The BBC has given launch details for the new BBC Arabic Television service. Confirming the March 11 launch date, the publicly funded channel will begin with a 12 hour a day schedule, extending to 24 hours a day by the summer.
Painting a picture of multimedia delivery, the BBC is stressing the channel is already “available on air and on demand” 24 hours a day through radio, internet, mobile and handheld computers.Satellite distribution will be through Arabsat, Nilesat and Eutelsat, including the Hot Bird neighbourhood at 13 degrees East.
Although editorially independent BBC Arabic TV is being funded by a parliamentary grant-in-aid through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. £30 million is being put into the development of Arabic broadcasting in 2008 including £19m for the television channel. However, the launch of the service has lead to the reduction of services elsewhere, such as the closure of BBC World Service Radio’s European short wave service in English.13 million people listen to BBC Arabic radio each week, according to independent figures quoted by the BBC.