RIYADH, (AFP)— Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal on Tuesday announced plans to launch a pan-Arab news channel in 2012, saying the television network will promote freedom of speech.
“The region is experiencing dramatic changes which will probably continue and cause significant developments” and Alarab “channel will follow up on these changes,” Alwaleed told a news conference in Riyadh.
A company statement said: “Alarab will focus editorially on the important shifts taking place across the Arab world with an emphasis on freedom of speech and freedom of press.”
The Arab world has been rocked a wave of protests that have toppled autocratic rulers in Tunisia and Egypt this year.
Alwaleed also announced an “agreement with Bloomberg LP in which Bloomberg will support the creation of five hours of financial and economic news programming throughout the day on the channel,” said the statement.
The channel, which will rely on a network of reporters from across Arab countries, will enter a field already dominated by tough competition between Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and the Saudi-controlled Al-Arabiya.
The statement said the channel might be based in Manama, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Beirut.
Alarab will be headed by Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist and editor closely linked to the Al-Faisal wing of the royal family.
In May 2010, Khashoggi was forced out from his position at the helm of the influential Saudi newspaper Al-Watan after the daily published an opinion column that outraged religious conservatives.