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Arab Media Forum 2010 witnesses animated discussion on broadcast rights for sporting events

United Arab Emirates: Saturday, May 15 - 2010 @ 09:19

Abdulqader’s comments came during a seminar on ‘Sports Journalism…Pressure of Globalisation and the Sports Economy’ held on the second day of the Arab Media Forum 2010. The session aimed to explore the influence of sports and its economy and the local presence in sports journalism in general and television in particular.

Moderated by Bital Al-Qaws, Presenter of ‘Fel Marma’ – Al Arabiya News Channel, the panel discussion highlighted how the economy of sports affects sports journalism; how the national interests of a sports channel can make up for the loss of transmission rights for global/regional sporting events, the increased influence of companies that buy the broadcasting rights and its effect on the size of the open or free broadcast sector as against the pay channel market.

Speakers at the session included Mohammed Najib, General Manager, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel; Mohammad Jamil Abdulqader, The Chairman of Arab Sports Press Association; Rashed Al Amiri, General Manager, Dubai Sports Channel; and Mustafa Hussein, President, Nile Sports Channel.

Rashed Amiri raised questions on the real purpose behind exclusive broadcasting rights and why a channel acquires such rights for billions of dollars when the subscribers do not exceed even one million at the best. He pointed out that, on the other hand, free to air channels have the wherewithal to provide competitive service and reach a much wider segment of audience with a viewership of over 120 million.

Amiri added: “While in the West, the sports industry has evolved to a large extent, the Arab world still lags behind when it comes to sports coverage.”

Against a scenario that sport is no longer a stand-alone activity, the demarcation line between sports and the economy has increasingly blurred over the years. Sports continue to offer a reliable form of returns for businesses and the overall economy, and athletes themselves have chosen to engage themselves in lucrative investments linked to their career. As a result, viewers and fans of these players have almost become the ‘clients’ of these investment companies.

Developments such as these have impacted sports journalism, the media and sports television channels. Broadcasting matches on television for free have become nearly extinct and pay channels are the order of the day.

Speaking in favour of the pay-to-watch concept, Mohammed Najib said that as a free to air channel, the Abu Dhabi Sports Channel is being forced to migrate some of its streams to the pay TV platform because of a few broadcasters that are moving in to gain a near monopoly in the industry. He also promised that the Abu Dhabi Sports Channel will provide the highest global standards in broadcast through its pay channels that will be introduced in the near future.

Mostafa Hussein said: “The answer is not about exclusivity, and it is definitely not about monopoly; the product is one, but you can certainly stand out through creative packaging and delivery.”

Bital Al-Qaws questioned the role of governments and the Arab Sports Press Association in creating rules and regulations to protect the viewer.

To this, Mostafa Hussein responded: “Channels should first agree amongst each other before rules can be created; this is to ensure the rules are effective.”

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, AMF 2010 opened on 12 May at The Atlantis-Palm. Themed ‘Shifting Mediascape: Inspiring Content…Expanding Reach’, the event has brought together more than 2,000 media personalities and experts from Arab countries and across the world.

Debating and discussing key industry topics that impact today’s media world, AMF 2010 has hosted individual seminars and workshops on citizen journalism, sports media, media in Asia, Arabic channels’ diffidence to expand into other languages, and the etiquette of debate on live TV.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the winners of the third edition of the Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Youth Media Awards received their prizes at a gala ceremony on the first day of the forum.

The Arab Media Forum 2010 will conclude with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid honouring the winners of Arab Journalism Awards, the region’s most coveted distinction for journalistic excellence.

Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), Arab Media Group (AMG), Nakheel, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Emirates airline are the key sponsors for the forum.

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Saturday, May 15- 2010 @ 9:19 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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