That’s Sky News in Arabic. The Financial Times reports that BSkyB is in talks to launch a 24-hour Arabic rolling news service, based in Abu Dhabi. The Sky News offshoot could launch within two years. The Arabic news channel would be 50/50 joint venture with an unnamed local investor.
I’m guessing that may be Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, whose Rotana Holdings Rupert Murdoch bought into back in February. Saudi-based Bin Talal has spoken about launching a Sky News-style channel. Murdoch owns 9% of Rotana, his largest investment in the Middle East to date. He has the option to increase his Rotana stake to 18.2% within 18 months.
I can see why Sky News positions itself as an edgier, less dowdy competitor to BBC News 24 here in Britain. But I’m less convinced there’s room to bring something new to the party in Arabia, despite there being 300 million Arab speakers in the world. Just imagine all that advertising cash. Sky News Arabia will be competing against Qatar-based al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya. And I wonder how local viewers will react when they realise it’s co-owned by the people behind Fox News.
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