BBG Signs Agreements for New Broadcast Service to Middle East

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has signed agreements in Bahrain and Qatar for FM radio transmission of the Middle East Radio Network (MERN), paving the way for broad distribution of the new service, Governor Norman J. Pattiz said Monday.

Pattiz, who led a BBG delegation to the Middle East, also said the group received commitments for additional FM frequencies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates.

“These agreements – along with others reached earlier in the region — will ensure listeners in the Middle East will have a chance to hear our programs on the most popular medium around – FM radio,” Pattiz said from Los Angeles. “We’re committed to making sure people can hear America’s voice and better understand our country and what it stands for,” he added.

Other FM stations committed to carrying MERN are in Amman, Jordan and Kuwait.

MERN, a pilot project of the Voice of America, is a new 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, Arabic-language service aimed at listeners under 30. This service, which is set to start soon, will be phased in over a number of months. It will broadcast news, analysis, interviews, opinion pieces, sports, weather, music and features on a variety of political and social issues.

The network, distributed on AM, FM, digital audio satellite and Internet, will operate from Washington and the Middle East broadcast center in Dubai, where the BBG delegation visited last week.

The BBG delegation that accompanied Pattiz to the Middle East included MERN Project Manager Gary Thatcher, News Director Mouafac Harb and the VOA’s Sheila Gandji.

Joan Mower

Phone: 202.260.0167