MENA and The Magpies
October 20, 2021
As the organisers hope many will gather for the CABSAT 21 expo in Dubai, in the latest issue of Euromedia Chris Forrester offers a reflection on the progress, or otherwise, of TV propositions across the MENA region.
Of course, in many ways, MENA is not a region from which any wider conclusions or pointers can be drawn. In the Gulf the normal rules of supply and demand, or profit and loss, are suspended as sovereign funds compete only in how to out-spend each other. That’s not to say this phenomenon doesn’t have a wider impact beyond the region, it certainly does, in sport in particular: Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain and, now, Newcastle United can all bear witness to the transformative effect of virtually limitless cash. And the World Cup heading for Qatar in 2022 is the ultimate example of the pulling power of money in sport.
These investments, alongside others, including those into satellite systems, are often about trying to diversify away from oil and bring new expertise and industries to the region. Though it must be said that when it comes to sport, there is often also the accusation of ‘sport washing’; an attempt to deflect attention from some of the less cosmopolitan aspects of the region’s regimes.
Away from the Gulf it is the contrast with that area’s wealth that is the main determinant of progress, in the media and much else. That, and ongoing political instability. And, where there is content available but insufficient income to pay for it at an economic price, that leads inevitability to an endemic piracy problem.
Progress for economic and political stability in key areas like Egypt and Libya, and international rehabilitation for Iran. will be pre-requisites for healthy, expanding, media environments.