x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sky Arabia to offer mobile news

Services for mobile phones and tablet devices such as the iPad will be introduced by Sky News Arabia, a senior executive for the news channel to be based in Abu Dhabi has said.

Sky News Arabia, a news channel to be based in Abu Dhabi, will launch services for mobile phones and tablet devices such as the iPad, a senior executive said yesterday.

The Arabic-language TV station will start broadcasting next spring through a venture between the BSkyB of the UK, which operates the Sky News channel, and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (Admic).

John Ryley, the head of Sky News, said the launch would be followed by news services for smartphones and tablet devices.

"We're not just talking about a TV news channel," Mr Ryley said. "We plan to put it online and on mobile applications and tablets - not immediately, but in the months and years to come.

"We aim to offer a new voice for the Arab world - not just through the TV but through different outputs as well."

The new station will be based at the twofour54 media zone in Abu Dhabi, with bureaus around the world.

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Sky News Arabia will be available in standard and high-definition television formats, and will broadcast free to air to more than 50 million households across the Mena region, the channel said yesterday.

Dr Sultan al Jaber, the chairman of Admic and Sky News Arabia, confirmed the channel will launch in the second quarter of next year.

"The ongoing events in the region and the world have proved the necessity to have an Arab-language tool that conveys the news with objectivity as well as clarity," Dr al Jaber said. "We'll provide the news content through the internet and portable devices, in addition to high-definition TV."

James Murdoch, the non-executive chairman of BSkyB and chairman and chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, was at the launch in Abu Dhabi of the station's name and branding yesterday.

Sky News Arabia will enter a TV news market dominated by Al Arabiya, which is part of the Saudi-owned MBC Group, and Al Jazeera, which is backed by Qatar and has recently won plaudits for its coverage of events in Egypt and Tunisia.

Mr Murdoch, who will also jointly open the Abu Dhabi Media Summit this evening with the Hollywood film director James Cameron, said the new channel would "bring a new voice to Arabic viewers".

"For BSkyB this is a significant step, a real milestone for us in one of the world's most dynamic marketplaces," he said.

Mr Ryley said the new channel would be editorially independent. Executives at the station were keen to emphasise that Admic was privately owned and not part of the Abu Dhabi Government.

Mr Ryley said editorial decisions would be left to Nart Bouran, the recently appointed director of news for Sky News Arabia. "The buck, editorially, will stop with him," said Mr Ryley.

"We're not aiming to compete with [existing news channels], we're offering to offer something a bit different: the Sky News way of doing things."

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae