BBC World Service to cease broadcasting in Abu Dhabi

The British Broadcasting Corporation has announced it is ending its FM radio broadcasts in Abu Dhabi.

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ABU DHABI // The BBC World Service is ending its 90.3FM broadcasts in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, June 30.

The station “is moving quickly towards a mix of radio and digital platforms and in this rapidly developing environment regrettably FM is no longer a cost effective way of serving listeners in the UAE”, said a BBC spokesman.

“This has resulted in the difficult decision to end this broadcast.”

Listeners will still be able to access the station online, by satellite radio and short-wave radio, and by downloading the BBC Arabic app.

The station has broadcast on the Abu Dhabi frequency since 2003.

“We would like to thank our audience for listening via FM over the past 10 years and hope you will stay tuned, as BBC World Service can still be reached easily through a range of devices,” said the spokesperson.

The news comes after an announcement last month by the broadcaster that its news programmes, including World Service, reached their highest audience levels in history at 283 million weekly listeners.

BBC’s Arabic Service’s audience has also increased steadily, reaching 36.2 million adults weekly in 2014.

In another first, television viewership surpassed radio, led in part by recently introduced World Service television news bulletins, the broadcaster said.

In a blog post, Francesca Unsworth, director of the BBC World Service Group, said the number of radio listeners has increased from 2014 levels, and it’s “too soon to talk about the demise of radio”.

“Radio will continue to be an integral part of our service for decades to come,” she wrote. “Or perhaps I should say ‘audio’ instead because more and more people are indicating that they listen via podcasts or streaming online, a trend I’m sure will continue to grow.”

The BBC does not have a permanent news team in Abu Dhabi, but employs a commercial and business team that operates out of Dubai Media City, the spokesperson said.