WorldSpace bids on $98 million deal to rebuild Iraqi Media Network

MUMBAI: WorldSpace which delivers digital audio radio services through satellite has announced that its government sales unit has submitted a proposal in partnership with nine other companies and institutions to rebuild Iraq's news media institutions.

The Iraqi Media Network operates the country's national television and FM radio networks and Al-Sabbah newspaper.



WorldSpace has stated that it is leading a team of companies with specialised experiences and a track record of success in rebuilding journalism communications in countries formerly under totalitarian regimes. With over 40 years of related expertise and $4.5 billion of combined DoD contracts the partnering companies include TFS Group; The Rendon Group; East-West News Service; Oracle Surveillance (security); and Harris Corporation, Broadcast Communication Division.

WorldSpace CEO Noah Samara was quoted in an official release saying, "WorldSpace has hand-picked the most qualified and experienced group of companies to bid on the Iraqi Media Network contract. They are companies that have demonstrated a track record of successfully serving the DoD and other internationally-focused government agencies. We are confident in our proposal, knowing that WorldSpace and its partners have the talent and technology to begin the staggering task of rebuilding a critical communications outlet for the Iraqi people."

Scheduled to begin from 1 January 2004, the $98 million, one-year Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) contract to reconstruct the Iraqi Media Network also has two six-month extension options. The main objective of the contract is to ensure the Iraqi network is brought up to professional standards in media.

This will include the refurbishment and repair of infrastructure, the provision of programming, the expansion of the national newspaper network and the training of a local workforce. The final component is to develop an exit strategy by privatising the media network and turning the control back to the Iraqi nation of over 24 million people the release adds.

In addition to fulfilling the requirements for a prime government contractor, WorldSpace also has satellite assets which currently broadcast information, news and entertainment to portable receivers in Iraq. With dozens of channels in 15 different languages, WorldSpace's radio service has been broadcasting into Iraq and the Middle East since 1999.

Further leveraging the advantages of satellite technology, WorldSpace has stated that it will be able to datacast content across Iraq to strengthen and build the news services, including Al-Sabbah, the country's largest daily newspaper. The paper has a circulation of 60,000 and only one working printing press. The second printing press was bombed during the US invasion.

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