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Sky News to launch Arabic channel

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Sky has agreed a deal with a private investment firm to launch a new channel offering "independent, impartial and innovative" news coverage in the Middle East.

Under a 50/50 joint venture agreement with HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan's Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp (ADMIC), a Sky News-branded Arabic-language channel will launch across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from 2012.

Based in Abu Dhabi, the 24-hour rolling news channel will provide comprehensive coverage of regional and international news stories. It will also have a "video-rich" website and mobile applications.

A team of more than 180 multimedia journalists will create content for the channel from the Abu Dhabi base, along with other news bureaus throughout the world.

Adrian Wells, previously Sky's head of international news, will work with ADMIC to launch the channel before a permanent director of news is appointed to lead the venture.

"The new channel will be an important, independent voice for the Arab world, providing accurate and in-depth reporting of all the interesting developments in the region," said ADMIC chairman Dr. Sultan Al Jaber.

"We intend to set a new standard for broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa by combining the best practice, expertise and reputation for impartiality of global news leader Sky News with our regional knowledge and the world-class infrastructure offered by Abu Dhabi."

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: "Sky News is already one of the world's leading news services and now we're looking forward to bringing a new voice to Arabic audiences.

"The Middle East and North Africa is undergoing rapid development and our partnership with ADMIC means we are able to enter this dynamic marketplace with the support and expertise of a strong local partner."

John Ryley, head of Sky News, added: "This venture is a significant step in the development of Sky News. We intend to bring viewers a distinctive approach to Arabic news, building on Sky News' strong reputation for independent, impartial and innovative coverage."

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