PARIS – A media competition for minds and market share in the Middle East is evolving as a crowd of Western news organizations prepares to deliver headlines – and geopolitical views – in the language of the Koran.
Backed by government financing, Germany’s public international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, is poised to beam as much as 24 hours of daily news programming in Arabic this autumn. France’s yet-to-be-named CNN-style channel is in development for a year-end opening, along with a Web site in Arabic and later in 2007 an Arabic television version. And the state-owned Russia Today has similar plans for an Arabic Web site and television presence.
From the United States, CNN is watching the development of its Arabic Web site, which attracts more than 300,000 unique visitors monthly, before it decides whether to pursue television plans.
“I’m losing track,” said Jerry Timmins, head of the BBC World Service’s operations in Africa and the Middle East. “There’s pretty much of an announcement a week.”