BBC Considers Starting 24-Hour Arabic Television News Channel

June 25 (Bloomberg) — The British Broadcasting Corp. is considering starting a 24-hour television news channel broadcasting in Arabic.

The U.K. government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office asked the BBC to draw up a proposal for such a channel to be broadcast to Arab countries as well as to the U.K. and the rest of Europe, a BBC spokeswoman said.

No decision has been made on the new BBC channel, and discussions continue with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Treasury, the spokeswoman said. The BBC is funded by the U.K. government.

The channel would compete with satellite stations such as al- Jazeera, which was started in 1996 with $150 million from the emir of Qatar, and is owned by that nation’s government.

U.S. officials including Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have criticized al-Jazeera’s coverage of the war in Iraq as biased against the U.S.-led coalition that removed Saddam Hussein from power. The U.K. has about 8,900 soldiers in Iraq as part of the coalition.

Here’s more from the horse’s mouth. This is good news for Arab journalists out there. Time to update that resume!