View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Monday, October 13, 2008

CNN Opens in Abu Dhabi UAE

CNN reports that CNN International is to start broadcasting live daily news programming from a brand new broadcast facility in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This landmark move signals the global network's significantly expanded on-the-ground commitment to the Middle East and marks CNN's first regularly scheduled daily live show from the region.

The development is part of ongoing plans for CNN's new broadcast and production centre set to open in the Abu Dhabi Media Zone in early 2009. In addition to a daily local-primetime newscast, the new production centre in Abu Dhabi will provide the infrastructure for expanded newsgathering activities in the region. It enhances CNN's existing representation in the region which currently comprises news operations in Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai and Jerusalem, and is part of the company's ongoing newsgathering expansion which over this year has seen more than 50 additional staff and more newsgathering operations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

CNN's Abu Dhabi operation complements its ongoing presence in Dubai and will be a fourth international broadcast centre alongside the existing facilities in London, Hong Kong and Mexico City; and US production centres in Atlanta, Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles.

"Our UAE expansion is one of our boldest editorial undertakings of recent years and one that builds on our existing newsgathering heritage in the region," said Tony Maddox, MD CNN International. "For a global news organisation, the Middle East was the logical choice for an investment of this scale. Our new operation in Abu Dhabi will enable us to continue to meet and exceed the demands of our audiences at a time when many of our competitors are having to retrench."

The expansion cements CNN's desire for a broad presence across the UAE spectrum at a time when the Middle East is making headlines in the political, business and cultural arenas that are having a genuine impact on world affairs.

"With a successful long standing operation in Dubai, the natural next step is to have a base in the capital city," added Maddox. "We have long covered the Middle East region comprehensively on our air and now we will have the on-the-ground infrastructure to serve, support and facilitate that coverage to the next level through these complementary operations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This groundbreaking initiative allows us to put news from the Middle East right at the heart of our output in a proper reflection of the role the region is playing on the world stage, and is a significant plank of our ongoing newsgathering expansion."

In addition to the launch of live daily news programming, CNN will also move the production of its popular Middle East focused feature shows 'Inside the Middle East' and 'Marketplace Middle East' to the UAE.

The new CNN hub will be a custom built news centre overseen by the newly created role of managing editor CNN Abu Dhabi. The operation will house approximately 30 staff including a new CNN International anchor; and programming, production and newsgathering staff who will play a key role in increasing CNN's coverage of the Gulf region and the wider Middle East for all of CNN Worldwide's networks.

The new production centre in Abu Dhabi marks another significant step in CNN's content ownership strategy launched at the end of last year. This has seen the network invest heavily in new news operations around the world as part of its commitment to producing premium news content for its audiences across CNN's many platforms and services around the world.

The Abu Dhabi Media Zone provides premier production and technical support facilities to support the content creation and vocational training aspirations of media companies from around the world.

Reaching for a Higher Profile, Abu Dhabi Opens a Hub for Western Media, NY Times, 12 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound