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Wed 14 Jul 2010 06:25 PM

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US TV giant eyes Arabic entertainment channel

Turner Broadcasting plans to launch Arabic version of TNT for Mideast audiences.

US TV giant eyes Arabic entertainment channel

Turner Broadcasting, the US network behind CNN, has said it plans to launch an Arabic-language version of its entertainment channel TNT to be broadcast across the Middle East.

The news comes a week after the Time Warner-owned unit said it is to transmit a free-to-air Arabic edition of its popular Cartoon Network, in a bid to bolster its presence in the Middle East.

“In terms of launching another channel, I think it’s likely,” Chris Groves, senior vice president of business affairs and managing director for the Middle East, Turner Broadcasting, told Arabian Business.

“Increasingly we are moving beyond kids and news. We recently launched a general entertainment channel in Turkey called TNT [and] we’d certainly look to do that in the Middle East as well, in the medium-term.”

The network aims to boost earnings by tapping into the region’s 35 million households, and broadening its reach into branded merchandise.

“We’ve had a couple of great hit shows that we want to bring to the region and make accessible to all our customers. We weren’t really able to do that before, we were only reaching just over one million homes. The plan now is to reach many more,” he said. “Not just linear TV but consumer products, branded areas in shopping malls and mobile TV.”

The Cartoon Network launch is a “multimillion-dollar investment” for the network, he said.

The announcement is the latest in a string of local deals made by the US broadcaster. In April, Turner signed up to launch a Cartoon Network-branded animation academy in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s state-backed multimedia group twofour54. A production studio is also slated to begin operations next year.

“As you would expect with the academy, when we give it our brand Cartoon Network we get a license fee for that. But we’re not just putting a brand on it, we’re providing masterclasses from some of the brightest and best Turner people,” Groves said.

“As and when great ideas come out of the academy and they will, then twofour54 will make a contribution to a pilot. We then can buy and broadcast it – and twofour54 also gets their money back. It leaves everyone whole, providing we make good judgments about what is going to be a hit show and what isn’t.”

Turner has also inked a deal with Dubai’s Lammtara studio to air its flagship animation series, Freej, on its regional network and to syndicate the show outside the Middle East.

Turner, which currently has offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is mulling a number of new operations in other Middle East countries, Grove said.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar and as the business grows I would expect us to have a presence in those sorts of markets. Egypt is another obvious target,” he said.

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Basel A-Shaban 9 years ago

As if we need any more TV channels, there goes the neighborhood.

Harry Barracuda 9 years ago

Queue a mass of repeats from the TNT catalogue - only with Arabic instead of English dialogue. Pointless, really, unless our Arabic-speaking brothers want to see 2001: A Space Odyssey 16 times in a week.