Orbit Satellite Television & Radio Network, the Rome-based company associated with the Al-Mawarid Group of Riyadh, is pressing ahead with plans for a multi-channel service aimed at viewers in North Africa and the Middle East.

The company has reached agreements for two channels of general entertainment programmes supplied from the US; a news channel; a sports channel; and a music channel.

It is understood that it plans to sign a deal to take a 24-hour-a-day Arabic language news and information service supplied by BBC World Service Television, an arm of the UK’s BBC. The BBC has contracted BBC World Service Radio to supply the programming.

The BBC-Orbit deal is the subject of a court case in the UK. A final hearing is due in April when the UK courts are to report on whether the BBC has the right to sign the deal with Orbit following an existing contract to supply a 24-hour-a-day service to Star TV of Hong Kong (MEED 12:11:93).