RUNNIN’ A TV STATION AIN’T EASY

Hue has never started a business. The opposite is true of Marguerite Moore.

Moore, who teaches classes at FIT’s Enterprise Center and who blogs for Hot Topics Insider, wrote Love and War, The Human Side of Business: The Tale of The Arabic Channel about the cable station for Arabic speakers (channel 507 on Time Warner) that she and her husband Gamil launched in 1991, while she was working at Lehman Brothers. Since then, it’s been a trial by fire of buying content, selling advertising, and struggling to turn a profit in the wake of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks.

Moore has a built-in readership; she plans to teach the book to BE261: Starting a Small Business this spring. Hue sat down with Moore to ask her about the channel and the book.

Hue: What are The Arabic Channel’s most popular shows?
Moore:
We run a lot of soap operas and films, from Egypt, Syria, and Dubai. Movies about [medieval Egyptian sultan] Salah El-Din, Genghis Khan, and Anwar Sadat, have been very popular, as has a documentary on the October 6 War [also known as the Yom Kippur War], when Egypt conquered Israel. We used to produce our own news, getting the feed from the AP. Now we show Al Jazeera.

Marguerite Moore and her husband Gamil hold a quick confab inside The Arabic Channel HQ.

Hue: Running an Arabic channel must get politically dicey these days.
Moore:
We entertain all faiths and try to be apolitical. But it’s not easy. When we show the Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer of Mecca, our viewers like that, but one Christmas we put on the Orthodox Mass, and we got complaints.
Shortly after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the FBI visited us. They wanted to know if we had been contacted by anyone involved in the bombing. They tapped our phones. We didn’t realize that the FBI was aware that The Arabic Channel existed. And every time we picked up the phone, we had to be careful.

Hue: How did you come up with the title for your book?
Moore: I was having difficulty with that, so I had lunch with my friend Merry, who is a big reader. She said, “Love and War. The book is about a marriage, going back and forth between love and war, and the World Trade Center attacks are a kind of war. And you’re relating what happened to you, which is the human side of it.” Every time I was writing, I’d think about those elements.

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