Stayaway radio group attacked

The organiser of a conference focused on driving up standards in Middle East radio has accused one of the industry’s biggest players of failing to support the event.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  May 7, 2006

The organiser of a conference focused on driving up standards in Middle East radio has accused one of the industry’s biggest players of failing to support the event. Ian Carless, managing partner of the International Radio Conference, has singled out Emirates Media Inc for stinging criticism for failing to send any of its staff. EMI is one of the biggest media players in the UAE. It has seven radio stations, including the English language channels Radio 1 and Radio 2, plus Abu Dhabi Emirate FM, Abu Dhabi Arabic FM, and Abu Dhabi Sound of Music. It also has three satellite television channels and owns the Arab language daily Al Ittihad. But the giant media group is not sending a single member of staff to the conference, which takes place at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai in just over a fortnight. The event includes sessions from some of the UK’s best known radio professionals on topics such as how to improve a station’s sound, how to manage difficult DJs, and the secrets of a good breakfast show. Carless told Campaign: “I find it unbelievable that anybody can be so short-sighted. If you don’t take the medium seriously yourself, how can you expect anybody else to? I find it quite disheartening — what sort of message does it send?” He said that while the Arab Media Group, which includes English language channels Dubai Eye and Dubai 92 along with Arabic language channels Al Arabiya and Al Khaleejiah, had agreed to pay for 35 staff to attend, EMI had refused to fund anyone to go — even when he offered significant discounts on the US$850 delegate fees. He said: “Apart from EMI, we’ve got someone coming from just about every station in the region, including four delegates from Afghanistan.” He predicted there would be about 130 delegates. Carless added: “Yet the people from our own home market, who you’d have expected to put their hands in their pockets are not. The EMI staff I’ve talked to are gobsmacked. A lot of them would like to come but the price is too much to pay from their own pockets.” EMI staff who entered the event’s radio awards also had to pay their own US$100 entry fees, said Carless. Carless said the awards had received about 50 entries. The most popular categories were for best station, best station programmer and best station on-air imagery. But there were no entries in the best news team category. No spokesman from EMI was available for comment, despite severall calls from Campaign. P Meanwhile, a new private radio station in Jordan has begun broadcasting, offering listeners more educational and social programming. Called Hayat FM, the station is part of the Al-Salam Audio Media Compnay. It is the latest addition to the Jordanian airwaves.

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