Across the Mideast, formats remain king.The jewel in Lebanese satcaster LBC’s sked remains “Star Academy,” based on Endemol’s “Fame Academy,” while Future TV continues to pin its hope on “Superstar,” the pan-Arab version of Fremantle’s “Pop Idol.” LBC also has added another Endemol skein to its lineup with “Deal or No Deal.” Elsewhere, Dubai TV is making a push with Dutch shingle Intellygents’ “Take It or Leave It” as well as Endemol’s “Extreme Makeover.” The Arab world’s No. 1 satcaster, MBC, meanwhile has been busy acquiring formats by rolling out localized versions of “Test the Nation,” “Pimp My Ride” and “The Biggest Winner,” based on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Away from reality skeins, Dubai TV is investing in homegrown drama productions, such as medical skein “Critical Moments,” and acquisition of the Arab rights for global smash “Ugly Betty.” MBC is reaching out to its male audience by launching MBC Action, featuring a sked filled with the likes of “Lost” and “Prison Break,” and Future TV is launching Future News, set to preem later this year. The big three pan-Arab satcasters — MBC, Dubai TV and LBC — have all expanded their operations into the potentially lucrative North African market by launching dedicated channels with specially tailored content. The rise of women’s chat also has been a marked development in recent months, with Rotana’s “Hala,” Egyptian private satcaster Al Mehwar’s “The Big Talk,” MBC’s “Kalam Nawaem” and Dubai TV’s “Nashwa” all attempting to outdo one another with ever-more risque and controversial subjects. In Israel, rival nets Hot, the country’s leading cable provider, and Yes, the leading sat platform, are feeling the heat of competition. Both have been forced to scale back content deals in an attempt to cut costs.
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