Arab broadcaster in ‘3D-TV’ move

The world’s first 3D television network is poised to launch in the Arab world this September, Arabian Business can reveal.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  April 2, 2006

The world’s first 3D television network is poised to launch in the Arab world this September, Arabian Business can reveal. The station, called ABCD, will offer programming that can be watched in conventional 2D, or through 3D glasses designed to bring the screen to life. The project is being finalized by Arabian Broadcasting Company, part of the Avanti Consulting Group. So far, nearly US$300 million has been ploughed into developing the new channel, with will be available on the Nilesat satellite print. Avanti boss Dr. Issam Daoud told Arabian Business: “It’s something I have been working on for around three years and we have got the technology ready to do it. The first channel will be for the Arab world, with two more channels to follow, for the West and for Asia.” The new channel’s studios are based in London and Monaco, with an additional studio expected to open in Dubai later this year. Dr. Daoud says his technical team have been working on the technology to shoot programmes in 3D – which can also be easily viewed in 2D. “The reason I think people will watch it is because it is 3D. Obviously it is unique, because nobody else in the world is watching 3D. The first print from Nilesat gives us coverage of the MENA and Southern Europe region, and the Iranian subcontinent. That’s a lot of people who will have access to the channel, and all they have to do to watch it is stick on a pair of 3D glasses,” he explains. He added: “The real key to success in television is programming – and we have some unique plans there too.” Apart from a number of adventure style shows filmed in 3D, the new channel intends to film the religious Kaaba ceremony in 3D during Ramadan, followed by the Haj in Mecca next year. “All these major Muslim religious festivals will be covered by ABCD in 3D. That’s a potential audience of over 300 million people,” he says. Sponsorship slots for the “3D Movie Night” are selling for US$2 million a go and a number of distribution deals for the 3D glasses required to watch the channel have also been set up. Dr. Daoud explained: “Many supermarkets in the Arab world have been approached to take branded 3D glasses on specific products of food, drink and magazine. We have a lot of research to back up the facts. If coca cola have the glasses they will sell more cans than pepsi. It’s as simple as that. The plan is for the main sponsors to build their own glasses which we will then distribute at points of sale. This way, advertisers have a pretty good idea who is watching because they know how many glasses have been taken. If we get rid of 80 million, we think at least half those people will try them on out of curiosity. That means 40 million people are tuning into our channel. That is a very, very large number of people,” he says. Dr. Daoud is planning to float the company on the London Stock Exchange within three years, and says that almost all profits will be donated to needy causes. “One of the main programmes will focus on starvation in Africa, and funds raised through it will be distributed to help people there. We are in talks with the likes of Tim Sebastian and Imran Khan to help us promote the shows, so I am confident we can do something very positive here.” Dr Daoud says that he is also in talks with a number of other leading celebrities with a view to their participation in the Afrian initiatives. He hopes the initiatives will raise at least US$10m within a few months, and a full line up of participants will be announced later this year.

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