Orbit pulls plug on Bahrain base
Manama, July 2, 2010
Broadcasting giant Orbit Showtime Network is pulling out of Bahrain and moving to Dubai, said a report citing a company officcial. Orbit had first moved its broadcasting base to Bahrain from Italy in 2003.
It will relocate its Middle East headquarters to the UAE within the next six months, a company official told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, on Thursday.
They said the board of directors had already approved the "sad" decision, but customers in Bahrain would not be affected.
"All service facilities will go on as usual and none of our highly-regarded customers will face any problems," said the official, who asked not to be named.
"Everything will be as usual as far as they are concerned."
However, the official refused to comment on the impact the decision would have on the company's employees in Bahrain, or why it had been made.
"It is certainly not something to be happy about - it's a sad move," they said.
One senior employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said staff did not know whether they would lose their jobs or be relocated to Dubai - saying hundreds of families in Bahrain were awaiting news on their futures.
They also claimed the decision had been taken in response to a perceived lack of action against satellite piracy in Bahrain.
"All Bahrain literally are out," they said. "Some will be relocated and some will be made redundant."
The GDN reported last December that a crackdown on illegal satellite TV providers had failed, with a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) official admitting that authorities were "pretty much where they were".
They launched a campaign against illegal Dreambox services last October, when the TRA instructed all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Bahrain to block Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being used to broadcast channels illegally through the web.
However, pirate broadcasters got around this by simply switching IP addresses and although alternative measures are available, the TRA official said they were too expensive.
Last July, it was announced Orbit and Showtime were merging to create the largest pay-TV operator in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
However, Showtime had already lost exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League - one of its key selling points - to the Abu Dhabi Media Company, which has sole rights to the Premier League in the region from next season.
Orbit Showtime Network's senior management did not respond to the GDN's enquiries yesterday.-TradeArabia News Service