MTV, Arab Media to launch Nickelodeon Arabia


LONDON -- MTV Networks International and Arab Media Group , the largest media group in the United Arab Emirates, are joining forces to launch Nickelodeon Arabia, the parties said Tuesday.

The pact sees the launch of a localized, Arabic language free-to-air channel dedicated exclusively to children across the Middle East.

Through the deal, the companies claim that Nickelodeon is the first global kids' media brand to create a free-to-air Arabic service across the region with local cultural values taken into account. AMG's TV broadcasting arm also incorporates the soon-to-launch MTV Arabia.

The 24-hour Nick channel, slated to launch in 2008, will broadcast via satellite to 36 million TV households, with a potential audience of 190 million people across the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, the parties said.

Programming will include some Nickelodeon shows and original local Arabic productions.

MTVNI managing director and senior vp, emerging markets Bhavneet Singh said: "The launch of Nickelodeon Arabia is a part of our wider, ongoing multiplatform strategy encompassing consumer products, digital media, hotels and theme parks, which we hope will establish Nickelodeon as the premier destination for kids in the region."

MTV Networks vice chairman Bill Roedy described the launch as "a significant milestone in our (MTV) history."

Added Roedy: "The Middle East is a dynamic, thriving market with vast growth opportunities, and we look forward to launching even more MTVNI brands and businesses through our successful partnerships with AMG and TECOM Investments."

Arab Media Group CEO Abdullatif Al Sayegh said there was a niche in the region for "quality children's programming."

Said Sayegh: "Nickelodeon will provide the best in world-standard entertainment for children, raising standards in the region and setting a strong precedent for the future."

The partnership between AMG and MTVNI Emerging Markets signals the next step in establishing a multibrand, multiplatform MTVNI portfolio across the Middle East.

MTV Arabia is set to launch next month in partnership with AMG.

The launch of Nickelodeon Arabia follows the recent pact between Al Ahli Group and Nickelodeon to ink a long-term partnership that will add Nickelodeon and properties such as "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Dora the Explorer" and "Diego," to the Al Ahli Park development in Dubai.