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Russian news channel joins push into Mideast

Russia Today kicks off Arabic-lingo satcaster

LONDON — Russian TV is hopping on the Arab news bandwagon by announcing its own plans for an Arabic-language satcaster.

Execs at Russia’s English-language Russia Today, which launched Dec. 10, confirmed that work is well underway on prepping the as-yet unnamed Arab news web, to launch by the end of this year.

The service, to be based in Moscow, is entering an increasingly crowded market.

While the original Arab newscaster Al-Jazeera is readying its much-delayed English-language Al-Jazeera Intl., now slated for summer, a slew of foreign countries also want to beam into the Arab world.

Last year, the BBC announced its plans for an Arabic-language satcaster to start airing in 2007, while France’s 24-hour newscaster CFII is expected to begin broadcasting in Arabic this year.

Germany’s pubcaster Deutsche Welle already offers Arabic TV programming for a few hours a day.

“Al-Jazeera gives one point of view of the Arab world, but we want to give the Russian point of view of the region,” says Sophya Ranneva, press officer for Russia Today.

The Russian newscaster will be headed by Akram Khuzam, formerly Al-Jazeera’s Moscow Bureau chief. Khuzam is in Dubai recruiting journalists for the channel.