Opinion

Mixed bag of change across MENA broadcast industry

The MENA media industry is going through a time of tumultuous change. Some of it is exciting and upbeat, others are downright disconcerting.

For instance, Saudi Arabia’s injection of $64bn into entertainment over the next ten years, the opening up of theatres, freeing its women to explore new avenues and shedding its ultra-conservative image in favour of a more modern outlook, will indeed bring new businesses to its door. Driving this change is KSA’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, CBC Egypt is seizing opportunities by planning a free-to-air launch in the GCC to fill a gap created when a niche channel moved from FTA into the pay space; and Jordan’s Roya TV is welcoming people into its new Media Academy from this month.

On the other hand, two days after MBC Group’s CEO told us in an exclusive interview about the media network’s master stroke in investing in a production house in Turkey, the network was instructed to take all its Turkish programmes off air. Not being able to broadcast programmes that a network has invested millions in over a long period of time is worrying, to say the least.

In the meantime, we are heading to NAB, and despite the Comcast-Disney-Fox-Sky saga, we will keep our eye on innovation. It will also be interesting to see what the Grass Valley-SAM merger will bring to the table. For now, at least, rumours of another impending acquisition have been put to rest.

I have left the best for last. Facebook! The controversy around its data being
compromised is one that cannot be taken lightly. But the scope of our cover story this month is limited to how this platform  has revolutionised video enough for the world to take notice. Social media is a big playing field at the moment and with the recent launch of YouTube Space in Dubai, more content producers have been empowered to create high-quality content. But there are unanswered questions. Who makes the rules in this space? When do you know you are overstepping the mark? The lines are blurred at the moment.

See you in Vegas!