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Channel 4 plans further expansion in the Middle East

Ajman-based Channel 4 Radio Network plans to expand into more regions after successfully launching itself in Iraq and Sudan.

Ajman-based Channel 4 Radio Network plans to expand into more regions after successfully launching itself in Iraq and Sudan.

“Arabic radio programming in general has not been formatted properly. It has no clear identity. This is why we believe our company can play a significant role in tuning into what people want,” says Mohammad Murad, managing director of Channel 4. “We are an established brand in the UAE, with our Arabic channel, 107.8, being the leader in its category. We made a conscious decision to target this station to a young listener base between 15 and 35 years of age. There was no point in trying to cater to everybody and it certainly would not help us to be the fourth or fifth Arabic station in terms of following,” he adds.

Channel 4 has stuck with this strategy for its Baghdad station, which went on air late last month. It is the first commercial music station to broadcast from the Iraqi capital, home to eight million people. The station will have an initial coverage radius of 100 kilometres. A radio station in Khartoum, Sudan, has just gone live and will beam its programmes to a prospective market of 10 million. Again, Channel 4 Radio Network’s offering is a first for that market.

“Given our operations in the UAE, there is no need for us to reinvent the wheel when we enter a new market. Our running costs are low and this gives us the efficiencies that make a business profitable,” Murad explains.

Although the Iraqi venture is the first time Channel 4 has launched services in an overseas market, it did build radio stations in Egypt three years ago on behalf of a client.
Mohit Balani, creative head of programming, Channel 4 stresses that “the immediate need is to ensure a continued strong focus on the pulse of the listenership and their needs in programming, and to host shows that are relevant to their mindset, local flavours and tastes.”

Channel 4, which currently operates three stations in the UAE 107.8 (Arabic), 89.1 (Hindi) and 104.8 (English), is also considering the possibility of expanding into India and Pakistan.

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