US news to be shown in Iraq as second station launches

NEW YORK - The US government is planning a second television channel for Iraq, showing subtitled versions of American nightly news bulletins from the US's major network broadcasters.

The new station, which will be funded by the US government, is just awaiting Congress's approval for $3m (£1.9m) in funds needed to run the service. That is expected to be given today.

Once up and running it will broadcast 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw; 'ABC Evening News' with Peter Jennings; 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather; and 'Fox News Special Report' with Britt Hume.

The programmes will be broadcast without any advertising, and the broadcasters are providing their programming without charge.

The aim of the channel is to bring what Americans see as unbiased news coverage to the Iraqi people.

Norman Pattiz, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors' Middle East committee, told The New York Times: "The only way now that they have to understand America is through their indigenous media and the view that they get is not what we think is the fair and accurate view."

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is also behind Radio Sawa, an Arab-language music and news outlet broadcast in the Middle East, targeting Arabic youth. The new television channel is likely to broadcast between five and six hours of nightly programming and two hours of news from Radio Sawa.

The new television channel is the second US broadcasting effort in Iraq to be announced in the space of a day. Yesterday, it was revealed that coalition forces were launching the Towards Freedom TV channel, which will broadcast for as much five hours a day and is part of the allied campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.

The station will be broadcast from a specially equipped American "Commando Solo" C-130 Hercules aircraft circling in the skies over Iraq. Its launch broadcast featured messages from George W Bush and Tony Blair. Blair used the opportunity to reassure Iraqis: "The money from Iraqi oil will be yours."

Reports say the military is also planning a newspaper for Iraqis.

The Iraqis already have access to services from the BBC, including its BBC Arabic service.

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