BSkyB has entered a joint venture with Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan to launch a new, free-to-air Arabic-language news channel across the Middle East and North Africa.
The channel, which will launch in 2012, will broadcast under the Sky News brand after the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp – a private investment firm owned by Mansour – and BSkyB each took a 50 per cent stake in a new company.
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 station will be based in new studios to be developed at Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 media zone where 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 channel will establish a network of newsgathering bureaux across the region with further offices in London and Washington DC while also relying on access to Sky News’ network of journalists.
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.”
The new channel represents 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.”