x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Sky News plans for Arabic channel still on despite phone hacking scandal

Plans for Sky News Arabia channel still on track despite News Corp phone-hacking scandal and failure of BSkyB takeover bid.

Sky News is pursuing plans to launch a 24-hour Arabic channel in Abu Dhabi, despite the growing phone-hacking scandal surrounding News Corporation.

Rupert Murdoch's media empire was last week forced to drop plans to buy the remaining stake in broadcaster BSkyB, which operates Sky News.

News Corp already owns a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, but chose to abandon its bid for full control of the company in the fallout of allegations that journalists at the News of the World newspaper illegally hacked into voicemail messages.

Sky News Arabia said its plans for launching a 24-hour news channel in Abu Dhabi are still progressing, and have not been hit by News Corp dropping its acquisition plans.

"Sky News Arabia is a 50/50 joint venture with BSkyB and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (Admic). Both organisations remain committed to the launch of Sky News Arabia in the Spring of 2012," the company said in a statement sent to The National.

Sky News Arabia will broadcast free-to-air to more than 50 million households across the Mena region, the channel said earlier this year. It will be based at the twofour54 media zone in Abu Dhabi, with bureaus around the world.

The global media industry has been rocked by allegations that News Corp journalists illegally hacked voicemail messages of September 11 victims, celebrities and political figures.

The News of the World, the UK's biggest-selling newspaper, was closed earlier this month, and senior executives Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton quit over the scandal.