concerning Arab Americans.

Professor William Youmans explained, "I acquired this collection and set up an in-house digitization lab to create an archive AATV." The collection includes ~4000 videos on obsolete tape formats, hundreds of audio cassettes and 20 boxes of documents. The tapes are programs, as well as raw footage of events, interviews, commercials and social life. It also includes a wealth of imported videos from the region, mainly films and television.

The AATV project began with the media archaeological work of recovering video footage kept on antiquated media. "I took a hands-on approach by obtaining, repairing and maintaining the video equipment and digitizing many videos myself. I am thinking about how unearthing, de-materializing and re-presenting old media relates to public memory-making today," Youmans added.

Wahid Boctor, an Egyptian immigrant, founded AATV. Other key personnel included Mona Ibrahim, who was the primary host and the face of the program. Mustafa el Deeb was a volunteer who handled the books and logistics, while conducting occasional interviews.

The AATV videos archive will be available on YouTube and other platforms.

In the video below, professor William Youmans explains the origins, process and goals of the AATV Archive. This video was directed and edited by Zakir Tabini.

Preservation of Arab American TV was made possible by funding from the George Washington University, including the Institute for Middle East Studies, The Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Media & Public Affairs, the University Facilitating Fund and the Humanities Center. Initial support was also given by the Dresher Center for the Humanities at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Also, special thanks to research assistants who have worked on AATV: Hiba Sohail, Bazgha Paracha, Tiedra Thompson, Katie Gallegher, Julian Milan, Avery Thomson, Ben Trapp and Azza Abbas.