Abu Dhabi positions itself as international TV hub

Abu Dhabi is to create a media facility to foster content creation in the Arab region called twofour54, named for the geographical coordinates of the UAE city.

twofour54 has signed up a number of audiovisual and print media content partners, including CNN, the BBC, the Thomson Foundation, The Abu Dhabi Media Company, C Sky Pictures, National Geographic and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The initial focus will be on training for the local production industry, with a ‘training academy’, called twofour54 tadreeb, to be established. A separate unit, twofour54 ibtikar, will act as an incubator for local content creation businesses and creative ideas across print, online, mobile and TV platforms in the MENA region.

Two other units, twofour54 intaj and twofour54 tawasol, will proivde production and post-production and other technical facilities, and support for relocation respectively.

CNN plans to develop local production of a live daily newscast from the facility, while the BBC will offer training support for twofour54 tadreeb.

Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNNI, speaking at a press event to mark the launch of the unit, said the facility would be a major centre for the news broadcaster, providing a base for a new daily news show in prime time. He said that twofour54 would complement CNN’s existing bureau in Dubai.

Other partners include the Abu Dhabi Media Company, which will relocate to the new facility, along with its new film production offshot Imagenation, and Arabic production companies Rotana Studions and Kuwait-based C Sky Pictures.

Imagenation has separately announced that it is to team up with National Geographic Entertainment to finance a $100 million slate of films. The films will be budgeted at between $5 million and $60 million.

Wayne Borg, chief operating officer of twofour54, speaking at the same event, said that the group aimed to have production facilities, comprising three studios and a range of post-production facilities, up and running by the end of the second quarter of next year.

“There is no true Arab content industry,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to engineer. It’s what the brand is all about.” Borg said that the incubator fund, which will be headed up by James Baker, was primarily aimed at people in the region, with funding for a wide range of media businesses. The group will not act as a distribution company, leaving that to partners, he said.

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