The seventh Cairo Arab Market for Radio and Television (CAMAR TV 2001), held in the Media Production City located in the desert outskirts of Cairo from July 3-8, was marked by an increase of activity by TV channels seeking to expand in the region and an attempt for many of the programmers to globalize their content to reach outside the Arab market. CAMAR TV concurrently held the seventh Cairo Festival for Radio and TV with jury prizes for best films, TV series, and radio programs in addition to its fifth Cairo Exhibition for Radio and TV Equipment.
"As CAMAR TV enters its seventh year, it continues to be a major link in the Middle East region to bring together key television professionals to one of the most important gatherings in the Arab world," said CAMAR TV organizer Zeinab Ezzat, recently retired vice-president of the Egyptian Radio and TV Union (ERTU). "In the past, ERTU closed millions of dollars of deals at the Market, and this year we had more than 200 participants including more American and European participation. We hope that programmers will consider joining the bouquet of Nilesat 101 and 102. By holding the event in Media City, we highlighted the global possibilities of the studio facilities."
"There is a TV Market in Tunisia in October and other Arab TV markets held, but we remain the place where more deals are transacted-as the oldest in the region, everyone comes to CAMAR TV to meet old friends and make new contacts. We do see an increasing globalization of content and had a major seminar, 'Arabian Drama within the Globalization Era.'"
Zeinab Ezzat was one of the many female TV executives in Egyptian TV; Dorya Sharaf Al Din is the president of the Satellite Channels, and Nagwa Abou Al Naga is the chief executive of the Nile Thematic Channels. Egypt's first woman's channel, Nefertiti Channel, which was launched about eight months ago and is headed by well-known TV anchor Fatma Fouad, acknowledges the growing number of female TV viewers in Egypt.
CAMAR statistics, according to the president of the festival and chairman of ERTU Hassan Hamed, included 75 participants with 155 booths, along with 21 companies and 17 organizations without booths from 14 countries, 84 private and government Arab organizations, and 26 foreign companies who participated at the week-long market. Though it was a gamble to bring everyone into the desert (20 minutes from the city), buses shuttled delegates to Media City's 16-studio production complex, amusement park and newly built Movenpick Hotel, billed as the "Hollywood of the East."
More than 225 TV works from Egypt and various Arab countries were screened, with various awards given, with Kuwait Radio and TV this year's big winner, and actors and actresses from the Middle East region collected prizes for their TV and film work. Syria won the first time Jerusalem Competition with a documentary on the city's Arab identity.
"CAMAR is a good place to meet old clients and find new ones in this Middle East region," said Carl Wiebbe, who came from Los Angeles to Cairo in 1986 to start Arascope Films, an animation and education TV production and TV Distribution Company.
After years of staying insular, many of the Middle East TV channels like Bahrain, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia told TBS they plan to attend more international TV markets like MIP TV. Some of the programs they said they hope to sell focus on political issues, historical and religious series, and global TV series like "Cavalier Nights" produced by Dubai TV. French TV 5 and Canal Plus had representatives along with president of the French Rendezvous 2001 held in St. Tropez in September, to attract more Arab participation.
Magdi Ghoneim, marketing director for the Middle East and North Africa of TV 5 and TBS Paris correspondent, said that that TV 5 in the Middle East would include more Arabic content, just as they had combined French and Egyptian programming in a 24-hour telecast, "The French Love Cairo" simultaneous broadcast on Nile TV and French TV in June.
"The government is opening up television and we are witnessing a new era in Qatar for new television programming," said Ali Al Quitar, president of the Qatar Radio and TV Corporation. "There is a movement for globalization and this is good for the region. We are buying more programs and we will be producing more to start selling."