x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

CNN Abu Dhabi goes live

CNN will begin broadcasting from its fourth global newsgathering hub in Abu Dhabi today with the debut of Prism, a weekday news programme.

ABU DHABI // CNN unveiled Abu Dhabi as its fourth global news hub yesterday with the debut Prism, a new weekday prime time programme focused on the Middle East. The launch of the newsgathering operation in Abu Dhabi's media zone, twofour54, was accompanied by the establishment of an advertising sales office in the capital. "I think the UAE in many ways is going to be one of those territories that has a pivotal role to play in international news coverage going forward," said Tony Maddox, the executive vice president and managing director of CNN International. "I think the rate of growth here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and across the Emirates, is quite remarkable. I think you are seeing very much an emerging world player here. The Grand Prix last weekend felt to me like a coming out party." Stories from CNN's bureaux from Kabul to Cairo will be supported from the Abu Dhabi hub, which will also become the home of CNN International's existing regional shows, Inside the Middle East and Marketplace Middle East. Prism will broadcast from 9 to 9:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. "As the news is breaking, we will be able to take you there as it happens to get on the ground reporting," said Stan Gant, the anchor of the show. "There will be a specific focus on news and issues from this region." CNN announced its intentions to make Abu Dhabi one of its global hubs last autumn, at the launch of twofour54. CNN also has an office in Dubai Media City, where it runs its Arabic website. Mr Maddox said Abu Dhabi's central location, ability to build a state-of-the-art facility from the ground up, and support from local entities such as twofour54 contributed to CNN's decision to open the hub in the capital. He added that the company was "paying our own way" in Abu Dhabi, and that he had worked to justify the significant expenditure to the company's executives in Atlanta often during a difficult year for media. Tom Fenton, CNN's managing editor for the Middle East, brushed aside concerns about the UAE's freedom of the press raised during yesterday's announcement at Emirates Palace, saying that CNN operated many places with tighter press restrictions than the UAE's. "We will operate here the way we operate any of our operations," he said. "I don't see any difference between being here and being in London. As a news network, people need to trust you. Without their trust, you have nothing else to fall back on. We will never bring our standards down, wherever we are." Rani Raad, CNN's senior vice president of business affairs for the region, said the opening of the five-person sale office in Abu Dhabi was meant to supplement the ad sales capacity of CNN's regional partner, Media International Services in Dubai. "We believe this will make us understand the region even better, and deliver to the region a service that is more in line with what they've been looking for," Mr Raad said. The strategy is already bearing some fruit. Two weeks ago, Mubadala signed on as the sponsor of another CNN programme, Revealed, he said. They join major regional advertisers such as Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Dubai International Financial Center, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Qatar Financial Center. @Email:khagey@thenational.ae