Pay TV web confirms j.v. with Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp.
LONDON — Sky News has confirmed that it is to bow an Arabic-language news channel, its first foreign-language web.The 50-50 joint venture with Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp. will launch under the Sky News brand next year, broadcasting to the Middle East and North Africa. ADMIC is an investment company run by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of cash-rich English soccer club Manchester City. BSkyB chairman James Murdoch said in the statement: “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.” The English version of Sky News, launched in 1989, is highly regarded in the U.K. and prides itself on being first with breaking news. On numerous occasions the web has beat its better-funded rival BBC News to scoop the news channel of the year award at the Royal Television Society’s journalism awards. In its new Arabic incarnation, Sky News, based in Abu Dhabi, will compete with local Arabic channels, including Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, owner of a 7% stake in News Corp., is expected to bow another news web based in the Middle East. Sky News said the Arabic web will “provide comprehensive coverage” of both the regional and international news agenda. A website and mobile app are also planned. More than 180 journalists, plus a technical and operations team, will provide the service from new studios to be developed at Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 media zone. Additionally newsgathering bureaux across the region, plus offices in London and Washington D.C., and Sky News’ existing international offices, will provide content for the web. Former Sky News head of international news, Adrian Wells, is to work alongside the ADMIC team to launch the channel. A full-time director of news will be appointed in due course. 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.” Added BSkyB topper Jeremy Darroch: “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.”