BBC to boost multi-media news in Middle East

MUMBAI: BBC Arabic head Hosam El Sokkari has promised a new multi-media era for Arab audiences to the BBC.

Speaking in Cairo at a reception to mark the 70th anniversary of BBC Arabic, El Sokkari looked forward to the BBC's new multi-media news and information services in Arabic which includes a television news and information channel launching in the New Year.

He says, "BBC Arabic may be 70-years-old but we are on the brink of a new, modern era for our audiences. BBC Arabic is no longer just a radio and online provider. We are now a fully integrated news and information service for the Arab world.

"We will reach audiences on radio, television, the internet via, mobiles and handheld computers ? in whatever way best suits the audience. We are already well known and trusted across the region for our 24-hour, seven days a week news and information programming.

"Now, with our multimedia offer, we will be at the forefront of creativity and innovation, presenting high quality news and information across a range of formats to Arabs across the Middle East. We are also well known for covering stories and issues which others have ignored and for reporting more than just conflict and politics.

"In future BBC Arabic will continue to broaden the news agenda for audiences in the region. It will reflect the breadth of the Arab interests and actively involve Arabs in dialogue on the issues that reflect their lives."

El Sokkari also used the occasion to formally announce the first of the BBC's new television presenters.

Hasan Muawad is returning to BBC Arabic, where he worked as a radio broadcaster for many years. He was most recently a presenter on the Al Arabiya TV channel.

El Sokkari adds, "I am delighted such an iconic presenter is returning to the BBC. He had a huge fan base when he worked for us in radio and is extremely popular with television audiences across the Arab world. I know from working with him in the past that he is going to be a great asset to our new multimedia offer."

Muawad, who attended the event, said: "Working at Al Arabiya TV has built on my many years of experience at the BBC. But coming back to the BBC is like returning home. I'm now looking forward to meeting the new audiences the BBC will reach with our multimedia offer."

The event also marked the 75th anniversary of BBC World Service. The international broadcaster launched on 19 December 1932 with an English language service for listeners across the 'Empire'.

BBC Arabic was to become its very first language service, launching on 3 January 1938, and remains the biggest of the BBC's 33 language services, after English.

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