By Marcus Webb
Middle East pay-TV provider Showtime has extended its exclusive output deal with Cairo-based Founoon Films to launch Al Shasha, an all-Arabic movie channel.
Middle East pay-TV provider Showtime has teamed up with Cairo-based Founoon Films to launch an all-Arabic movie channel, Al Shasha (Flicks). The deal follows the success of Arabic pay-per-view movies on Showtime, which normally focuses on English language programmes, such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount. The 24-hour channel will be available at no extra cost to all Showtime Movies Plus and Total Plus subscribers. “Following completion of a long term licence agreement with Founoon, the region’s leading film producer, Al Shasha will premiere many recent Arabic movie blockbusters like Taeh Fi Amrica which will be broadcasted for the first time ever on TV after it has been in the Gulf Cinemas for the past couple of months,” says Peter Einstein, Showtime president and chief executive. “In addition, on Showtime Home Cinema latest movies like Gaana Al Bayan Al Tali and Mozakarat Moraheqa – make Showtime the premium network for Arabic movies.“Access to Founoon’s extensive movie library and Showtime’s unrivalled presentation expertise in delivering the best in television entertainment, guarantee Al Shasha viewers the highest quality Arabic movie channel available,” Continues Einstein. “The success of Arabic movies on the Showtime Home Cinema Pay-Per-View movie service has opened up another stream of revenue for film producers. The launch of Al Shasha gives company’s like Founoon the opportunity to generate more revenue to fund future films.”The appeal for Founoon is in reaching audiences in wealthy Saudi Arabia, where cinemas are banned. Showtime already subtitles much of its 37-channel video output, but launching Al Shasha pits Showtime head to head with two rival pay platforms, Orbit and Arab Radio & Television (ART). Both concentrate on Arabic material.Einstein recently told Daily Variety that Showtime is in discussions with Dubai authorities about building a facility in the emirate's Media Production City, which offers attractive tax breaks for companies. He added that while it's still early, the next step may well be taking Showtime public.