Fremantle inks Middle East Broadcasting deal

Agreement covers Season 8 of 'American Idol'

LAS VEGAS -- FremantleMedia, the international distributor of "American Idol" and hundreds of variety and reality formats, has inked a sizable deal at NATPE with the multichannel Pan-Arabic satcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center for 150 hours of programming.

The deal includes the eighth season of "Idol," which will now be seen by 20-odd million viewers covered by the operator's footprint.

In addition, MBC scooped up factual docs including "Black Gold," about the oil business, "America's Toughest Jobs" and "Verminators."

Also in the package are shows from the U.K., Germany and Australia, countries where Fremantle has major production facilities, and include the mini "Merlin" and the Aussie crime drama "The Strip."

MBC channel manager Jemma Yates said the acquisition of "Idol" means that "for the first time our viewers will be able to see it in the same week as the U.S., free and exclusive."

No details as to the price tag on the deal were available.