Dubai: The BBC has confirmed that it is no longer broadcasting BBC World Services content from Dubai amid reports yesterday that its world shortwave listenership has plunged dramatically in the last year.
"BBC World Service in English and BBC Arabic are no longer available on 87.9 FM in Dubai due to a cessation of our licence," a BBC spokesperson told Gulf News Wednesday.
The spokesperson didn't say why the station is no longer in pla. For now, 87.9 FM is playing classical music selections until the BBC's future on the local dial is determined. "However, audiences in the region can access BBC World Service and BBC Arabic on 90.3 FM in Abu Dhabi and also BBC World News and BBC Arabic television on Nilesat, Arabsat and Hotbird, as well as on eVision," the spokesperson said.
First implemented in Dubai in 2003, the content once available on 87.9 FM is still being made available online, the spokesperson said. "BBC World Service in English is available 24 hours a day online via the ‘Listen live' link at www.bbcworldservice.com"
BBC listeners can also access the website bbcarabic.com for updates around the clock as well as radio and television streaming. Until the services gap is worked out, the spokesperson said: "We are actively pursuing other ways of making our programming available across the region, including Dubai."
The news comes amid reports from the BBC of severely waning interest in traditional listening trends via older forms of radio frequencies.
In a statement yesterday, the BBC said that it "expanded its reach on new platforms last year in the face of a dramatic drop in global shortwave listening trends."
According to the BBC World Service Annual Review 2009-10, the BBC attracted nine million viewers through television, radio, online and mobile services but also lost "20 million shortwave radio listeners during the year, reflecting the increasing global decline in short wave listening."
BBC World Service Dir-ector Peter Horrocks said yesterday that "the strategic move into Arabic and Iranian tele-vision channels has been vindicated. The estimated BBC Arabic television audience was up 3.5 million, making it the largest BBC's language service with an audience of 22 million across all platforms while BBC Persian has an estimated 3.1 million viewers in Iran."