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Murdoch aims for original Arab content

Abu Dhabi, March 10, 2010

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has ambitions to produce Arab content to serve 335 million people in the region and abroad, helped by its partnership with Saudi-based media group Rotana.

News Corp agreed last month to buy 9 per cent of Saudi-based media group Rotana for $70 million with an option to double the stake. Murdoch also appealed in a speech to a media conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for governments to relax media regulations.

'To be frank, Rotana does not really need our financing. We are partnering with Rotana for something more ambitious: to tap into Arab talent and ultimately produce original Arab content for market both here and abroad,' Murdoch told the three-day Abu Dhabi Media Summit which opened yesterday (March 9).

At the time, the deal sparked speculation that News Corp's Fox News would launch an Arabic version to compete with news broadcaster rivals Al Jazeera and MBC's Al Arabiya.

Fox International Channels would move some of its operations to Abu Dhabi, News Corp said on Monday.

A Fox Arabic channel would provide a counterpoint to Al Jazeera's English-language 24-hour news and current-affairs channel, launched in 2006 by the company previously best known in the West for airing video of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

News Corp's ambitions in the region may not be limited to news -- and Rotana's Chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said at the time the deal was announced that a Fox Arabic news channel was unlikely.

Rotana owns the Arab world's biggest record label and about 40 per cent of the region's movies, most of which are Egyptian.

It also operates 11 free-to-air television channels, two of which are through a partnership with News Corp.

News Corp currently has limited music offerings. Its MySpace social network, which built its popularity on showcasing bands, is struggling. News Corp also airs the hit talent show American Idol, but does not own the franchise. – Reuters




Tags: Murdoch | Rotana | Arab content | Abu Dhabi media Summit |

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