Tunisia gets 24-hour private channel

Hannibal TV, Tunisia's first 24-hour private channel, is expected to begin broadcasting shows in Arabic and French later this year.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  July 28, 2004

Tunisia’s first 24-hour private channel will start broadcasting later this year. Hannibal TV, targeted at young viewers, will begin by broadcasting general interest shows in Arabic and French. “The core of our target audience will be people aged between 7 and 25,” Larbi Nasra, proprietor of the channel, said. Nasra refuses to let fears of censorship or a crowded marketplace dampen his enthusiasm ahead of the launch of his channel. Initially, Hannibal TV will not broadcast news programmes as it is not yet ready to compete with Arab news channels. “It wouldn’t be good to start with shaky news programmes that don’t offer accurate and credible information. If you aren’t ready for it, better wait for the right time,” Nasra said. Television experts say it may be tough for a new satellite television channel like Hannibal TV to attract a significant share of viewers in Tunisia because of the fierce competition from foreign channels. More than 2,500 foreign television stations compete for an audience in Tunisia, with a population of 10 million and one state-controlled television channel, media experts said. However, the local cable marketplace is relatively attractive and has strong advertising potential with 92% of households owning a television. "I'm aiming at a Tunisian audience, with its own traditions, culture and aspirations. I see no competition for that audience except from the state national TV," Nasra said. "There are no rival private channels. Many channels are received in Tunisia but they are Lebanese or from other Arab or European countries," he said. He argued that Tunisians were ready to watch a local channel. "When state television comes out with decent programmes during the holy month of Ramadan, all Tunisians tune in," he said. Nasra, a wealthy businessman, has had to shell out US $12.1 million from his own funds for the channel as local banks have refused to finance this project.

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