BBC hires for Arabic news launch

The BBC has picked a Dubai-based agency to launch its first Arabic TV channel in the Middle East.

Asda'a Public Relations is charged with convincing Middle-Eastern viewers and opinion formers that the BBC can rival Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera in the region.

'We need an agency that can communicate directly with the region in its own language,' said BBC World Service head of international marketing communications Jane Futrell.

'The BBC has a great history, but work still needs to be done in certain countries. A local agency works better than a foreign agency operating abroad,' she added.

Asda'a initially pitched for a campaign to promote a BBC Arabic radio station, launching in five Middle-Eastern countries next year. But now the PR firm will work on both radio and TV.

The BBC's Arabic TV news channel will launch in 2007 as a direct rival to Al Jazeera.

In the summer, Al Jazeera appointed Brown Lloyd James to promote the English version of its news channel (PRWeek, 22 July).

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