Starting December 15, West European viewers can receive DW's Arabic-language TV program via Astra satellite. DW and satellite-operator SES arranged the project with the aim of reaching refugees from the Middle East.
Plans are made to expand the program in the coming months into a conduit of information and an aid to integration. Politicians are welcoming the initiative.
The Arabic-language TV program of the German foreign broadcaster will be transmitted in Europe via Astra 1M. DW (Arabia) offers round-the-clock news and information about Germany. Until now it was available in Germany exclusively via Internet livestream at dw.com/arabic.
Norbert Hölzle, Senior Vice President Commercial Europe of SES, pledged to DW Director General Peter Limbourg to transmit the channel at no cost for twelve months.
Limbourg: "Thanks to SES, we are in the position to make available a high-value TV-program for refugees and all interested parties from the Arab region. It is an important goal of ours to convey European values and to provide access to reliable information from a German perspective, initially in their native language. In that way, Deutsche Welle contributes to the refugees' participation in German society."
Hölzle outlined the motive behind the pro-bono project: "We are a market leader in Europe, and we see it as our duty to provide good, additional offerings. At the same time, we want to show how important social engagement is to us."
The charitable project is not the company's first, Hölzle said. For example, SES was engaged in Haiti and Nepal after devastating earthquakes there, as well as in the Philippines after the typhoon. In the midst of the Ebola crisis, SES used its satellite fleet to broadcast an educational channel throughout West Africa.
Hölzle: "With this project we want to contribute towards providing better information and integration for the refugees. Deutsche Welle is an ideal partner, because as an internationally-oriented media company it has a good reputation as a fair and neutral intermediary."
DW (Arabia) offers a diverse program with an emphasis on providing information, understanding, and cultural exchange.
Peter Altmaier, chief of staff of the German Chancellery in charge of coordinating the country's refugee policy, welcomed the initiative. "This mission of democracy, freedom of opinion and cultural exchange can provide a valuable contribution to the integration of Arab refugees fleeing from war," Altmaier said.
Minister of Culture Monika Grütters said: "The media, especially international broadcasters like Deutsche Welle, assume a special responsibility in times marked by war and terror. People from war-torn areas seeking safety, not only in Germany, are reliant on it for trustworthy and objective information about the situation in their homeland as well as that in their places of refuge. The continuing dialogue with the Arab world about values and ideologies as well as about the worth of respecting universal human rights is more important than ever."
Deutsche Welle acts as a symbol for democracy and freedom of opinion and against intolerance and terror, the culture minister said. "Shows like Shababtalk also contribute to that, in addressing topics that are critical of society and are often taboo in the Arab-speaking world. I thank SES for making this possible," Grütters added.
Germany's commissioner for migration, refugees and integration, Aydan Özoguz, said: "Information knows no boundaries. I therefore greatly appreciate that Deutsche Welle's Arabic TV program can now be received via satellite in West Europe. DW stands for democracy, freedom of opinion and cultural exchange - now it does in our country as well."
Step-by-step expansion planned
Initially, the full extent of the Arabic channel will be adopted as it is currently received in Arab countries. Adjustments are planned to match the needs of the target group in Germany - including, for instance, a German-language course crafted for television and bought-in features from German and European partners.
A satellite receiver is all that is necessary to receive the new channel. The service can therefore be easily accessed at refugee accommodation facilities.
A publically traded company, SES has its headquarters in Luxembourg. By its own account, it operates over 50 geostationary satellites worldwide. SES offers services for broadcasters, content and Internet providers, mobile and stationary network providers, business associations, and governmental organizations.