BEIJING, Oct. 26-- The BBC World Service announced Tuesday it would close 10 foreign language radio services, mostly to eastern Europe, and open an Arabic-language television news and information service in the Middle East.
BBC Arabic Television Service- is to broadcast 12 hours a day across the Middle East, beginning in 2007, and will be free to anyone with a satellite or cable connection.
The move will make the BBC the only"tri-media international news provider offering Arabic news and current affairs on television, radio and online," the company said in a news release.
Broadcasts in Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Kazakh, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Thai will stop by the end of March 2006.
Hosam el-Sokkari, head of the BBC's Arabic Service, said there was no political motivation behind the new Arab channel. It will be"there to inform, educate and entertain, not to take part in the political process," he told reporters.
The new Arabic TV channel was formed at the request of the British Foreign Office, which funds the World Service through a direct grant worth 239 million pounds in 2005-2006.
BBC said the sweeping changes would result in the loss of 236 existing jobs, although some 200 jobs would be created.
The new service comes at a time when al-Jazeera, the 24-hour Arabic news channel, is expanding rapidly and gearing up to launch an English language service in the west next March. Enditem