London, Mar.4 : The BBC has unveiled a 25 million pound Arabic television news service that will be funded by the Government.
Designed to compete against al-Jazeera and other satellite channels, BBC Arabic Television is seen as a major intervention in the battle to win hearts and minds of those living in the Middle East.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office agreed to fund the first UK state-backed international television channel after the BBC said it was failing to reach a potential audience of 100 million viewers.
To be launched next Monday, the Arabic-language service will also operate as a BBC website and be available on mobile phones and hand-held computers.
Ultimately, the BBC hopes the service will be broadcast in the US and Europe.
Critics, however, were quoted by The Times as saying that the BBC has little chance of supplanting the established al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels and would have to avoid offending Arab Governments to survive.