Live from Virginia, It's Alhurra
In the suburbs of Washington, D.C., workers have nearly finished building what they hope will be a bridge to the Middle East. It's a studio for a new American-run television news channel, based in Springfield, Va., that will broadcast by satellite to all 22 countries of the Arab world.
Alhurra, which is Arabic for "The Free One," is designed to provide an antidote to what its founders consider anti-American news coverage on popular Arabic channels such as al-Jazeera. On a recent visit to the studio, NPR's Steve Inskeep found the predominantly Arab staff working to prepare the channel's first broadcast, set for launch on Feb. 14.
The new Arab language channel is a product of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a U.S. government board that also oversees the Voice of America broadcasts. The board has invested $62 million into Alhurra. Part of the channel's main mission is to encourage democracy in the Middle East -- and change an Arab public opinion that has turned sharply against the United States.
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