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Bridges TV
Launched November 2004
Country  United States
Language American English
Headquarters Buffalo, New York
Website Bridges TV
Availability
Cable
Verizon FiOS 278

Bridges TV is a Muslim television network headquartered in Buffalo, New York. Premiering nationally in November 2004, it was the first American Muslim television network to broadcast in the English language.[1][2][3] Designed to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims, the network has received attention from publications and media venues such as Variety, NBC News, the Voice of America, Columbus Dispatch, Detroit Free Press, San Jose Mercury News, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and Canadian Press.[4]

World heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, a subscriber and spokesperson for the network, said "Bridges TV gives American Muslims a voice of their own on the airwaves for Americans of all races and religions to hear."[2] Network official expressed the opinion that a channel like Bridges TV was long overdue and market research sponsored by the network revealed American Muslims' willingness to pay as much as $10 per month above and beyond their current cable television or satellite television fee for the channel.[1]

Contents

Content

By focusing its content on the experiences of the estimated eight million Muslims living in North America, Bridges TV differentiates itself from such foreign language programming as Geo TV (which broadcasts in Urdu), Prime TV (which broadcasts in Urdu) and Arab Radio and Television Network (which broadcasts in Arabic). Around the time of its inception, the network announced that it would seek to feature sitcoms that represent American Muslim family life in a positive way and identified The Cosby Show as a model for such programming.[1]

In late 2005, Bridges TV started airing "Current Issues", a show produced in Lafayette, Louisiana about Palestinian and other Middle Eastern concerns. The Palestinian American host, Hesham Tillawi, is known both for vocalizing criticism against Israel's treatment of Arabs and Muslims.[5] While some have praised Tillawi for defending Jewish people in the face of antisemitism[5], the Anti-Defamation League said his show was "a megaphone for Holocaust deniers and white supremacists seeking to broadcast their hatred and anti-Semitism into American homes."[6] Though popular on Bridges TV, "Current Issues" was dropped in May 2006. According to Aasiya Zubair, the then Director of Programming at Bridges TV, the show was dropped because of "Jewish cable operators" around the United States who had complained to the network about the show. Additionally, editors at Bridges TV were reportedly fired for not editing certain material "offensive to Jews" out of the program before it aired.[5]

Another program shown on Bridges TV, "American Pilgrimage", featured Rabbi Brad Hirschfield visiting homes and mosques of leading imams and Muslim religious thinkers across North American in cities including Halifax, Detroit, San Francisco, New York City and Washington, DC. The series has been described as "groundbreaking" and has been characterized as having a "Charlie Rose meets Charles Kuralt" format.[7]

Leadership

Omar Amanat, the network's primary investor, is an American businessman and entrepreneur born in Queens, New York to Muslim parents who had emigrated from India.[8][9] According to Amanat:

I realized that the only way to undo misconceptions was to create our own media forum from which our stories and culture would be shared with the world. Other cultural groups have gained acceptance and increased understanding through the forum of media. Why can't Muslims do the same?[1]

Muzzammil S. Hassan., the CEO of Bridges TV, expressed belief that moderate Muslims cannot identify with the extreme stereotypes often depicted in Hollywood productions and said "They think they are not accurately portrayed...Bridges TV gives American Muslims a voice and will depict them in everyday, real life situations."[1] Hassan also said he hoped the Bridges TV network would balance negative portrayals of Muslims following the attacks on September 11, 2001.[3]

Controversy

In February 2009, Hassan was arrested and charged with beheading his estranged wife Aasiya Zubair who also worked for Bridges TV.[3][4][10][11] Her body was found at the TV station.[4][12] Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York and a friend of the couple, said that Hassan "was worried about the station's future...He was stressed" and added "Domestic violence is despicable, and Islam condones it in no way whatever."[4][10] Shortly after the arrest of Muzzammil Hassan, Bridges TV posted the following notice on their website:

Bridges TV is deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of Aasiya [Zubair] Hassan and subsequent arrest of Muzzammil Hassan. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to the families of the victim. We request that their right to privacy be respected.[13]

References

External links

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