Officials of the Arabic TV network that bought United Press International were opening talks with UPI management Monday after promising to keep the 85-year-old American news service free of political influence.
Steve Geimann, UPI vice president and executive editor, said he and other UPI executives planned to begin the session with representatives of Middle East Broadcasting Centre Ltd. by presenting "our ideas about UPI's future."`My understanding is that this is for them a learning trip to learn about UPI and what UPI does," Geimann said.
Middle East Broadcasting announced from its London headquarters Sunday that it had completed the purchase of UPI, which had faced bankruptcy. It said it will invest as much as $12 million in the struggling news agency over the next two years.
"Our goal is to continue UPI's tradition of providing objective, high-quality news on a worldwide basis," said Sheik Walid Al-Ibrahim, chairman of the network. "We plan to maintain the wire service as an independent entity, free from any political associations."
Middle East Broadcasting, the first all-Arabic TV network, paid $3.95 million in cash for UPI, outbidding a group of American businessmen at a bankruptcy court hearing last week in New York.
Geimann said the delegation from Middle East was led by Robert D. Kennedy, the network's deputy chief executive.
"I really don't expect any drastic changes, if changes at all, in the first several weeks, if not several months," Geimann said.
Al-Ibrahim said Middle East Broadcasting would expand UPI's operations and strengthen its activities in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
"We intend to elevate UPI's technology to state-of-the-art and reinforce its position as a competitive news-gathering organization," he said.
UPI, which has lost money for 30 years and owes creditors about $60 million, is in bankruptcy court reorganization for the second time in a decade.