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. 


Fake News Watch: Beware! Lebanon’s water is polluted with … water

Updated 26 March 2019
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Fake News Watch: Beware! Lebanon’s water is polluted with … water

  • A weekly round-up of bogus reports and phony facts in the mainstream and social media.

1 Fears flow over dihydrogen monoxide — aka “water” 

A deadly pollutant in Lebanon’s spring waters has been detected, according to social media rumors.

But the toxin in question — the scary-sounding “dihydrogen monoxide” — is in fact … water.

The chemical term is technically correct, though rarely used in common conversation, and has often been used in parodies, or to evoke fear in the minds of people.

Such was the case in the Middle East recently, after the South Lebanon Water Establishment recently moved to deny social-media rumors claiming spring waters are polluted with the compound.

“Some are circulating on social media a report attributed to the establishment saying that spring waters are polluted with dihydrogen monoxide — which is another unfamiliar chemical name for water,” the organization was quoted as saying by Lebanese media.

“The establishment denies what is being circulated regarding the alleged pollution or its claimed consequences,” it said in a statement quoted by An-Nahar newspaper. 

It described the rumors as a “silly joke” that will “not pass and will be prosecuted lawfully.”

 

2 France denies suspending visas for Algerians 

The French Embassy in Algeria has denied reports claiming that visa applications for Algerian citizens have been suspended in Algiers.

A statement by the embassy said: “Recently, false and strange information has been circulated, which the consul general of France in Algeria has completely denied.”

The statement, cited by Al-Ahram newspaper, described the reports as “false allegations,” adding that consulates across Algeria have not suspended issuing visas. 

 

3 Truth about Egypt student ‘disappearance’

A deputy head at a branch of Azhar University in Egypt has denied rumors claiming that a female student at the college has disappeared.

Osama Abdel Raouf said in statements quoted by Youm7 newspaper that they have contacted the college student’s family and that they confirmed she did not disappear. 

He added: “All the names and numbers of female students on campus have been reviewed and no absence cases have been registered.”

Abdel Raouf warned students of engaging in circulating such rumors, saying that those who will do so will be “immediately dismissed” from campus.