This article was published on February 25, 2010

The end of free Arabic entertainment?

The end of free Arabic entertainment?
Ahmad F Al-Shagra
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Ahmad F Al-Shagra

Co-founder of, Ex-Editor of The Next Web ME, trainer, blogger, and programmer. Co-founder of, Ex-Editor of The Next Web ME, trainer, blogger, and programmer.

20th Century FoxAs a Middle Easterner I tend to normally accept some of the realities of the environment I live in, some of which are; a lower level of resources for self development, education, and mature business and market standards. But one thing that brings me utter happiness, is the availability of free stuff. Be it satellite channels with the latest season of my favorite sitcom, or simply music videos that don’t require a cable subscription.

That also applies to the online media industry in the region, which makes the recent News Corp purchase of stake in Rotana Media Services such a big deal if you realize that News Corp’s CEO Rupert Murdoch set a shock-wave through the electronic content industry when he announced his group’s plans on charging for content not so long ago.

To those of you who aren’t familiar with News Corporation, they own networks and publications of the magnitude of 20th Century Fox, The Times, The Wall Street Journal to name a few.

Now I don’t mean to start a scare campaign, but lets consider some facts here:

  • Prince Al-Waleed bil Talal owns 7% in News Corporation.
  • Rupert Murdoch own 9% in Rotana (to increase to 18.18%)
  • News Corporation is the world’s second largest media conglomerate
  • Rotana is possibly one of the regions largest media providers

Don’t get me wrong I’ve said it time and again, I think its good some global players enter the regional media industry, but after looking at these facts, and the other element in this equation, which is that News Corporation is the proud owner of Fox News (an out-spoken US neoconservative news network) I start wondering, will this be the beginning of a new darker era in online electronic content as well as traditional media provided by these corporations?

Is Rupert Murdoch going to start charging us for Rotana’s content, or are we going to have to live with the fact that as long as we get it for free, we have to accept whatever the neoconservative media block has to dish out? I guess time will tell.

via Al-Akhbar

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