Arab Businessmen Target Iraqi Audience with a New News Channel

By Rasha El-Ibiary

  Boutros Khoury and Rasha

The interview with Mr. Botros El Khoury on which this article is based took place in Hammersmith, London, on March 31, 2004.

With the single goal of conquering the Iraqi market, Arabic News Broadcast, or ANB will be launched by June 1, 2004, as the newest Arabic-language news channel, if the plans of a group of businessmen from different parts of the Arab World come to fruition.

According to Botros El Khoury, General Manager of ANB, the channel will mainly target the Iraqi audience, as well as the wider Arab world. "Iraq is the currently the new market, and our aim is to explore this new market," he says.

El Khoury adds that ANB is financed by a group of businessmen from Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, and Tunisia, and will depend exclusively on advertisements for revenue. It will not be based only in London, but will have centers in all of those countries.

ANB's programming will be entirely in Arabic, except for a daily news bulletin in English, as well as a weekly talk show that will host an English native speaker.

"ANB," says El Khoury, aims to "put the people's point of view in the news, not governments' points of view. We are all of us unpoliticized business people, and we would like to give the news to everybody in this world from the point of view of normal people." ANB's specific mission, he adds, "is to give the news as seen by people, not by governments."

ANB does not claim, however, to be any different from Al Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, or CNBC Arabiya, or even to compete with them. According to El Khoury, "All of us [the Arabic news channels] give the news itself, so we are not going to be different." Concerning the character of ANB, El-Khoury says, "the kind of personality will be different than the others. Every news channel, such as Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, has its own personality." He adds that because ANB is "run by different people, that will create a different image."

The programs shown on ANB will include, says El Khoury, "news bulletins and live programs from all the Arab world. It will cover the Arab world for the Arab and European people," as it will be broadcast to Europe as well as Arab expatriate communities. The main concern of ANB is to cover "the life of people." both "news-wise and business-wise," as El Khoury put it.

He also stressed that many media stars will be reporting and presenting ANB programs, though he refrained from mentioning names. ANB will also depend on part-time stringers, described by El Khoury as "a wide range of reporters" to cover different areas of the Arab world.

ANB is expected to broadcast on both Hotbird and ArabSat, and the channel's logo is currently found on frequency 10949 at Hotbird. TBS

Rasha El Ibiary is a PhD student at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, specialized in Political Communication. Her thesis is entitled Television Coverage of the War on Terror: A Comparative Study of Al-Jazeera and CNN in Covering the US-Led Wars against Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
Copyright 2004 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
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