BBC bows Farsi web

Gov't funds news service aimed at Iran

LONDON — +The U.K. government has given the BBC the greenlight to launch a TV news channel in the Farsi language, targeted at satellite and cable viewers in Iran.

The service, run by the BBC’s World Service arm from London, will be broadcasting early in 2008.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who announced the move Tuesday during a major speech on terrorism, confirmed the government would provide £15 million ($28 million) a year to fund the operation.

It will broadcast eight hours a day, complementing the BBC’s existing Persian radio and online services.

“In Iran, we are regarded as the most trusted and objective of all international broadcasters for the way we provide impartial news and information about the wider world and the crucial part Iran is playing on the regional and global stage,” said BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman.

“But television is increasingly dominating the way that millions of Iranian people receive their news,” he added. “I am delighted the BBC Farsi television service proposal has been given the go-ahead.”

As well as broadcasting news and analysis, the channel will showcase factual, educational and cultural documentaries and investigative current affairs programs.

Plans already are under way for the BBC to launch an Arabic TV service in fall 2007.

The BBC’s two most popular local-language news Web sites are the Arabic and Farsi services. The Farsi site attracts 19 million page impressions a month and an estimated 2 million Iranians listen to the BBC’s Farsi radio service each week.

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