Veteran British broadcaster Sam Barnett steps down as CEO of MBC

Sam Barnett will continue to work with MBC Group in an advisory role from January 2020 'focusing on strategy-related matters.' (Getty Images)
Updated 08 October 2019

Veteran British broadcaster Sam Barnett steps down as CEO of MBC

  • Barnett’s departure comes at a time of rapid expansion at the broadcaster which was originally founded in 1991 in London
  • MBC Group is ramping up investment in its video on demand offering as it goes to head to head with Netflix and Amazon in the region

LONDON: Sam Barnett has resigned as the CEO of MBC Group after 17 years at the region’s biggest broadcaster.

The Dubai-based company behind hit show ‘Arabs Got Talent’ has yet to name his successor.

His departure comes at a challenging time for the region’s big traditional broadcasters who face increasing competition from the booming video on demand sector and new entrants from Netflix to Amazon.

“MBC was the first big broadcaster in the Arab world. It is still the biggest in the region and brought satellite broadcasting to the Arab world. It brought international shows too, and could arguably be seen as the biggest westernizing influence on GCC youth,” said Austyn Allison, the editor of Campaign Middle East.

“It is now looking more to video on demand. It’s up against global giants such as Netflix, but has the edge with its Arabic content, especially the stuff it produces itself. Shows like ‘Arabs Got Talent’ have been huge hits, and it has also been a pioneer of branded content in the region over the years, integrating brands into TV shows with increasing sophistication.”

MBC chairman Waleed Al-Ibrahim paid tribute to Barnett’s contribution to the company in a memo to staff.

“It is with a mix of sadness and gratitude that I would like to inform you of the resignation of our dear colleague Sam Barnett as CEO of MBC Group,” he said.

“Since 2002, Sam has played a pivotal role in the development and great success of the group, leading by example with ambition, resilience, fairness and high standards of integrity and humility, achieving numerous significant accomplishments in the process.”

Barnett will continue to work with the company in an advisory role from January 2020 “focusing on strategy-related matters,” Al-Ibrahim added.

MBC has been investing heavily in creating more homegrown Arabic-language drama comes as global video on demand players from Netflix to Amazon eye the Middle East as a potentially lucrative and under-served market.


Bangladesh police say violence over Facebook post kills 4

Updated 29 min 16 sec ago

Bangladesh police say violence over Facebook post kills 4

  • The violence took place Sunday in Borhanuddin in the southern district of Bhola when angry protesters demanded the punishment of a Hindu man for the alleged Facebook comment
  • The man denied making the comment, saying his Facebook account had been hacked

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Police say at least four people were killed after security officials in southern Bangladesh opened fire to disperse hundreds of Muslims during a protest over an alleged social media post undermining Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Local police chief Sarkar Mohammad Kaisar says the violence took place Sunday in Borhanuddin in the southern district of Bhola when angry protesters demanded the punishment of a Hindu man for the alleged Facebook comment. The man denied making the comment, saying his Facebook account had been hacked.
Kaisar says four people were killed and dozens were wounded.
Communal tensions often pop up in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, with minority groups saying they face discrimination.