ART’s scores an own goal

The ART network thought it had done the deal of the century by securing exclusive rights to broadcast this year’s World Cup from Germany.

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By  Ben Dawson Published  June 11, 2006

|~||~||~|The ART network thought it had done the deal of the century by securing exclusive rights to broadcast this year’s World Cup from Germany. And a great deal it was, until executives at the company decided on a ludicrous pricing structure. Non-subscribers are being asked to pay a one off fee of nearly US$300 to watch the games, the highest fee anywhere in the world. Even loyal ART customers are being slapped with an extra US$100 charge. Little wonder that thousands of illegal satellite viewing cards are now being sold in Dubai for less than US$10 a go, and being bought like hotcakes. To make matters worse for ART in Dubai, two of the biggest apartment block owners, Silver Sands and Golden Sands, have decided to give all their tenants completely free viewing of the World Cup. I called ART to find out why they were charging so much. “Because we are showing the World Cup for a whole year,” explained a spokesman. But I thought it only lasted four weeks? “Yes,” he said. “But you can keep watching it all year.” Out of office Not surprisingly, the big kick off has sparked a big exodus from Dubai. I am told that at least 1200 office staff in Dubai timed their holidays to begin last Thursday, while another 300 conveniently fell sick. Now, I wonder where they’ve all gone?? Sour grapes Still on the World Cup, rumour has it that i-mate boss Jim Morrison (pictured) has flown off to Germany just in time to watch England vs Trinidad & Tobago. Scottish-born Morrison, upset that his own country didn’t make the finals, was overheard telling staff he’ll be supporting “any team that England plays.” Fully booked More news on the battle between Emirates Airline and Virgin Atlantic over the all important Dubai-London route. My spies at Emirates tell me that a recent Virgin Atlantic flight, which was completely sold out, actually contained eight Emirates staff, all on a special “surveillance” mission. Before they get too excited, they had better realise that last month Virgin is thought to have sent 19 of its staff on Emirates flights, to check out the quality of the opposition. No wonder I can’t book a seat on either these days. Wrong number To the fabulous Burj Al Arab last week for a special appearance by UK telecoms giant BT. Last week the company renewed its commitment to the Middle East region with the announcement of its new regional headquarters in Dubai as well as the unveiling of its Middle-East roadmap for the roll-out of cutting-edge services. The network roll-out in the Middle East, part of BT’s worldwide 21 Century Network programme, is due to be completed by March 2007. All good stuff, but I fear that Brian Armstrong, regional director for the Middle East and Africa, may have got himself somewhat confused amidst all the excitement. Throughout his ten minute presentation, he kept getting confused over the size of BT’s worldwide investment, which varied between US$19 billion and 19 billion pounds sterling. Later, when asked by one journalist which was the correct figure, he replied: “I understand that you guys often get this wrong”.||**||

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