Saudi-owned MBC to introduce Persian channel

The company wants to tap the young populations of Iran and other Farsi-speaking countries



Saudi-owned broadcaster MBC will launch a Farsi television channel on Saturday, according to reports.

The company, which is the Arab world’s largest private broadcaster, is using the channel to access the vast youth markets in Iran, Pakistan and other countries.

It previously launched a Farsi channel nearly a decade ago but pulled it after a focus on subtitled Hollywood films did not prove successful.

Spokesperson Mazen Hayak confirmed the October 6 launch to Arab News.

He said the channel would initially air subtitled and dubbed drama, comedy and reality TV shows, along with Hollywood and Bollywood films.

Original shows are planned for the end of this year or early 2019.

Hayak said the channel’s major target audience would be the young population in Iran but it could eventually be made available to Farsi speakers in other countries like the US.

It will compete with other Farsi channels broadcasting into the country and has no plans for a physical presence in Iran.

Dubai-based MBC hopes its experience in producing content will give it an edge in the competitive market.

“We hope that the success of the channel viewership-wise, ratings wise, will lead to subsequent commercial success,” he was quoted as saying.

MBC Group chairman Waleed al-Ibrahim was among the Saudi businessman detained under the kingdom’s corruption probe last year. He was reported to have given a controlling stake in the firm to the government in exchange for his freedom.

Read: MBC chairman allowed to travel to Dubai after Saudi detention

The launch of the channel, which will initially be available via Yahsat, comes at a time of heightened regional tensions.

MBC said in March that it and other broadcasters had been ordered to stop airing Turkish television programmes after Ankara emerged as an ally to Qatar in a regional rift that began in June 2017.

Read: Saudi-owned broadcaster MBC to stop airing Turkish dramas