The BBC’s Arabic radio service went off the air for the final time on Friday after 85 years of broadcasting.
The corporation announced the closure of BBC Arabic and Persian radio in September as part of a wider plan to cut costs to World Service channels and shift focus on digital content production.
At least 382 people will lose their jobs at the BBC World Service. The World Service had said it aims to save £28.5m by closing Arabic and Persian radio stations, part of a broader attempt to save £500m annually. The corporation will also stop producing radio output in 10 other languages, including Chinese and Hindi.
The broadcaster has said years of below-inflation license fee freezes imposed by the UK government, in addition to the increasing cost of producing programs, is to blame for the cuts.
BBC Arabic Radio was first launched in early 1938 from Egypt as the BBC Empire Service’s first foreign language radio broadcast. The final broadcast ended at 1 pm on Friday, with presenter Mahmoud Almossallami signing off.
“Before the hard moment comes where we say our goodbyes, a moment that is tough for all of us, let’s celebrate what BBC radio gave back to us and celebrate those who gave their all to this service, those who have gone and those who are with us, and wish them the best for the remainder of their journey,” Almossallami said.
As the final broadcast ended, many journalists and industry professionals shared their thoughts about the closure on social media.
“It’s far beyond sad and painful to see @BBCArabic radio shutting down today, after nearly 85 years on air! It’s incredibly difficult to describe how we feel!” Sally Nabil, a BBC Arabic Correspondent, tweeted.
Emir Nader, a BBC Correspondent, said: “Today is a tragic day for Arab media as BBC Arabic Radio has broadcast for the last time, after 85 years of service. One of many huge losses following cuts in BBC World Service’s budget.”
While Martin Patience, senior producer at NPR, simply tweeted: “End of an era @BBCArabic.”