Orbit shifts to Bahrain; renews ESPN contract

Orbit Satellite and Radio Television Network is shifting its broadcasting base from Rome to Bahrain to bring the network closer to its viewers. The operator has also announced a five-year renewal agreement with ESPN International.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  October 14, 2003

Orbit Satellite and Radio Television Network is shifting its broadcasting base from Rome to Bahrain. The move will bring the network closer to its viewers and listeners, who are all in the Middle East and North Africa. It will also help centralise the network's operations, which are currently scattered around the world.

'The programmes are currently uplinked to our Rome office before they are broadcast to our subscribers. But we will gradually move all of its operations to Bahrain beginning with those that don't affect its broadcasts," commented Ali Ajouz, vice-president of marketing for Orbit. He declined to give a timeframe for the move but said it was among the company's medium-term plans.

Ajouz made these statements during a press conference that announced a five-year renewal agreement between Orbit and ESPN International. Under the agreement, Orbit will continue to include ESPN as part of its bouquet, and will broadcast sports programmes in both, Arabic and English to more than 20 countries in the Middle East.
'The combination of Orbit-ESPN's current programming with ESPN International's content will enable us to offer the most complete and dynamic 24-hour sports channel in the region," commented Michael Anthony, vice-president of Orbit sports programming.

Orbit-ESPN is a 24-hour sports service providing coverage of the world's premier sporting events as well as those with local appeal. The channel's programming will include coverage of the Formula One race due to be held in Bahrain next year. Other highlights include NBA, NFL and NHL games and major golf, tennis, soccer, horse racing and motor events.

The ESPN alliance as well as the network's move to the Middle East was welcomed by Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, president of the General Organisation for Youth and Sports (Goys). "Orbit, in cooperation with Goys, will cover main sport events like the third Prime Minister International Soccer Championship to be held in December, Asian Qualifiers matches which will be hosted in Bahrain this month and also the local football league," commented Shaikh Fawaz.

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