BBC Arabic Television

BBC Arabic Television
Launched 11 March 2008 (2008-03-11); 8 years ago
Network BBC World Service
Owned by BBC
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV)
Audience share Available in 10.7 million homes (March 2007, )
Country United Kingdom
Language Literary Arabic
Broadcast area Middle East
Headquarters Broadcasting House, London
Hot Bird 13B 11727 V / 27500 / 3/4
Hot Bird 13D 11117 V / 27500 / 3/4
Badr 4 11996 H / 27500 / 3/4
Intelsat 19 12646 H / 28066 / 3/4
Nilesat 102 12207 V / 27500 / 3/4
Anik F3 11911 L / 20000 / 3/4
beIN Channel 204
Rogers Cable (Canada) Channel 881
Bell Fibe TV (Canada) Channel 769
Streaming media
BBC Arabic Watch live

BBC Arabic Television is a television news channel broadcast to the Middle East by the BBC. It was launched at 0956 GMT & 1256 Moscow Standard Time on 11 March 2008. It is run by the BBC World Service and funded from the British television licence fee.


In 1994, BBC Arabic Television was launched by Rome-based Orbit Communications Company (owned by King Fahd's cousin, Prince Khalid ibn Abdullah) and a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Mawarid Holding. On 21 April 1996, it was "pulled off the air"[1] following an episode of Panorama that was critical of the Saudi Arabian government. Ian Richardson, who set up the news department during that time blamed the short life of the channel on a clash with the owners over content.

During the short life of BBC Arabic Television, there were several angry ‘liaison meetings’ with Orbit and the guarantees of editorial independence proved to be a sour joke, only barely obscured by a thin smokescreen about the BBC's alleged failure to observe "cultural sensitivities" – Saudi code for anything not to the Royal Family's liking. When it became clear to Orbit and Mawarid that it had, in their terms, created a monster not prepared to toe the Saudi line, it was only a matter of time before there would be a final parting of the ways.[2]

Many of the staff who worked for the original BBC Arabic Television service went on to work for Al Jazeera television,[3] now one of BBC Arabic Television's main competitors.

Plans to relaunch the channel were announced in October 2005 and broadcasting was to start in Autumn 2007, but was delayed until 0956 GMT on 11 March 2008.


Tony Khouri, Malak Jaafar


BBC Arabic Television is run by the BBC World Service. Initially it was funded from a grant-in-aid from the British Foreign Office but in 2014 funding was switched to come from the television licence that is mainly used to fund the BBC's domestic broadcasting. The service is based in the Peel Wing of Broadcasting House in London. 24-hour programming began 19 January 2009.

In 2011, as the British government cut funding to the BBC, forcing the BBC World Service to close down its services in five languages, the government simultaneously increased funding to the BBC Arabic service, in the words of Foreign Secretary William Hague, to "assist the BBC Arabic Service to continue their valuable work in the region".[4]


BBC Arabic can also be seen via The website includes a 16:9 live stream of the channel.

Newshour, an hour-long news bulletin is broadcast twice a day. In this programme, the top stories of the day are analysed and covered by BBC correspondents around the world. Other bulletins are half-an-hour long. The top stories are broadcast on the channel every fifteen minutes.


  1. Cochrane, Paul. "Saudi Arabia's Media Influence". Arab Media and Society. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  2. Ian Richardson, The Arabic TV "Monster", first published in The Independent and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, April 1997.
  3. The Failed Dream That Lead To Al Jazeera
  4. "BBC World Service receives government funding boost", BBC, June 22, 2011

External links

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