ADMC ready to kick off EPL channel

High-definition broadcast will include lots of discussion programmes and access to guests such as managers and players of top clubs.

A 24-hour channel by Abu Dhabi Media Company will allow English Premier League fans in the Middle East to follow live action.
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Abu Dhabi Media Company will offer a newly launched 24-hour English Premier League channel as part of its EPL subscription package this summer. The English-language channel will be broadcast in high-definition from London and feature news, studio discussions, programmes and classic matches, as well as live coverage of all 380 league matches. It will be produced by the EPL's production team.

"It means that in addition to the excellent Arabic coverage that we've got planned, with a heavy focus on the pitches in the UK, we will also have great quality English coverage, which will not only be restricted to the games themselves but also brings with it a lot of discussions programmes, and access to guests such as managers and players that might be difficult for us to get," said Karim Sarkis, the executive director of broadcast at ADMC.

"It means we end up having a much better product than if we were trying to do this on our own." ADMC, which owns and publishes The National, last year acquired the rights to three seasons of the EPL starting with the 2010-2011 season. The company last month announced its plans to distribute the EPL through three subscription platforms. Beginning in mid-August, EPL games will be shown exclusively on Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya subscription channels - accessed through a high-definition set-top box - internet protocol television and, in a first for the region, streaming on broadband internet.

ADMC plans to air all the EPL games on an array of channels in both English and Arabic, although it has declined to comment on precisely how many channels will be launched as part of its subscription package. "It's a big win for all of our viewers because we are offering greater diversity in our programming, enhanced quality and more viewing choice than ever before," said Mohammed Najeeb, the director of Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya Channels, which is the sports division of Abu Dhabi TV.

"I personally believe the combination of our Arabic Premier League offering with the official Premier League channel will provide viewers in the region with Premier League programming which rivals the programming available anywhere in the world." Mr Sarkis said the possibility of a dedicated EPL channel was part of the tender that ADMC looked at when it was deciding to buy the rights, but at the time its launch depended on enough other regions signing up to carry the feed.

"Obviously they've reached critical mass, that enough licensees wanted to use this channel," he said. Mr Sarkis declined to comment on whether there was an additional charge for carrying it. After the announcement of the launch of Premier League TV in the UK, Reuters reported that the league planned to implement new rules from next season to prevent managers shunning media rights holders and force them to attend post-match news conferences.

The core programming for the EPL channel will be built around the live games throughout the season. The channel will also feature classic matches from the EPL archive, daily football news bulletins and breaking news crawlers enabling viewers watching the channel on Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya to stay up to date with the latest news.