MBC2 goes on air with Bond season and English news

The Saudi-owned satellite broadcaster MBC has launched its English entertainment channel with a mix of movies, top series and English language news.

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By  David Cass Published  January 13, 2003

The Saudi-owned satellite broadcaster MBC has launched its English entertainment channel with a mix of movies, top series and English language news.

From studios based at Dubai Media City, the ambitious project is aimed at viewers who want English language programming, whether they be Arabs or other nationalities. The channel is free to air and can be found on Arabsat 2 and Arabsat 3 in the Middle East and Hotbird in Europe.

It will broadcast 24 hours a day from an uplink in Bahrain, though the news studios and transimission centre are in Dubai. The first nights viewing included the Bond movie "Goldeneye", the first in the channels "Bond Season".

The channel's owner, Sheikh Walid al Ibrahim, believes that news is also an important part of the programming mix and has recruited a team to produce a daily digest of international news, which will be different from other news on offer in that it will always try to bring the Middle East perspective to the top international stories of the day.

On the first night these included the conclusion of the OPEC meeting, at which quotas were raised to reflect the production crisis in Venezuela just half an hour before broadcast. "It was important to be able to carry that as our top story even though it broke so late," said presenter Stephen Marney.

The news service has also been given a remit to address the Middle East's large expatriate community by covering controversial issues such as taxation and working conditions which concern them directly.

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