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BBC Arabic Television (Arabic: بي بي سي عربي) is a television news channel broadcast to the Arab World by the BBC. It was launched on 11 March 2008. It is run by the BBC World Service and funded from the British television licence fee.

BBC Arabic Television
بي بي سي عربي
Logo BBC Arabic.png
Launched11 March 2008; 11 years ago (2008-03-11)
NetworkBBC World Service
Owned byBBC
Picture format576i (16:9 SDTV)
Audience shareAvailable in 10.7 million homes (March 2007, )
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageLiterary Arabic
Broadcast areaMiddle East
HeadquartersBroadcasting House, London
Hot Bird 13B11727 V / 27500 / 3/4
Hot Bird 13D11117 V / 27500 / 3/4
Badr 411996 H / 27500 / 3/4
Intelsat 1912646 H / 28066 / 3/4
Nilesat 10212207 V / 27500 / 3/4
Anik F311911 L / 20000 / 3/4
beINChannel 204
Rogers Cable (Canada)Channel 881
Bell Fibe TV (Canada)Channel 769
Streaming media
BBC ArabicWatch live


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 2008. The channel eventually relaunched at 0956 GMT on 11 March 2008, with the first news bulletin airing at the top of the hour at 1000. Initially broadcasting for 12 hours a day, 24-hour programming began on 19 January 2009.


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.

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 four times a day. In this programme, the top stories of the day are analysed and covered by BBC correspondents around the world. Other generic "BBC News" bulletins are 15 or 30 minutes long. There are headlines every quarter hour and news summaries at half past the hour, much like the news "wheel" of its Britain-based English counterpart BBC News.


  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 linksEdit