Monday, April 02, 2018

Radio Sawa to Scale Back Regional Broadcast

In cost-saving move, BBG network plans to focus its OTA transmissions just on Iraq
James CarelessMar 28, 2018

To save $9.5 million in 2019, the U.S. government’s Arabic language broadcaster Radio Sawa plans to restrict its FM and AM transmissions to Iraq. This will mean the end of Radio Sawa’s radio service, AM and FM, to the rest of the Middle East.

In addition, Radio Sawa’s country-centric feeds for Egypt, the Gulf, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco and Sudan will be terminated, both on air and online at The remaining Radio Sawa Iraq feed will be streamed.

Cuts to Radio Sawa are part of a bigger reduction for the Broadcasting Board of Governors in proposed federal budgets for FY 2018 and 2019. Billing itself as “America’s civilian international media agency,” the BBG oversees the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa (under Middle East Broadcasting Networks — MBN), and Radio and TV Martí. The BBG budget was proposed at $661.1 million for FY 2019, down from $685.2 million in 2018 and $786.6 million in 2017.

A BBG information page says, “Radio Sawa attracts young audiences by playing contemporary Arabic and Western music with news and information programs. It is one of the most popular radio stations in the countries where it can be heard on FM.” So why is the BBG reducing Radio Sawa from a Middle Eastern regional broadcaster to an Iraq-only station?

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