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.