The channel was one of the first broadcasters in the region to move from terrestrial to satellite transmission in 1996 and was credited with the title Arab Cultural Channel the next year. Image Credit: WAM

Sharjah: Starting transmission over two and a half decades ago with only several shows and 150 employees, Sharjah TV celebrates its numerous milestones as it turns 25 today. The channel currently telecasts 31 programmes and has 468 employees.

Founded by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the foundation for the channel’s construction was laid down in November 18, 1985 and was completed on August 31, 1988.

Appealing to both Sharjah’s local residents and expatriates, Sharjah TV was one of few channels that telecast its programmes in Arabic, English, and Urdu when it officially started its transmission on February 11, 1989. “We currently have 31 programmes, including 16 local programmes, and 15 others broadcast from abroad,” Dr Khalid Al Midfa, Director General of SMC, told Gulf News.

The channel has agreements with foreign TV channels from countries such as Pakistan and Syria for the exchange and broadcast of various productions such as drama as well as cultural programmes. Catering to the interests of multi-national viewers in the UAE, the channel’s top priority remains the focus on the Emirati culture in its local coverage. “We are keen to increase the number of local programmes in the coming period to keep pace with the evolution of the emirate of Sharjah and the increasing number of its events,” explained Al Midfa.

The channel’s evolution

One year after its launch, the channel was awarded for its first achievement after winning first prize for its photography at the fourth Cairo TV and Radio Festival.

“The channel was also among the first broadcasters in the region to move from terrestrial to satellite transmission in 1996, and was credited with the title of the Arab Cultural Channel the year after,” said Al Midfa.

The development of the channel did not stop there. In July 2007, Sharjah TV 2 was launched as a sports, youth, cultural and social channel, followed by Sharjah Sports Channel, which served the sports sector in Sharjah and the UAE. The family of Sharjah channels was soon placed under the umbrella of the Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC) after its establishment through an Emiri decree issued by Dr Shaikh Sultan in 2009. Along with the three Sharjah channels, the Sharjah Radio Station and the Sharjah Media Training Centre also operate under the SMC.

The first TV channel in Sharjah is now home to some of the most popular TV shows among Emiratis.

The live show The ‘Direct Line (Al Khat Al Mubasher in Arabic) launched in 2006, is broadcast simultaneously on Sharjah TV and Radio, becoming the most popular show viewed on the channel. The programme gained immense popularity as a platform for residents of Sharjah to voice their concerns and problems. The show’s host calls up government departments or officials concerned to provide answers to people’s problems.

Dr Shaikh Sultan has been known to regularly follow the show over the years and, from time to time, take a personal interest in addressing pressing issues facing residents.

The programme airs five days a week in the 1.30pm-3.30pm time slot. Other popular shows viewed on the channel include Akhbar Al Dar, a local news show, and Amasi, a programme made up of a mixture of cultural, art and heritage segments and interviews with citizens.

In celebration of the silver jubilee anniversary, the channel also launched its new logo by combining 16 events and landmarks of the emirate and changing the colour of the current logo to silver.