Prince Alwaleed bin Talal today he unveiled a major tie-up with another American media mogul’s empire, Bloomberg LP. The Saudi prince and Bloomberg LP will work together on launching a new Arabic-language 24-hour news channel, called Alarab, in 2012 that will feature five hours a day of Bloomberg-branded financial and economic programming.
This is in addition to Bloomberg’s extensive business dealings in Dubai. (See links below)
Politico Like most of the other major channels in the region, this one will be aimed at Saudi Arabia – the largest and most lucrative advertising market – but not located there. “Saudi Arabian laws do not allow for independent news channels,” Jamal Khashoggi, the well-known Saudi journalist tapped to lead the channel, told POLITICO. “So far, we have managed to secure licenses for radio, but not for television.”
Khashoggi, the former editor-in-chief of Saudi’s progressive Al Watan newspaper, has been a strong voice for reform in Saudi Arabia. He resigned last year after the paper published – without his knowledge, he said, since he was on vacation –an article by a poet questioning Salafism, a conservative string of Sunni Islam that is at the heart of the Saudi regime. He had previously clashed with Saudi authorities over some of Al Watan’s writings on women’s rights and the secret police.
Alarab enters a cluttered Pan-Arab satellite television market, but one without much of a business news presence. The channel’s main competitor will be Al Arabiya, the news channel owned by the Saudi-backed MBC Group, which has its headquarters in Dubai and has midday business coverage focused on the Saudi stock market.
The prince has been planning the channel for a while. Last summer, AP reported that he was going to launch a 24-hour news channel, led by Khashoggi, in partnership with Fox. “Many reporters assumed that it has to be Fox Arabia, considering that he [Prince Alwaleed]is a major shareholder in News Corp., but we immediately denied that. It’s going to be totally independent, totally owned by Alwaleed bin Talal.”
Prince Alwaleed, who is News Corp.’s largest shareholder outside the Murdoch family, has long had relationships with News Corp.’s Fox subsidiaries in the region, carrying Fox Movies and Fox Series as part of his media company Rotana’s group of satellite channels.