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Saudi media group Rotana merges with Lebanon’s LBCSAT TV

BBC Monitoring

Text of press release by Riyadh-based media group Rotana on 8 August

Riyadh, 8 August: In a move that signals the onset of large scale media consolidation in the region the Arab television networks LBCSAT and Rotana have joined forces by merging to form a new Middle East media powerhouse.

While the two entities will remain organizationally and financially independent they will work closely to create an integrated platform of channels that promises to provide viewers in the words of LBC founder, Chairman and CEO Sheikh Pierre El Daher, "with more choice more variety and more quality".

Under the agreement, El Daher will oversee the Rotana channels which include Rotana Clip, Rotan Music, Rotana Khaleejah, Rotana Tarab, Rotana cinema and Rotana Zaman as well as the LBCSAT channel.

"Stand alone channels are becoming a thing of the past," said El Daher. "The free to air arena is becoming more crowded and more competitive. Consolidation is the best way to confront these challenges and to take media in the Arab world to exciting new level. I would like to recognize His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin TalalPrince Alwaleed Bin Talal for his vision in promoting Arabic music and film and to thank him for his role in bringing this partnership about."

Alwaleed who owns Rotana and is a major shareholder in LBCSAT, said, "I have absolute confidence in the abilities of Pierre El Daher to help usher in a new age of Arab media. Pierre is rightfully among the most respected figure in regional TV. Over the last two decades with limited resources he has built LBC into a leader in Middle East media. He has done this through a combination of courage, creativity, and sheer determination. I look forward to witnessing his further accomplishments as head of this dynamic new media platforms."

LBC, Lebanon's first private TV station, started out in 1985 as a single channel operating with a handful of staffers in Beirut. Today it is multi channel network with hundreds of employees across the region. Rotana launched as a record company in 1987 has become the world's leading producer and distributor of Arabic music and film with seven channels dedicated to Arabic entertainment.

As well as pooling these resources and combini! ng the two network's brand value said El Daher, the new media house wi ll be open to the inclusion of other partners in the future. "The possibilities are limitless." he said. "We feel that this partnership will evolve into a brand that viewers trust to bring them the best in programming and that advertisers will turn to for its each and credibility. Prince Alwaleed few months ago acquired over 25 per cent of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, Saudi Research and Marketing Group through Kingdom Holding.

Alwadeed meanwhile said that the partnership between LBCSAT and Rotana marks an important moment in the cultural and social development of the Middle East. "Pierre and I share the same vision and the drive to elevate the Arab world in the global community," he said. "A vibrant media scene is an important part of this goal and so our deal with LBCSAT is a step in the right direction. We are confident that the new group will bring significant value to the public while allowing the two entities to operate more efficiently."

Added El! Daher: "In today's media landscape only groups able to offer a comprehensive package of targeted channels to advertising markets is expected to grow two to three fold over the next five years and we intend to be a part of this growth."

He concluded: "There is an immense pool of talent and creative energy out there waiting for the right opportunity. The new platforms of channels will be actively looking to form partnerships with entrepreneurs in the world of TV production in order to bring the best content to viewers form the Gulf to the Maghreb."

Source: Rotana press release, Riyadh, in English 10 Aug 07


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