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Wed 1 Feb 2006 04:00 AM

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Jump TV offers Iraqi television service

Iraqis worldwide can now tune into Baghdad’s hottest TV hits, including a Mesopotamian version of the American Idol, Saddam Hussein’s trial and a talk show hosted by Iraq’s equivalent of Oprah Winfrey.

Iraqis worldwide can now tune into Baghdad’s hottest TV hits, including a Mesopotamian version of the American Idol, Saddam Hussein’s trial and a talk show hosted by Iraq’s equivalent of Oprah Winfrey. New York-based JumpTV, a leading provider of TV broadcasts over the internet, will begin offering the programmes of five independent Iraqi television stations for US $19.95 each month.

The Iraqi bouquet is the latest addition to an online distribution network that streams live, high-quality TV signals from about 100 channels in more than 40 countries over the JumpTV web site. 34-year-old Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, president of JumpTV, declined to specify how many subscribers have signed up since the service was launched in 2000. However, he says there are tens of thousands of customers from more than 70 countries. JumpTV’s Baghdad offerings are aimed at Iraqi expatriates — Tuzman cites population estimates ranging from 1.5 million to 6 million — living in relatively small diaspora communities around the world.

One channel is Alsumaria, which hosts Iraq Star — the local equivalent of American Idol. Other stations in the bundle are AldiyarSat, which covers Saddam Hussein’s trial, and Al Fayhaa, whose best-known talk show host, Inam Abdul Majeed, is considered to be the Oprah of Iraq. “Iraq is not all about insurgency and car bombings. There’s also lifestyle, and it’s important for Iraq and the world to see that side of the society,” adds Tuzman.

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