'Top of the Pops' hits Middle East TV screens

LONDON: Music has demonstrated its ability to cut across cultural barriers. Pan-Arab broadcasting group MBC is broadcasting its own version of the UK Top of the Pops show on its new entertainment channel '2'. The show is being beamed across the Middle East and to more than 130 million Arabic speaking people around the world. The broadcast came as a result of an agreement negotiated between MBC and BBC Worldwide, the commercial consumer arm of the BBC.

MBC's celebrity star, Razan is the host of an Arabic version of the UK's number one chart show, which will form a stand-alone slot within her weekly Razmania programme that goes out on Sunday nights. Razan, who regularly graces the front covers of popular magazines in the region and launched her own perfume and cosmetics range, presents the programme from a specially branded Top of the Pops area of her studio in Beirut. In addition, she will make regular trips to the Top of the Pops studio at Television Centre in London to record links and interview features for the show.

In a second phase of the agreement, MBC has also signed a deal to produce its own fully-localised version of Top of the Pops, featuring Arab artists and a specially-established Arab pop chart, from November 2003. MBC will recreate a special Top of the Pops studio locally for the show that will fit in with the brand, whilst also reflecting the individual culture and character of the region.

An official release informs that MBC joins the rapidly growing number of international broadcasters who have their own localised version of Top of the Pops that is filmed in their own recreated studio. RTL in Germany, France 2 in France, BNN in Holland, Jim TV in Belgium and RAI2 in Italy all broadcast fully localised versions of Top of the Pops - beside the 112 countries where the UK version of the show is broadcast. In its 39-year history Top of the Pops has become one of the world's largest music brands, with a fan base of millions across Africa, Australasia, Europe and the Americas.

39 years after Top Of The Pops first hit the screen in the UK it remains the No. 1 Music TV Show. Since the first broadcast in 1964 over 2000 shows have been produced featuring the world's biggest music stars. Based on the Top 40 chart, the show presents a weekly snapshot of what is truly popular in music, always ending with the current number 1. Chris Cowey has produced the show since 1997 during which time his expertise and dedication have developed it into the most respected and quality music show in the UK - by its audience and by the bands that perform on the show.

2 is a brand new channel offering the latest and greatest English language TV and movie hits to the Arab world. Transmitted from Bahrain, it is available free-to-air right across the Middle East and North Africa on Arabsat 3A satellite service plus Bahrain terrestrial network and, as of the end of February, on E-Vision in Dubai. Nightly English language news bulletins are produced for 2 by MBC from their studios in Dubai Media City.

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