BBC to establish media network

19 December 2003
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)has been awarded a£6.1 million ($10.7 million) grant from the UK's Department for International Development (DfiD) to establish a radio and television network in the south of the country.

The project involves developing local broadcasting infrastructure and skills and will provide services to the governorates of Basra, Dhi Qar, Maysan and Muthanna. The BBC plans to base the stations in Basra with outposts in Nasiriyah and Amara. Sources at the BBC say the focus of the stations will be on development rather than commercial broadcasting. Station content will include health and education programming as well as some entertainment content.

An initial six-month consultation phase will focus on establishing equipment and infrastructure needs. This will be followed by an 18-month phase to establish a sustainable local television and radio network. The BBC is talking to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) about a broadcasting licence.

The CPA says it intends to award by 31 December an estimated $100 million contract to operate the country's national television and radio networks and Al-Sabbah newspaper. International media companies submitted on 24 November bids for the one-year cost plus fee contract, which also has two six-month extension options (MEED 7:11:03).

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