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BBC Arabic-language television channel to be launched 11 March

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Saudi-owned leading pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 7 February

[Report from London by Al-Sharq al-Awsat correspondent Faysal Abbas: "The BBC Arabic Television Channel will be Launched on the 11th of March. It will begin with a 12-Hour Transmission a Day."]

Al-Sharq al-Awsat learned yesterday that a new television channel belonging to the BBC Arabic service will be launched on 11 March 2008. Thus, it will join a series of news channels that were launched by non-Arab states in recent years. The US Al-Hurra Channel was launched in 2003 and it was followed by Russia Today and France-24.

Several other projects have been announced, most prominently, a plan to re-launch Euro News in Arabic this year.

The BBC plans to hold a special news conference on Monday, 3 March, to be attended by Director of BBC World Service Nigel Chapman, BBC's World News Director Richard Sambrook, Director of the Arabic Service Husam al-Sukkari, and Director of News in the BBC Arabic Service Salah Najm.

Speaking to Al-Sharq al-A! wsat, a spokeswoman for the BBC said the transmission will initially begin with 12 hours. She added that an air of enthusiasm prevails in the corporation amid preparations for the launch. With the launch of this channel, the BBC Arabic Service will include television, radio, and the Internet, she noted.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat learned that the BBC Arabic Channel will include Lina Musharbash, a former MBC broadcaster; Uthman Ayy Farah, former broadcaster in the Al-Arabiya Channel; and Tony Khuri, the Al-Arabiya Channel's correspondent in London who will read news again as he used to do in the Al-Hayat LBC when this channel broadcast news from London in 2003. The new channel will also include Hadil Wahdan, former correspondent of the Al-Arabiya Channel.

Earlier, the MBC Group publicly criticized the BBC in September last year because the latter "deliberately kidnapped" its workers, as the MBC put it.

As the Variety Magazine reported, the BBC responded by saying: "! All appointments in the upcoming Arabic channel were made in accordanc e with the BBC's fair and open policy of employment."

The BBC Arabic Channel project was first announced in 2005. The channel was scheduled to begin transmission in 2007. As the BBC set no fixed date, the launch was delayed to the beginning of 2008.

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 7 Feb 08



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