Fox International Channels (‘FIC’) and Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 announce strategic collaboration on three major projects

08 Mar 2010

Fox International Channels, a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corporation, announced on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit that it has formed a strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 across three significant projects.

  • FIC’s global online advertising network business, .FOX, will headquarter its Middle East operations in Abu Dhabi and in co-operation with twofour54.
  • NHNZ, a division of FIC and one of the world’s leading documentary filmmaking companies, will establish a production office in Abu Dhabi in co-operation with twofour54.
  • FIC will move operations for some of its Middle East targeted satellite channels from Hong Kong and other locations to a new centralized location at the twofour54 broadcasting facility in Abu Dhabi.

Fox International Channels (‘FIC’), a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corporation, announced on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit that it has formed a strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 across three significant projects.  The move highlights FIC’s commitment to Abu Dhabi as well as reinforcing twofour54’s commitment to position Abu Dhabi as a regional centre of excellence in content creation.

The three collaboration projects are as follows:

FIC is headquartering the Middle East operations of its global online ad network business, .FOX (pronounced dot-fox), in Abu Dhabi in co-operation with twofour54.  With its global footprint, .FOX is already the 2nd largest online media provider in the United Arab Emirates (with a network that reaches more than 50% of all online users in the territory each month) and the 3rd largest in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  From the new regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi, .FOX will look to rapidly enter into representation agreements with local sites in the region to further expand the reach and relevance of its network.  In addition, .FOX will build a sales organization focused on selling local and global online solutions to clients across the region. .FOX has more than 20 offices around the world and over 150 employees and is present in every important market in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia The network specializes in online video, display, performance and branded advertising solutions.

Secondly, FIC (through its documentary production arm NHNZ) and twofour54 are also collaborating on the production of a high end HD and 3D documentary, which will be available for broadcast television, cinema and museums.

NHNZ will set up a production office in Abu Dhabi, from where it will manage Middle East specific productions, with an emphasis on building up the 3D production capabilities and expertise. The NHNZ production office will offer skill training and workshops to help develop Arab talent and production infrastructure.  It will also look to develop projects with local producers for international broadcast.

NHNZ, which is based in New Zealand with offices in Washington DC, Brisbane, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Johannesburg, produces some of the most popular non-fiction programming in the World which it supplies to the leading broadcasters such as A&E, Discovery, National Geographic and Fox. The setting up of the NHNZ office in Abu Dhabi follows the launch of National Geographic Abu Dhabi, a dedicated factual entertainment free to air channel for the region, with the entire programming dubbed in Arabic. This reiterates the commitment from National Geographic to bring world class factual entertainment programming to the region.

Lastly, FIC and twofour54 have reached an agreement whereby FIC will move the playout and operations of some of its channels available in the Middle East from Hong Kong and other locations to a new centralized facility in Abu Dhabi operated by twofour54.  These facilities are fully HD capable, based on tapeless workflows and represent the current state of the art in channel operations.

FIC’s free to air satellite channels in the region include the National Geographic Abu Dhabi Channel, that was launched in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) in July 2009 and is fully dubbed in Arabic as well as Fox Movies (launched May 2008) and Fox Series (launched December 2008) channels launched in partnership with Rotana Media Services.  FIC also operates nine pay-TV channels in the region including National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Adventure, National Geographic Channel HD, Star Movies, Star World, Baby TV, Channel V, and Fox Sports as well as representing the Fox News and Sky News channels in the region.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi about the strategic partnership, David Haslingden, CEO of Fox International Channels, said: ‘This inaugural Abu Dhabi Media Summit is the ideal forum for us to announce this exciting collaboration between FIC and twofour54, and to underline the important role that such strategic alliances have in the development of the enormous potential of the region’s media sector’.

Mr Ward Platt, President of Fox International Channels, Asia Pacific and Middle East also in Abu Dhabi for the announcements said: ‘twofour54 has established itself at the forefront of the region’s leading providers of media and entertainment services and it is actively helping to establish Abu Dhabi as a regional media hub. We are thrilled to have partnered with such an impressive home-grown regional media player. As we seek to play our part in the ongoing development of the UAE’s capital as a media centre for the Middle East our relationship with twofour54 will be a fundamental advantage.’

Speaking on behalf of twofour54, CEO Tony Orsten added, ‘The world’s media industry is increasingly focusing on the MENA region. 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. We are excited about partnering with FIC in their efforts to build their globally admired brands, launch innovative media solutions and enhance the level of factual content production within the region.’

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