Market Reporting On-air Now:
Business TV Comes of Age in the Middle East
By Tara Joseph
the port of Doha, and updates on Kuwaiti stocks.
equate news from the Middle East with pictures of mass rallies,
war, and burning U.S. flags.But now a plethora of Middle East
related business news programs are sprouting up across the globe
in a bid to substitute war for commerce. Globalization, technical
innovation in the form of satellite and digital TV, and a rise
in global capital flows are the driving forces. If company transparency
improves and the region's stock markets grow in size, then the
ventures could ultimately prove successful.
in the region has done the reverse of taking people's minds
away from business. It has made everyone aware that there is
a lot more going on," said Neil Heathcote, Editor of the
BBC's World Business Report.
the 24/7 global TV service of the British Broadcasting Corporation
in January launched a weekly program called "Middle East
Business Report" with a mission to cover the entire region.
March the show was hosted from Doha, but it also conducted an
interview with a Lebanese official on mobile phone privatization
and carried packages on a manufacturing business in Dubai.
broadcasters the stories provide some relief from the barrage
of Middle East headlines, which often pit Islamic values against
western values and stain the picture of globalization.
a franchise with links to its namesake in the US, last year
launched a 24-hour TV station dedicated to business broadcasting
associated in the Middle East with American culture, has recently
launched a new program called "Inside the Middle East,"
focusing on economic and social affairs of the region.
was a niche. We're finding demand out there," said Zafar
Siddiqi, CEO of CNBC Arabiya.
the day CNBC is aimed at trading floors in banks and brokerages.
In the evening the station is targeted at high net worth individuals
or middle managers in their homes.
said satellite penetration in the region has reached over 9.5
million people, providing a solid advertising base to make stations
like CNBC Arabiya profitable.
1990 satellite TV was unheard of. After the Gulf War you have
had a multitude of satellite channels launching both state broadcasting
and private stations," Sidiqqi said.
video is also a complement to the multimedia revolution which
allows investors to view stock prices and financial news via
the Internet 24-hours a day.
connections providing fast and easy access, the coming trends
may prove to be a combination of video clips accompanied by
financial data and print stories.
for example, is building video clips into its website so that
investors can read, watch, and listen to global events simultaneously.
development of broadband networks, mobile phone applications,
and digital TV will increase the amount of content and customization
to every consumer," said John Mastrini, Editor for Reuters
Business TV based in London.
business news thrive in a wholly different economic landscape
where wealth is primarily in family controlled firms rather
than in publicly traded companies?
East stock markets remain small compared with their global peers.
The daily amount of dollars changing hands on Saudi Arabia's
stock exchange, the region's largest, is a small fraction of
the ten of billions of dollars in stocks traded daily on the
New York Stock Exchange.
the development of free trade zones and a rise in privatizations,
the Middle East's economic prowess is also heavily skewed towards
oil and oil money.
of company data and access to decisions makers for the TV cameras
are major issues which can make or break a constant flow of
eye grabbing news.
it doesn't really matter.
of business may provide a feel-good-factor in a region where
political news is often rife with bad news and where widespread
distrust of the West has increased since September 2001.
news is very safe subject to hammer for home audiences. You
certainly cannot fill airtime with political or social insight
pieces and economics is neutral," said a Cairo-based journalist.
US some people talk of financial news as a form of eye-candy,
providing weary professionals with flashy graphics and busy
screen formats in a staid office environment.
TV hubs such as the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ in
Times Square New York have become global symbols of the money
circus, with well-coiffed reporters talking about stock movements
around the clock in a multitude of languages.
the zeal for financial news has dissipated in the US and Europe
since corporate scandals such as Enron and Parmalat broke public
trust in publicly-listed companies. More significantly, many
investors lost their shirts after investing in fast rising Internet
companies in the 1990's dot.com boom.
business news interest in the Middle East however are signs
of a repatriation of money back to the region after the September
11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
handling Arab money say fear of prejudice and greater US scrutiny
of Arab funds may have prompted the transfer. But rising oil
prices and stock markets could also be contributing factors.
VISUALS - FRESH STORIES
visuals and fresh stories, however, provide a welcome relief
for international broadcasters who need to fill 24 hours of
programming 7 days a week.
stories in the Middle East have never been reported.
Europe everyone has been through media training school and you
can end up with a very standard way of relating to the media,"
said BBC's Heathcote. TBS
is a Reuters correspondent based in Hong Kong.