MBC confirms plans for an English channel early in 2003

The first of the major Middle East satellite broadcasters confirms that it also plans to be the first with a dedicated English language channel.

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By  David Cass Published  November 27, 2002

Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) has confirmed the news that it is to open an English TV channel based at Dubai Media City. The company is stressing that this will be the first privately run English news and entertainment channel in the region.

According to Mamdouh Abougabal, marketing director of the London-based MBC Ltd, “The new free-to-air channel will be formally launched in early 2003, possibly toward the end of January, with a rich fare of news, analysis on current affairs and latest Western movies.”

The new channel was announced in Jeddah, where Saudi journalists and media professionals were given an audiovisual presentation showcasing the menu that will be offered to viewers of MBC's second channel.

Although the production and studio facilities are in Dubai, the new channel will uplink its signal to the Arabsat C-band satellite round-the-clock from Bahrain. Abougabal also revealed details of the target audience. “We’re targeting 80 percent-plus young Arabs who want to see English programs on a private free-to-air channel. The English channels available in the Gulf are all government owned,”

MBC executives are currently recruiting for the new service, which will offer a daily half-hour program of news and an hour-long current affairs program. “These will be like those aired by leading world channels including BBC,” Abougabal said. “MBC will continue with its first channel that was launched for Arabic viewers 11 years ago. This still remains No. 1 preferred channel for the Arabs.

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