Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp (ADMIC), a private investment company owned by HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the UK’s leading pay television provider, have formed a 50-50 joint venture to bring a new, free-to-air Arabic-language news channel to viewers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from 2012.
Based in Abu Dhabi, the new company will operate under the Sky News brand, which has gained a reputation for independent, impartial and innovative coverage since becoming Europe’s first 24-hour news channel in 1989. The venture will provide comprehensive coverage of the regional and international news agenda through a 24-hour channel offering rolling news and current affairs programming, as well as a video-rich website and mobile applications.
Content for the channel, website and mobile applications will be created and delivered by more than 180 multimedia journalists, supported by a full technical and operations team. The venture will be based in new studios to be developed at Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 media zone. In addition, it will have a network of newsgathering bureaux across MENA, further offices in London and Washington DC, and access to Sky News’ wider network of international bureaux.
Adrian Wells, previously Sky News’ Head of International News, has been appointed to work with the ADMIC team to launch the new channel and a Director of News will be appointed in due course to lead the venture on a permanent basis.
The joint venture with ADMIC provides Sky News with an opportunity to enter the large and fast-developing MENA marketplace with the support and expertise of a respected local partner. The new channel will represent a significant expansion in the international operations of Sky News, which currently broadcasts in English to viewers in over 90 million homes in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman of ADMIC and of the new venture, said: “The new channel will be an important, independent voice for the Arab world, providing accurate and in-depth reporting of all the interesting developments in the region. We intend to set a new standard for broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa by combining the best practice, expertise and reputation for impartiality of global news leader Sky News with our regional knowledge and the world class infrastructure offered by Abu Dhabi and the twofour54 media zone.
“Abu Dhabi is seeing the growth of several sectors that are contributing to the economic diversification and human capital development of the Emirate. The addition of Sky News in Arabic to the numerous Abu Dhabi based media outlets will further contribute to this sector’s growth and position Abu Dhabi as the region’s media hub.”
Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive of BSkyB, said: “Sky News is already one of the world’s leading news services and now we’re looking forward to bringing a new voice to Arabic audiences. The Middle East and North Africa is undergoing rapid development and our partnership with ADMIC means we are able to enter this dynamic marketplace with the support and expertise of a strong local partner.”
John Ryley, Head of Sky News, said: “This venture is a significant step in the development of Sky News. We intend to bring viewers a distinctive approach to Arabic news, building on Sky News’ strong reputation for independent, impartial and innovative coverage.”
James Murdoch, Chairman of BSkyB, said: “The Middle East and North Africa is a highly attractive region for media investment and Abu Dhabi is an excellent location from which to enter this exciting marketplace.”