A new Arabic language news channel in the pipeline from Saudi Arabia will be “moderate”, focussed on the Arab world, and geared towards a youth market, according to Abu Dhabi daily The National.
Billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has appointed journalist Jamal Khashoggi to run the 24 hour news operation, which will reportedly fall under the remit of Kingdom Holding rather than the Rotana entertainment group. Both are owned by Prince Alwaleed.
Speaking to The National, Dr Hala Sarhan, president of Rotana Studios, said the new station would launch in “a few months… it could be 11 months, it could be six months.
“I’m very keen to see it come out because I think it’s going to be different – it’s going to be really fully of life and energy, with a young look,” she said. “We’re going to be moderate, we’re going to be young, we’re going to be focused on the Arab world, and business and politics, and the whole world.”
According to the report, it is not yet clear which country the news channel will broadcast from, however it will be in the Arabian Gulf. It will compete with popular pan regional news channels Al Jazeera which broadcasts from Qatar and the Saudi-backed Al Arabiya from Dubai Media City.
Dr Sarhan also told The National that this new Arabic language channel would be a separate entity from that being planned by BskyB , under its Sky News banner. This is despite the financial ties between the two media groups: News Corporation owns 39.1% of BskyB and 9.09% of Rotana and, in turn, Prince Alwaleed has a 7% stake in News Corporation.
Meanwhile, a statement from the UK broadcaster said: “Sky News remains in discussions with an Abu Dhabi-based private investor about the potential to establish a 24/7 Arabic language satellite news channel. If the discussions are successful, the channel could launch within 24 months.”