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Fox moves MENA channels to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s government-backed media initiative Twofour54 has signed up a major News Corp division, including channel operations and a documentary production arm, to set up shop in the Gulf state.

Fox International Channels (FIC) has formed a strategic partnership with Twofour54 under which FIC will move the playout and operations of some of its channels that are available in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region from Hong Kong and other locations to a facility in Abu Dhabi.

FIC didn’t specify which or how many of its channels would relocate to Abu Dhabi but the company operates several in the region. These include free-TV services National Geographic Abu Dhabi Channel, launched in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media Company in July 2009, as well as the Fox Movies and Fox Series channels, which both launched in 2008 in partnership with News Corp-backed Rotana Media Services. FIC also operates nine pay-TV channels in the region.

The FIC/Twofour54 deal will also see FIC-owned New Zealand production house NHNZ establishing a production office in Abu Dhabi, where it will make a high-end HD and 3D documentary. The NHNZ production office will offer training to help develop Arab talent and production infrastructure, and will also develop projects with local producers for international broadcast.

Furthermore, FIC is headquartering the Middle East operations of its global online ad network business, .Fox, in Abu Dhabi. The company is already the second largest online media provider in the UAE and third largest in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The world’s media industry is increasingly focusing on the MENA region,” said Twofour54 CEO Tony Orsten. “This announcement reinforces our vision, which is to establish Abu Dhabi as a regional centre of excellence for the Arabic media industry, and adds to the media ecosystem we have created.”

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