Television

Mashraque to replace Anjuman in Middle East

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Anjuman, the UK-based Reminiscent Television Network's (RTN) Urdu language entertainment channel, is being phased out in the Middle East due to its poor response.

Anjuman will be replaced by a new combi channel, Mashraque, having an equal mix of Urdu and Arabic, that will essentially target expatriates from India and Pakistan who need a working knowledge of the two languages in order to be able to work in the region, along with the local populace.

Mashraque is to be a free to air channel and will be beamed off the Arabsat satellite. The network's Indian affiliate RITV was supplying 30 per cent of the content for Anjuman.

It has also entered a deal with entertainment major Viacom, which will promote RITV's Lashkara and Gurjari channels as part of a pay package 'Asia Plus' in the Middle East and North Africa. The package also includes the Sony channels (Sony Entertainment, MAX, AXN and CNBC India), MTV, 24-hour Hindi news channel Aaj Tak and Malayalam language channel Kairali.

Although channel officials were unable to put a figure on the extent of viewership Mashraque would target, they said the channel's profile would enable it to compete successfully with other government owned channels in the region, like Dubai TV and Saudi TV. The channel is being projected as an entertainment channel with a judicious mix of songs, soaps and comedy. The channel is, however, reluctant to divulge details about where it would be source content.

While Asia Plus will be headquartered at the new Dubai Media City enclave, RITV too is planning to set up its offices there to establish its presence in the region, it is learnt. UK-based RTV which has the cutting edge of offering a group of ethnic channels under one umbrella, owns 20 per cent of RITV.

RITV launched Lashkara and Gurjari in 1998, both 24-hour channels which address the needs of the Punjabi and Gujarati communities respectively. Since their launch, both channels have been telecast in over 30 South Asian contries. Lashkara made its UK launch in May 2000. RTN runs a seven-channel bouquet in the UK.

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