BBG Signs Agreement for New Middle East Radio Network Transmitter in Cyprus

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) signed an agreement Thursday with the Government of Cyprus for a new, medium wave (AM) transmitter that will give the Middle East Radio Network (MERN) broad reach in the region.

“The transmitter will be a major component of MERN,” Governor Norman J. Pattiz, chairman of the BBG’s Mideast Committee, said after the agreement was signed in Nicosia, Cyprus by Averof Neophytu, Minister of Communications and Works, and Donald K. Bandler, the U.S. Ambassador.

MERN, known as Radio Sawa (www.radiosawa.com) in the region, will reach Egypt and areas of the Levant once the 600 kilowatt transmitter is operational. The transmitter, located in southeastern Cyprus near Cape Greco, is expected to start carrying MERN in August 2002 on a frequency of 981 kilohertz.

“The transmitter will help millions of people across the Middle East enjoy our network,” said Governor Tom Korologos, who was involved in negotiations for the transmitter.

Medium wave transmitters in Kuwait (1540), and Rhodes, Greece (1260), already carry MERN, which went on the air March 23, 2002. An additional AM transmitter in Djibouti is expected to come on line within the next year.

MERN is also carried on FM transmitters in Amman, Jordan (98.1), Kuwait City, Kuwait (95.7) and Dubai (90.5) and Abu Dhabi (98.7), both in the United Arab Emirates, as well as on Nilesat, Arabsat and Eutelsat Hotbird and short wave. Streaming audio will be available on the Internet shortly. The U.S. Government has signed agreements for FM frequencies in Doha, Qatar and Manama, Bahrain, and is negotiating with other countries for frequencies.

MERN, a pilot project of the Voice of America, is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, Arabic-language service aimed at listeners under 30. Currently, the service broadcasts news, information, music and public service announcements. When it becomes fully operational later in 2002, MERN will add analysis, interviews, opinion pieces, sports, weather and features on a variety of political and social issues.

For more information, contact Joan Mower at 202.260.0167, or email jmower@ibb.gov.

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