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New Arab Language Satellite TV Network Begins Broadcasting Saturday - 2004-02-14

A new U.S.-funded Arabic-language satellite television network begins broadcasting to the Middle East, Saturday.

The network, named Alhurra, which means "the free one" in Arabic, is expected to reach viewers in 22 countries.

The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors says the service will carry news and information about international and regional developments, as well as features and discussion programs on current events and other topics of interest. BBG Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson says the broadcasts will be operating in a media market that, is "dominated by sensationalism and distortion."

Alhurra will begin operations with 14 hours of programming each day, then expand to 24 hours within weeks. It will broadcast from studios in Springfield, Virginia, outside Washington, and from bureaus in the Middle East and will be available to viewers on the region's two major satellite systems: Arabsat and Nilesat.