Regional TV producers air their prospects in Dubai industry event

Industry executives gathered at the Big Entertainment Show in Dubai yesterday hope to develop Arabic content regionally, break even on sales of children's programmes.

The Abu Dhabi Media booth at The Big Entertainment Show. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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Regional TV content producers are hoping to break even on sales of children’s programmes in a tough market that offers no guarantee of big profits.

Industry executives, gathered at the Big Entertainment Show in Dubai yesterday, discussed their prospects.

“I seriously would hope for 100 per cent return on investment, if not more, and it is not an unrealistic assessment from all the avenues of channelling the production such as broadcast, licensing the merchandise or publishing” said Ghassan Ayoubi, the executive director of Arabian Gulf operations at Rubicon, a Jordan-based educational entertainment TV producer.

Regional networks were very interested in Arabic content developed regionally, he said. “They are seemingly trying to move from mass forgettable cartoons. His company is about to launch “The Little Explorer”, a children’s TV character.

Mariam Al Afridi, the marketing and corporate communications director at Dubai Media Incorporated, said: “All of our channels make good returns. Whether they are imported shows or home-grown shows, we increase profit on an annual basis.

“Our distribution arm is very strong because the local product is so unique and we have exclusivity to distribute it to broadcasters in the Mena region and pay-TV services. Our sales and distribution teams are working very aggressively on that part.

“The local content and Turkish content is huge in terms of being able to resell and distribute and we are increasing local production because of that. We believe in local production all the way.”

While some are finding local content a money-spinner, other independent animation houses are finding it hard convincing television executives of their products’ potential.

“Regarding animation, it is not that easy, people are not into that industry within our region, they think it’s for kids and unimportant” said Shady Jarrar, the community manager at the Abu Dhabi-based Alter Ego.

“We have been producing the first Arabic animation of its kind, Japanese animation but Arabic production 100 per cent. The problem with self-produced cartoons is animation is expensive.

“It costs a couple of hundred thousand dollars just to produce an episode.”