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Fri 12 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Braving the big bad recession

Broadcast and production continues to bloom despite the gloom.

Much as we would like to believe that the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) have been relatively well insulated from much of the impact of the recession that has hit the rest of the world, it is no longer true.

Banks, real estate agents and developers have been the first to announce job cuts and mergers.

But will the broadcast and production industry have to follow suit? With more than 360 free-to-air channels aired in this region and not all of them making much profit, we are likely to see some small players weeded out of the marketplace while some others may have to merge to stay afloat. None have been announced yet.

With the exception of rumours about one local English channel in Dubai going under, there has been very little information about the recession having affected any broadcasters at all.

In fact, Abu Dhabi is going full swing with its plans to get its media zone, twofour54 up and running while the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, which has been lying quiet for a long time has recently announced that it will be pumping US $22 million to expand its free zone facilities.

More importantly, some of the small production houses in the region are having to decline jobs for want of time to complete what's on their plate. A significant number of them are also hiring new staff so that they can accept more clients who are knocking at their door.

Lots of new investments are also on the cards for the industry. Blackstone Studios, a boutique post production facility in Dubai Studio City, recently invested in Flame 2009, which is no small investment.

Digital Image braved the recession and decided to hold a three-day workshop for Red users to try and persuade them to invest in Assimiate's Scratch software.

Our Movers & Shakers section, which mostly covers people taking on new roles in foreign countries, has three people in new roles in the region this time.

All of this is an indication that while there is a slowdown in spending generally, none of it seems to be affecting the broadcast or production sector.

Vijaya Cherian is the editor of Digital Studio.

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