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Local TV comes to Dubai

Television group launches channels

Execs at Dubai Media Inc., the government-owned net that includes flagship channel Dubai TV, English-language Dubai One, terrestrial channel Sama Dubai and a sports channel, are thinking big and local as they move into 2008.

The net is planning to launch two channels in the months ahead, while their long-awaited Arabic version of “Ugly Betty” is also set to be completed in time for next Ramadan, traditionally the most lucrative and competitive month on the Arab TV calendar.

DMI execs are also holding advanced discussions with a number of U.S. and European universities to build a multi- media communications school in Dubai.

“It will be the foremost communications learning center in the Middle East,” says DMI managing editor Ali Jaber. “The idea is that graduates will support the media industry in the region, the center of which is in Dubai. We’re working with a number of big names in the U.S. and Europe to forge an alliance in terms of curriculum, training and know-how.”

The new project, which is being developed in partnership with the American U. of Dubai, will boast centers in film, broadcasting and journalism.

DMI execs are also in talks with leading Arab broadcasters, including market leader MBC, to support the school by offering students scholarships. Docking in the Gulf

As for programming, the net will be moving away from its current pan-Arab appeal toward a more targeted pan-Gulf audience. Many states in the Persian Gulf have found their economies swelled by the record-high oil prices, and the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, possesses the most important ad revenue market.

New technologies also will be high on the agenda, with DMI revamping its online services ahead of the bow next year of an all-new Web-based channel, allowing Arab auds to watch what they want when they want.

Execs at the net are also reformatting all their existing content to be suitable for mobile viewing.

“We’re compiling a huge library of mobile content based on reformatting the inventory we already have,” Jaber says. “I don’t know if the region is ready for it yet, but we’re doing it anyway because the incremental cost isn’t that much. It will be good for us and the audience if we can be pioneers with this technology.”

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