Egyptian billionaire and majority owner of Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) Naguib Sawiris plans to set up a private television channel in Iraq that will compete with the US-funded Al-Hurra channel.
Sawiris will set up the new channel, called Hawa, in cooperation with news provider Video CairoSat. The new station is expected to begin broadcasting by early June, reported company officials.
OTH heads the consortium that was selected to operate the commercial GSM network in the Central region of Iraq including Baghdad. The Egyptian-based firm will contribute 70 percent of the $25 million start up costs for the station. Video CairoSat will fund the remaining 30 percent.
Hawa will carry content driven by news and entertainment. The channel will provide terrestrial and satellite transmission in order to reach viewers without satellite dishes, said OTH board member, Hassan Abdo to AP.
The channel will operate terrestrially for the first six months before being transmitted via satellite to gain a wider Middle Eastern audience.
According to the owner of Video CairoSat Mohamed Gohar, the Egyptian consortium spent four months convincing Iraq's US-led occupying Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to grant them a license.
In a bid to offset the spread of anti-American messages by
pan-Arab media outlets, the US government launched in February Al-Hurra, a satellite television station broadcasting Arabic language news and information programming across the Middle East and North Africa. Al-Hurra will be broadcast over the Arabsat and Nilesat satellites. It will also be available in the future over terrestrial transmission systems in Iraq. — (menareport.com)
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