x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

CNN to double length of Prism and boost activity

The channel is doubling the duration of Prism, the daily live news show aired from its production and news-gathering centre in the capital, which opened a year ago.

Tony Maddox, the managing director of CNN.
Tony Maddox, the managing director of CNN.

CNN will increase its activities in Abu Dhabi and is doubling the duration of Prism, the daily live news show aired from its production and news-gathering centre in the capital, which opened a year ago.

Senior figures at the network including Tony Maddox, the executive vice president and managing director of CNN, and Richard Quest, the presenter, are in the UAE capital this week to mark the anniversary of the launch.

Mr Maddox described Abu Dhabi as an "area of investment" for CNN.

"You're going to see us increasingly consolidate our Abu Dhabi headquarters," he said. "This is going to be a powerhouse for us … You might see more staff being moved into there. We've scaled back some of our presence in Baghdad … and moved some of those resources to Abu Dhabi."

Prism, CNN's first daily live news show from the region, complements the network's other shows Inside the Middle East and Marketplace Middle East.

Mr Maddox said the duration of Prism would be extended and that it would feature a new anchor. "We're going to extend the show from a 30-minute show to an hour," he said.

"We're currently in talks with a permanent anchor for the show, which will create a lot of buzz in the region … We'll probably bring more business coverage into the show."

More shows could be made in the Middle East. Quest will this week film his show Quest Means Business in the UAE capital.

CNN recently relaunched its Arabic-language website, with input from a greater network of journalists and additional features such as increased video and social content. But the broadcaster said the launch of a dedicated Arabic-language TV news station was not yet on its agenda.

There are two 24-hour Arabic news stations in development: one owned by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the other by Sky News. They will join a market dominated by Al Jazeera in Qatar and MBC's Al Arabiya channel.

"A 24-hour [Arabic] TV channel is not currently being considered … We don't feel the need to be in a 24-hour news market just because someone else is there," said Mr Maddox.

CNN has a sales team based in Abu Dhabi and its local advertisers and sponsors include the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, and Emirates Airline.

"All our services generate revenue," said Mr Maddox.

bflanagan@thenational.ae