Television

BBC starts recruiting for upcoming Arabic television service

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MUMBAI: BBC World Service has started recruiting senior editorial staff for the BBC Arabic Television service to be launched next year.

Salah Negm has joined the channel as news editor. He says, "We'll be initially recruiting output editors - and one for newsgathering. We're aiming to be fast, modern in style and outlook; strong on analysis with a wide international perspective. It will maintain the BBC values of accuracy, editorial independence, impartiality, while balancing a wide diversity of views.

"BBC Arabic Television will have broad appeal - free from commercial, political and religious affiliations or pressures. We are now looking for the key senior staff to help us turn this vision into an exciting reality."

Applications for the current editor vacancies can be made through bbc.co.uk/jobs. Other journalist and technical roles are to be advertised later this year, and bbcarabic.com gives brief details.

Negm explains, "The new channel will not simply be another satellite news station. It's part of a wider vision to introduce a multi-media BBC Arabic Service - drawing on the great traditions and strengths of its radio and online operation to better serve audiences across the Arab world. We will be unique among international broadcasters in the Middle East, a region that witnessed a boom in satellite television news and media consumption in the last few years.

"BBC World Service Arabic Television will supply high quality rolling news and information. Dynamic, relevant and modern, it will introduce to the Arab television viewers all the values that made BBC Arabic radio an icon in the region over nearly 70 years. It will explain the wider context of events for audiences in a region that is witnessing an extreme polarisation in views and attitudes; bringing into conflict the old and new, tradition and modernity."

BBC Arabic already broadcasts 24-hours a day through FM and online. BBC Arabic Television will draw on the BBC's newsgathering network around the world and will expand its journalistic presence across the Arab world: latest technology will provide its reporters with greater mobility, speed and quality.

BBC World Service head of Africa and the Middle East Jerry Timmins says: "The measured weekly audience for BBC Arabic radio is over 12 million and bbcarabic.com is one of the region's most visited websites with monthly page impressions peaking earlier this year at 21 million and rising. With the television station to broaden our appeal further, BBC Arabic is very ambitious to increase its audiences across all media over the next five years."

BBC Arabic head Hosam El Sokkari said, "This offer across all media will be designed to cater for the different economic and social conditions across 21 countries. We have a unique opportunity with one service creating content across three media in the same place under a unified editorial leadership and with a shared technical backbone."

The BBC had announced plans to launch an Arabic Television operation last eyar as part of BBC World Service's multi-media strategy for the next three years. BBC World Service is looking to make the its transition from being seen as primarily a radio and online operation to a true multi-media producer, capable of responding to audience demands for information via whatever medium they choose.

Timmins adds, "The BBC Arabic Service is at the cutting edge of developments at BBC World Service. Our aim is to strengthen our appeal to our audiences using latest technology. With the Arabic Service's trusted reputation in the Middle East and our new found ability to provide news and information across any device the audience chooses, the BBC will be in a unique position in the Arab World. I believe we have a real advantage given that we will be creating a carefully co-ordinated and compelling multi-media news service."

BBC Arabic TV will initially broadcast for 12 hours a day - available free-of-charge to everyone in the Arab World with a satellite or cable connection. A service of BBC news and information in audio and text in Arabic is planned for the remaining 12 hours of the day on the channel. Repeated audience research in seven capital cities across the region indicates that between 80 and 90 per cent of those surveyed would be 'very likely' or 'fairly likely' to tune in.

Potential users cited the trusted nature of the BBC brand and its strong record in news coverage for their strong interest. The operating costs of £19 million a year for BBC Arabic TV will come from existing grant-in-aid funding from the UK government. The grant for 2006/2007 is £246 million.

The newly redeveloped Broadcasting House - the BBC's central London headquarters - will be the home of the BBC's Arabic Television service. The whole BBC Arabic service, including the new Arabic language television service, will occupy two floors of the new purpose-built East Wing from launch.

The service will create multi-media news and current affairs output across radio, television and online for Arabic speakers around the globe.

Timmins adds, "Broadcasting House is going to be the main centre for the BBC's national and international news operations when the redevelopment of the building is complete. I'm really pleased that the BBC's Arabic Service will be the first part of the BBC's global news division to move in. It will ensure the Arabic Service is close to the heart of the BBC's overall news operation.

"The BBC Arabic Service is at the cutting edge of developments at BBC World Service. Our aim is to to strengthen our appeal to our audiences using latest technology. With the Arabic Service's trusted reputation in the Middle East and our new found ability to provide news and information across any device the audience chooses, the BBC will be in a unique position in the Arab World. I believe we have a real advantage given that we will be creating a carefully co-ordinated and compelling multi-media news service."

The new base at Broadcasting House for the BBC's multi-media Arabic Service will process and edit news feeds from BBC bureaux and studios throughout the Middle East and worldwide - as well as handling material from news agencies and the public via mobile phones and email.

It will be staffed by around 200 journalists working together to process material for radio, television and online.

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