EXCLUSIVE: Saudi-owned MBC Group to launch Persian TV channel this weekend

Updated 03 October 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Saudi-owned MBC Group to launch Persian TV channel this weekend

  • New station to focus on youth and provide world-class entertainment in Farsi
  • MBC Persia will launch on Oct. 6, initially airing subtitled and dubbed dramas, comedies, talent-spotting shows and Hollywood and Bollywood films

LONDON: Middle Eastern broadcasting giant MBC Group is set to launch a Farsi TV channel this weekend, targeting a huge youth population in what is a competitive media market.
MBC Persia will launch on Oct. 6, initially airing subtitled and dubbed dramas, comedies, talent-spotting shows and Hollywood and Bollywood films.
Mazen Hayek, official spokesman of the Saudi-owned MBC Group, exclusively told Arab News that the broadcaster would start to make original productions for the general entertainment channel by the end of this year or early 2019.
“It’s in the pipeline,” he said. “We’re contemplating all possible genres of original content.”
A major target audience for the channel will be the youth, notably in Iran where the majority of the population is under 30. But Hayek said the channel would have broader regional appeal and that eventually it could be available to Farsi speakers in the US.
“We believe the youth represent an overwhelming majority among the region’s Farsi speakers,” he said. “The youth deserve to have an exceptional family entertainment channel to tune in to.”
But Hayek acknowledged it was a hugely competitive market, with dozens of Farsi channels broadcast from outside Iran the key competitors.
“The list of Persian-language TV channels is long, so the competition is established,” Hayek said.
“We will try to (use) our knowledge at MBC, our lead and expertise in producing content, and in acquiring the best content available, to give the young Farsi speakers an amazing experience.
“Our primary focus would be to compete with the strongest foreign-based TV channels.”
Hayek said the channel would not have a physical presence in Iran, but that he sees advertising revenues coming from elsewhere once the channel is established.
“Nothing will stop us from offering this amazing channel to Farsi-speakers, especially the youth,” he said.
“We hope that the success of the channel viewership-wise, ratings wise, will lead to subsequent commercial success.”
MBC Persia will be available via Yahsat and be complemented by digital platforms and social media channels.

MBC Group had a previous attempt to launch a Persian channel nearly a decade ago. The original channel has the same identity but a different content mix with no original programming and a reliance on subtitling Hollywood films into Farsi. The project was eventually shelved before it’s current revival. 


Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

View of damages at the office of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who rents at the building of the NGO Center of Investigation on Communication (CINCO) in Managua on December 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

  • Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents

MANAGUA: Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of an opposition daily and then stripped human rights and activist groups’ permission to operate, those targeted said Saturday.
Nine police officers armed with rifles entered the offices late Friday and started pushing people, beating others and making fun of reporters after journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro challenged them to take on his media outlet without a search warrant in his online daily Confidencial and news broadcasts Esta Semana and Esta Noche, he said.
What you are doing “is just de facto. If you have the order, I ask you to show it,” Chamorro said from the street to the agent who barred him and other colleagues from entering the offices.
“Police did not show any order at all... so this is an armed assault on private property, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free enterprise,” he later told reporters.
Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents.
Chamorro went to the police headquarters to demand the return of equipment, noting that the newspaper and television programs “are private companies attached to the commercial register, and have nothing to do with organizations that are being persecuted.”
The offices of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and four other NGOs in Managua were also occupied, and lawmakers canceled their permits to operate.
“Brutal display of brute force against journalists from @confidencial_ni in Nicaragua... this regime... aims to demolish critical voices in its country,” Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco said on Twitter.
Leftist President Daniel Ortega first came to power in 1979 as a leader of the leftist Sandinista rebels that toppled the US-backed Somoza family dictatorship. After leaving office in 1990 he returned to power in 2007.