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Former NBCUniversal International president Peter Smith has been named head of MBC Studios, the newly unveiled production banner of Middle East broadcasting giant MBC Group.
The new unit, which joins MBC’s other subsidiaries O3 Productions, AlSadaf and O3 Medya, will be tasked with pushing the company’s drive to produce high-end film and TV drama series that would resonate with audiences across the Middle East and the wider world, helping develop the nascent Saudi industry following the country’s opening up over the past year.
The announcement comes several months after MBC pulled all its Turkish dramas — once a popular presence — from its airwaves, a move that wasn’t formally explained but came as relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia hit a low.
“Content is the fuel that drives the success of both MBC television and Shahid.net, our VOD platform,” said MBC Group CEO Sam Barnett. “Building on the Group’s successes in drama, we are now expanding our ambition and widening our horizons yet further. I am delighted to welcome Peter Smith to MBC Group.”
Added Smith: “The future is certainly positive for MBC Studios especially in terms of leveraging the significant trend for non-English language television content to travel to more global markets.”
Earlier this year, it was widely rumored that MBC — thought to be 60 percent owned by the Saudi government — was being lined up to become the sole distributor of films in the country.
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