Egyptian Tv Markets
Globally at Mipcom Market
By Janet Fine
The Mipcom Market in Cannes
(October 8-18, 2003) provides one of the best opportunities among the international
TV markets to sell and buy television programming, according to most professionals
in the television industry. Egypt TV has been attending for more than 20 years,
but almost failed to take the Riviera plunge this year.
"We decided at the last
moment to go to Mipcom because we realized there would be various Arab TV and
other representatives there," said Egypt Radio and Television Union (ERTU) international
marketing director Maha Darwish, coming with ERTU CEO Hassan Hamid with a special
Egyptian booth designed to enhance its image.
"It is important to give
Egyptian TV a global presence and sell to Arab channels attending at the beginning
of our program schedule. We are marketing new social drama series made for Ramadan
like 'Aunt Nour' and 'White on White' at the start of our programming schedule.
Our most popular soap operas, 'Heart and Dilemma' starring actress Yousra and
'Amina from Al Geen,' are bought by Arab channels around the world.
"There were many factors
contributing to our change of world direction because we thought our own CAMAR
TV had been the place for the Middle East to make this penetration but there is
a new president of the Economic Sector and we are also initiating a special system
In September, ERTU appointed
a new economic director, Aleya Gohar, the first time a woman has been in this
position. Her office declined an interview with TBS and other media for the next
few weeks, however, claiming the need for more time to focus on new policies.
"This step is encouraging for more changes in transnational directions," said
Darwish, who would like an increased international role for Egypt TV.
But some two years'-worth
of unpaid bills might have to be settled by Egypt TV, according to one Egypt TV
sales rep, who said that companies like Carlton, BBC, and Freemantle TV, are waiting
for remuneration, holding up deals for Warner, Fox, UA, and Paramount to sell
to Egypt TV. Darwish counters that Egypt TV has also not been paid and that bills
are being cleared.
The increased representation
of Arab channel at Mipcom reflects the growing TV and satellite penetration in
the Arab region, which is currently estimated to contain more than 150 free-to
air and 50 pay-per-view channels. Satellite revenues have reflected this increase,
doubling since last year to an annual take of about $1 billion, according to Nour
TV president Tarek Nour, who estimated half revenue comes from Saudi Arabia with
40 percent from MBC, followed by Lebanese Future, LBC TV, Al Jazeera, and Dream
TV, along with satellite channels from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Nour's "Star Maker"
is the leading TV show in Egypt, with its making of a pop star following the successful
formula of shows in the West.
Local versus Global
Egyptian TV music channels
such as Melody and Rotana chose not to participate in Mipcom, citing reasons from
Egyptian pound-dollar depreciation to preference for locally produced programming,
according to Magida Kotb, program director of Egypt's private channel El Mihwar.
Mohamed Al-Gazaz, CEO of Egypt's other private channel Dream TV, told TBS, "We
won't visit Mipcom this year because our strategy is to use more locally produced
ART channels also did
not go the Riviera route. condensing Arabic content by launching ART Aflam ("ART
Movies") 1 and 2 while Showtime's Al-Shasha ("Screen") channel also featured Arabic
films. Some TV shows for Egyptian audiences are being rethought, according to
Egyptian TV representatives, and once popular local talk shows are scoring low
ratings with viewership. The audiences are showing a preference for news channels,
reflecting the viewer rating increase for Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi, and Al Arabiya
news channels, with Egypt TV and Nile TV reformatting news to compete.
"I wanted to attend Mipcom
to represent American and European children's and Arabic-dubbed animated series
to sell to Arabic TV stations," said Raymond Iskander, CEO of Cairo-based Laser
Productions, "but I decided at the last minute to cancel attendance. It is getting
difficult to place films on Egypt TV with fewer slots, down from 300 to 50 films
and more censorship with even films like 'Topkapi' presently rejected due to its
portrayal of Turkish policemen. Repeats of foreign series are being used, making
Egypt TV boring."
Laser is Egypt's largest
agent for international programs including National Geographic Television, BBC
Worldwide TV, ABC Australia, RACTI Emirates, 20th Century Fox TV, and Granada
TV, to mention just a few. Iskander told TBS that a global perspective is needed
to increase sales of Egyptian programming such as the National Geographic TV shows
on Egyptian archeology.
New pan-Arab satellite
TV channels like MBC English entertainment Channel 2 in Bahrain are looking for
youth-oriented Hollywood programs and movies for the Arab market, according to
Channel 2 chief Tim Riordan, who said in an interview that "there is a new market
in the Arab region for English programming geared for an Arab audience."
The universally common
factor is music, as reflected by Egypt TV's growing music channels, from the music
star searches to music videos on music channels Melody Hits, Mazzika, and Rotana
(owned by one-time Michael Jackson partner Saudi Prince Al Waleed Ibn Talal).
"Our strategy is to produce
new entertainment programs to diversify," said Frederic Giccardo, Founoon Distribution's
president, running Mazzika. "At the next Mipcom we will seek European music shows
to give our channel a fresh look and accelerate the launch of Mazzika 2."
The global reach of the
new channels interfaces with Egypt TV's vision, according to Maha Darwish, who
said Egypt TV will increase its news and music programming. This vision extends
the continuing transnational broadcasting orientation of the region. TBS
Janet Fine is a TBS