Future’s bright for cable, satellite

World Brief

CAIRO — Cable and satellite penetration in the Middle East and North Africa will increase from 56.2%, or 29.5 million homes, to 67.7%, or 41 million homes, by 2010, according to a TV Informa Telecoms & Media report.

“There is a general trend in the Middle East towards market liberalization helping the broadcast sector,” according to Informa media research manager and report author Adam Thomas. “Several other positive factors have increased TV penetration, including regional common language and relative wealth, driven by oil revenues.”

In 2004 TV ad revenues were worth $1.9 billion across the region and the report forecasts growth of $3 billion by 2010.

The growth in pay TV penetration rate is led by Israel and Turkey, which will account for 5.5 million pay TV homes by 2010.

The tiny Gulf state of Qatar has the greatest cable and satellite penetration at 96% of its 99,000 households.

Disparity of wealth is major factor inhibiting greater growth. Pay TV operators sell to a relatively small proportion of wealthy locals, while also catering to expat communities.

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