News Corp., Saudi Prince To Launch Satellite Channels

0314princelaweed.jpgA few years ago, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal obtained a 5 percent stake in News Corporation. It appears both sides knew what they were doing: Prince Al-Waleed’s collaboration with News Corporation is leading to lucrative business deals for both parties.

In short: News Corporation is teaming up with Prince Al-Waleed’s Rotana company to launch two English-language television channels in the Arabic-speaking Middle East. The two channels are:

  • Fox Movies — a film channel specializing primarily in American films.
  • An as-of-yet unnamed channel devoted entirely to dramatic films.
  • Both channels will primarily air films that were originally produced by Fox. They’ll be aired (of course) by satellite, with a tentative May launch date for Fox Movies and a November launch date for the second channel.

    Rotana, which launched its television network in 2003, is primarily involved in the music industry. Their site is the closest analogue to the iTunes store in the Arab-speaking world and Rotana has an impressive 85% market share in the Arabic music industry.

    But Al-Waleed, who ranked #19 on Forbes‘ list of the world’s billionares, has attempted to interfere in News Corp.’s reporting in the past. In December 2005, he publicly boasted of influencing coverage of the Paris Banlieu riots. Al-Waleed, in a public interview, mentioned that he personally asked Rupert Murdoch not to use the term “Muslim” to describe the primarily North African, Arab and West African-descended protesters. In addition, Al-Waleed has made public statements blaming US foreign policy for the tragedies of September 11th.

    (Image of Al-Waleed via Rotana)