Arabic Radio, the BBC's first foreign language service, is off the air after 85 years. To reduce costs, the BBC is ending radio services in 10 languages, including Persian, Chinese, and Hindi. At least 382 World Service employees will lose their jobs as the BBC concentrates on digital content, Deadline reports. BBC Arabic went on the air early in 1938 from Egypt and signed off at 1pm Friday. The last words went to Mahmoud Almossallami. "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," he said.
The BBC blames rising production costs and battles over funding with the British government for its need to cut $617 million per year from its spending budget, per the New York Times. Journalists lamented the loss. Millions of listeners in countries where many lack internet access depended on the broadcasts, said Hosam El Sokkari, a media consultant who once ran BBC Arabic. Poor people, especially, will be affected. "It's a place where you turn to during crises and conflicts to listen to news and information from a source that you would consider unbiased," he said. (Read more BBC stories.)