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Sky News mulls Arabic channel

Murdoch company talks to Abu Dhabi investor

Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. news web Sky News is in discussions with an Abu Dhabi-based private investor about setting up a free-to-air Arabic-language satellite news channel to rival Al-Jazeera.

The channel, to be operated under the Sky News brand, would be a 50-50 joint venture offering multimedia news across the Middle East and North Africa with an “independent and neutral coverage of the news agenda,” according to Sky News. The channel would be based in Abu Dhabi with bureaus in most regional and international news hubs. If discussions are successful, the channel could bow within 24 months.

“This venture would build on our existing strengths as an international news provider and bring the Sky News brand to a new audience,” said Sky News head John Ryley. “Discussions are progressing well, and we look forward to bringing a new approach to Arabic-language news.”

Sky News is primarily aimed at British auds but is available to viewers in Europe, Australasia and the Middle East.The web has pioneered 24-hour rolling news in the U.K.

With its emphasis on breaking stories, Sky News is regarded by many media commentators as superior to the BBC’s own domestic news web BBC News, it main rival.

However, critics claim that Sky News’ determination to be first leads to more superficial coverage than the BBC’s.

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