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. 


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019
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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).