x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Jamming on the air all the way from Fujairah

The Fujairah Media Group (FMG) plans to launch a rock music station in the UAE, and says it plans to boost its radio investments further by acquiring two international broadcasters.

The Fujairah Media Group (FMG) plans to launch a rock music station in the UAE and says it will boost its radio investments further by acquiring two international broadcasters.

Bands such as Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac will be regulars on the playlist of the station, Rock 909, which is transmitting test broadcasts on 90.9FM in the UAE.

FMG, which is part-owned by the Government, plans to launch in the middle of next month.

Mekki Abdulla, the chief executive of FMG, acknowledged that the radio advertising market was "pretty flat" this year - but said his company had better hopes for next year.

"We thought we'd launch [Rock 909] now ready for next year. Our indication is that hopefully radio should do better," Mr Abdulla said. "I think it will come back to about where it was in 2008."

He said Rock 909 would complement FMG's other radio stations, which include Arabic and religious broadcasts.

The station will be funded by advertising, he said.

"There's an opportunity in that particular genre," Mr Abdulla said. "We've found that a lot of [advertisers] want more choice when we're network-selling. They want us to have an English station within our mix."

The YouNique Media Group, based in Fujairah, will supply the programming for Rock 909.

"The main studios will be in Fujairah," said Steve Johnston, director at YouNique, who will also be a presenter on the new station.

Mr Johnston said the station began test broadcasts this month. "The transmitter is on the highest mountain in Fujairah," he said.

He added that the station would play rock music in its broadest sense.

"We're not in competition with anyone else," he said. "It's about time in this part of the world that radio stations provided services for everybody, rather than trying to fight against each other. We're going to try to provide the alternative."

The Fujairah Radio Network, part of FMG, last year acquired a 50 per cent stake in the European radio station JazzRadio Berlin, for a reported €2.5 million (Dh12.6m).

"We have two new networks internationally which we've acquired, which we're just finalising - one in the Far East and one in Europe," Mr Abdulla said. "We've taken one completely over, and one we've bought into."

FMG's other operations include broadcast facilities in the republic of South Sudan. "We've finished building the TV and radio stations in the South of Sudan for the government there," Mr Abdulla said.

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae