AMG to get 'aggressive' in TV

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Arab Media Group, the rapidly expanding communications empire owned by the Dubai government, has set its crosshair on the television market with the launch of a new division, Arabian Broadcasting Network.

It plans to roll out a series of satellite TV channels and digital broadcast services over the next 12 months and has already agreed a deal with MTV to launch its Arabic music channel MTV Arabiya later this year.

Abdullatif Al Sayegh, CEO of Arab Media Group, is the CEO and chairman of Arabian Broadcasting Network (ABN). MTV Arabiya will be launched through ABN's subsidiary, the Arabian Television Network (ATN), which will have production and broadcasting facilities in the upcoming Dubai Studio City.

ABN said it plans to "aggressively target niche market segments" this year, aimed at local Arabs and expats.

ABN initially plans to offer free-to-air channels, but the network will look at investment in, and partnerships with, other regional and international media production firms and distributors.

Al Sayegh said: "People have expressed strong interest in watching television that presents accurate local perspectives. Through the launch of this new network, we want to support and strengthen the domestic and regional television industries.

"Our partnership with MTV is a significant step in our long-term strategic vision to offer an international channel dedicated to Arab music and culture. All of us in the team are excited about MTV Arabiya's forthcoming launch, and look forward to developing additional growth opportunities in the region."

MTV Arabiya will be a 24-hour, free-to-air television channel catering to an Arabic-speaking youth audience across the pan-Arab region.

Over half the population of the Middle East is under the age of 25, and MTV Arabiya hopes to capture the eyeballs of this market, and subsequently the revenue from advertisers targeting this market.

Bhavneet Singh, acting general manager and vice president of MTV Emerging Markets, said: "MTV first launched in 1981 when cable television was in its infancy. Since then we've grown into the world's largest TV network by becoming part of the fabric of youth culture, and by respecting audience diversity and different cultures."

MTV Arabiya will feature music videos, animated programmes, reality shows and comedies, including some locally produced content.

The channel is keen to tap into the region's growing fascination with mobile phones and online technology by offering streamed content to handsets, along with a dedicated Arabic language MTV website.

An announcement on the launch date of MTV Arabiya is expected to be made within the next three months.

Other divisions within AMG include Awraq Publishing, home of Emirates Today, and Arabian Radio Network.

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