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BBC Arabic TV won’t compete with pan-Arab channels, says director

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 19 August

The director of the BBC Global News Division, Richard Sambrook, said that the plan to launch a news channel at the end of this year is not aimed to compete with Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera channels with regard to reach and audiences.

He indicated in an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat that "there are people who say that we are going to outdo them (Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera), but I am not claiming that. We are an international channel which is foreign to the region, and what I am seeking to achieve is [for it] to be one of the three channels people will watch to know what is going on, and that we offer a strong and useful service to people in the region."

Sambrook denied the presence of an Egyptian pre-dominance on BBC Arabic [Service] radio. He said: "There are strict measures to prevent the domination of any nationality." He considered that the BBC Arabic [Service] radio submits to the same professional criteria that apply to all the BBC channels with r! egard to content and quality of journalism.

On the other hand, Richard [Sambrook] explained that the Persian TV which the BBC intends to launch was supposed to be inaugurated in the first half of the coming year. He stressed that it is planned that this channel, which will broadcast eight hours a day in the first phase, will have "resources" on the ground in Iran to feed it with [programme] content.

He indicated that "so far" the Iranian government "is not opposed", without revealing the nature of these resources. In other words, he did not indicate whether this television channel will have a permanent journalistic team or [just] a group of collaborators.

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 19 Aug 07


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