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BBC picks DDB to handle launch of Arabic-language news

DUBAI - The BBC has hired DDB to communicate the launch of its forthcoming Arabic-language TV news channel.

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BBC Arabic Television is due to start broadcasting at the end of autumn and DDB has been tasked with promoting the channel across several Arabic speaking countries.

The account will be handled out of DDB's offices in Dubai, with an integrated marketing campaign rolling out across the Gulf, Levant and North Africa.

Talking about the account win, Najam Khwaja, chairman of Promoaction DDB, said: "It is fantastic to have been chosen to work with the BBC in bringing this important addition to the regional media to the widest possible audience. This is a highly competitive market and we aim to help the BBC make an immediate impact and stand out, with a contemporary style, tone and look."

It is expected that BBC Arabic Television, which will feature multimedia discussion programmes as well as international and regional news, will initially broadcast for 12 hours a day from studios in London. However, it will face stiff competition from established players such as Qatar-based Al Jazeera and Dubai-based Al Arabiya, and will have its work cut out convincing viewers that it is not a mouthpiece of the British government.

The channel, which is being run by the BBC World Service, caused mild controversy when it was first announced in October 2005, because of the loss of 10 foreign language services and 218 jobs in order to finance the project.

DDB's presence in the Middle East is a complex one, although Dubai-based TD&A DDB and Saudi Arabia-based Promoaction DDB recently announced they would be merging in order to bring clarity to the agency's offering in the region. DDB's contract with the BBC also includes support for the broadcaster's existing radio and online offering in Arabic.

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