Sky News Arabia’s newsroom during the first live broadcast of the 24-hour Arabic channel in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi Sky News Arabia, Abu Dhabi's first international TV channel, on Sunday launched its new platform, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (ADMIC) and BSkyB, the UK's leading pay television provider.

Amidst expectations that tough competition will arise in the coming years due to the great influence of the media, launching Sky News Arabia from the Abu Dhabi aims to focus on content-based news and coverage that satisfies the viewers.

"The introduction of our broadcasting will build on our early leadership in multi-platform distribution. It will allow us to make our expertise and investment in content and technology work even harder, extending our options for continued growth," Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia, told Gulf News.

"Viewers in the Middle East seek a new way of coverage and through our satellite platform this will be a new way for us to reach out to consumers who love great content," said Bouran.

"SkyNews Arabia will be targeting 90 million youth in the Middle East who are potential viewers of our programmes and our audience will see that we are different," he added.

Three platforms

"Interactivity across three platforms: television, internet including social media platforms and mobiles will help increase the number of our audience in the near future.

"Yet the main challenge is to proceed ahead amidst tough competition from other competitors," Bouran said.

He said that the channel will be "objective, neutral with no political or partisan agendas." "The audience will notice that we are different from others through our coverage which is not biased and is based on correspondents' coverage of events."

Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman of ADMIC and Sky News Arabia, said: "Sky News Arabia will offer its audience must-view content from breaking stories to sport, from business to entertainment and objective and impartial news delivery."

Al Jaber added that the channel is supported by an editorial advisory committee, a first for the region, to ensure Sky News Arabia delivers balanced, accurate and consistent news.

Vibrant culture

"The channel protechnological developments horizon in the way it delivers news across multiple platforms. The region demanded an Arab news product which incorporates both the technological developments and the fast changing media consumption habits that are transforming how news is gathered and disseminated," he said.

Al Jaber added: "With the vibrant cultural movement in the UAE, Abu Dhabi is attractive for an organisation like Sky News Arabia to objectively disseminate news in the Arab world."

Some media anchormen told Gulf News that Sky News Arabia has to compete with Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera which have gained credentials globally and in the Middle East in particular.

Same slogans

Laura Streder, editor at the European Times, told Gulf News: "In the past when Al Arabiya came on the scene it raised the same slogans that they will be number one to compete with Al Jazeera and when Al Jazeera had risen, it prided itself with objectivity and popularity amongst the young people as it addressed their issues and concerns."

"Every newcomer to the market would say that just for ‘local consumption' to show that they will be distinguished and highly professional in their coverage and programmes," Streder said.

Of the established networks, Al Jazeera can go close to matching it for reach and probably has far deeper pockets, as well as a proven track record.

But Sky News Arabia is confident that its content - and features such as high definition and an iPad app - will make inroads into Al Jazeera's audience, which covers a vast swath of the Sunni Arab world.

Abdul Rahman Awad, Abu Dhabi Radio Director, told Gulf News: "There is a new approach in the region to turn to Arabic channels to address the audience. This explains why many international foreign channels had their headquarters in the region to broadcast in Arabic."