MBC hints that new channels possible

The MBC group has given its strongest indication yet that a further MBC channel maybe in the pipeline.

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By  Iain Akerman Published  December 18, 2005

The MBC group has given its strongest indication yet that a further MBC channel maybe in the pipeline. Speaking at the company’s 2006 grid launch in Dubai last week, Mohammed Al Mulhem, the group’s director of marketing, PR and commercials, praised the company’s growth over the past 15 years and said: “I can tell you, it’s not going to stop there.” Talking to Campaign after the launch, he said: “If there’s a clear opportunity that we can connect further with our consumers then, for sure, we will be looking at a further channel. Call it MBC5 if you like.” Al Mulhem refused to be drawn any further but said the group, which is the Middle East’s biggest satellite broadcaster, was following consumer trends. The grid launch marked a first for the Middle East and gave advertisers a snapshot of what to expect from the group in the coming year. The company released plans for radio station MBC FM to split down regional lines and for MBC3 to screen the Arab world’s first reality TV show for children. Hasan Muawad, director of radio at the MBC Group, outlined plans for MBC FM to begin broadcasting specialised regional programming for the east, west and central parts of Saudi Arabia sometime during 2006. If the move proves successful then similar regional programming may be rolled out for pan-Arab radio station Panorama FM, with targeted shows for both Baghdad in Iraq and Amman in Jordan. Al Mulhem said: “By producing specialised programmes that are specific to a certain region we are aiming to make them more relevant to the consumer.” The MBC Group includes pan-Arab satellite channels MBC, movie channel MBC2, children’s channel MBC3, entertainment channel MBC4 and 24-hour news channel Al Arabiya, as well as the two radio stations. The group’s new reality TV show for children is set to run at the beginning of next year and will feature 30 episodes. The show, called Live Safari, will be broadcast on MBC3 and was shot in South Africa with 14 children from across the Arab world. Speaking of the year ahead for MBC2, Tim Riordan, director of MBC channels, said: “We have now negotiated long-term exclusive deals with all the major studios, including new long-term deals with Paramount and Fox. This means that our movie line-up is secured for the next five years.” Of the other channels, Ashraf Younis, marketing manager for MBC1, said new channel idents would be created to “project a vibrant and energetic environment tokeep our viewers excited”.

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