The new satellite channel called Al Maghribya will initially broadcast a package of existing programmes from the country's two state channels, 2M and RTM.

   

The government has striven to improve the North African country's image.

    

"This channel is not directed at Moroccan residents abroad only, but at everybody," said Communication Minister and government spokesman Nabil bin Abd Allah on Thursday.

 

"We must convey the image of a modern Morocco, a country of tolerance and freedom and transmit the true image of moderate Islam we're developing here," he told a news conference.

   

"This channel is not directed at Moroccan residents abroad only, but at everybody"

Nabil bin Abd Allah,
communications minister, Morocco

Programmes on Al Maghribya channel - a mixture of television films, entertainment, current affairs and news - will at first cover 12 hours a day, from midday to 2400 GMT.


They will be broadcast to Europe and the Middle East before being extended, probably in 2006, to the US and Canada.

   

"The language will be 92% Arabic, initially," bin Abd Allah said, with the rest in French and in the Berber language Amazigh.

There are plans to broadcast in other languages, in particular in English, at a later stage.

   

More than 2.5 million Moroccans live abroad, mostly in France, Italy and Spain. Many second and third generation Moroccan expatriates speak little or no Arabic.