Photo: CNN 

“From the crossroads of east and west, we’re live in Abu Dhabi,” CNN anchor John Defterios frequently says from the network’s studio in the UAE capital.

A long time CNN correspondent, Defterios, who has been hosting the program “Global Exchange” live everyday, also frequently drops the name of UAE founder, the late Sheikh Zayed, whose memorial mosque often appears in nearly every broadcast I have seen. Defterios frequently points the mosque out in the backdrop.

Photo: Dubai Chronicle

Like Dubai, the government of Abu Dhabi has been “facilitating” a media environment often by building lavish media city projects with fully equipped studios and services made available to international broadcasters at very competitive cost– and perhaps in some cases– at no cost at all.

The recently launched Sky News Arabia for example is half owned by the UAE royal family. Obviously there are some serious questions about objectivity and conflict of interest here, as raised in my magazine piece on Sky Arabia last year.

In fact, CNN’s Defterios is no stranger to the public relations business. He previously hosted a Malaysian business show that was cancelled by both CNBC and BBC when it was revealed that the program “World Business” was being produced by a company that doubled as a PR firm for Malaysian politicians and was peddling puff pieces as news.

Defterios himself doubled as journalist/show host and president of the firm, dubbed FBC Media. That stands for Fact-Based Media. …Right.

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