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Spotlight: New Arabic Language Channel Launched

By | February 23, 2004

      A new Arabic-language satellite television channel, named Alhurra, recently began broadcasting to millions of viewers in 22 countries across the Middle East.

      Alhurra, an Arabic word for “the free one,” primarily is devoted to news and information. The commercial-free channel broadcasts discussion programs; current-affairs magazines; and features on a variety of subjects, including health and personal fitness, entertainment, sports, fashion, and science and technology. Operated by The Middle East Television Network, a non-profit corporation funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Alhurra is broadcast from studios in Springfield, Va., and from bureaus throughout the Middle East. The BBG, an independent and autonomous federal agency, supervises all U.S. nonmilitary international broadcasting.

      The channel debuted with a 14-hours-per-day program schedule, and it will expand to 24 hours within weeks. It intends to present accurate, balanced and comprehensive news. Primetime programming on the channel includes two one-hour, in-depth newscasts; a nightly live talk show called “Free Hour;” and Arabic translations of documentary and information programming from producers throughout the world.

      “Our competitive edge in the Middle East is our very dedication to truth and free and open debate,” says BBG Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, “and we will stand out like a beacon of light in a media market dominated by sensationalism and distortion.”

      The channel is available from an ArabSat satellite at 26 degrees East and from a Nilesat spacecraft orbiting at 7 degrees West. Information about the satellite downlink frequencies and a daily programming schedule is available from the channel’s Web site at

      –Paul Dykewicz

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