A major news agency has withdrawn an “inaccurate” story on TV-viewing figures in which it was claimed that Al Jazeera is the most popular news station in the Middle East.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) retracted the report, first published on May 22, which put Al Jazeera far ahead of its rivals in terms of viewing numbers.
The original story claimed that Al Jazeera's daily viewership was 34 percent higher than all the other pan-Arab channels combined, based on joint research across 21 Middle East and North African countries apparently carried out by Ipsos and Sigma.
But AFP admitted this week that no such survey had been conducted, and issued a ‘kill’ notice to alert media outlets that the story was inaccurate.
A representative at Ipsos confirmed it had no affiliation with Sigma, and that no joint study had been undertaken.
A source at AFP, who wished to remain anonymous, acknowledged that the report was “inaccurate” in its citation of the research. “It was not a combined study”, the AFP source said.
Despite the retraction, several media outlets have not yet removed the story from their websites, despite the acknowledgement that it is inaccurate.
Al Jazeera first published the story as a press release. Sources at the network insist that the report is accurate and the Qatar-based network has not yet removed the article from its website. — SG