Arabic channel unhappy with rejection of RTL7
21 March 2007 - Arabic entertainment channel
Rotana is happy that the General Programme Council (APR) has advised
to carry the channel on the Amsterdam cable, but it is less happy
with the advice to sacrifice commercial channel RTL7 to make room
for Rotana. The APR says it had no choice.
The advice to remove RTL7 in favour of an Arabic channel predictably
resulted in Islamophobic abuse on internet forums and in the PVV
asking questions in Parliament. The PVV
speaks of ‘irrational decisions motivated by political correctness
and multiculturalism rather than the interests of the viewers’.
Rotana Spokesperson Ruud Nijhout has mixed feelings about the APR
advice. “That they decided to name a channel that was to disappear
in exchange for us is their responsibility”.
Nijhout is not happy with Rotana and RTL7 being juxtaposed in this
way. “To be honest, that is not something I wished for. We
did not ask for that, we only asked, what does the APR think about
the offer of Rotana”.
Incidentally, cable television provider UPC still has to decide
whether or not to carry Rotana, and if so, whether RTL7 will have
to go. The company has suggested the latter is not likely.
Els van Loenen, Secretary of the APR, indicates that it was inevitable
to name a channel that would have to disappear in favour of Rotana.
“We do not like doing that, not at all, for we know that this
always means letting down a group of viewers, but since the number
of channels is fixed, we have to. The problem would disappear if
UPC would add one or two channels”.
RTL7 was excluded from the advice because few people watch the
channel and because of the wish to have a diverse selection of TV
channels on offer. The channel
The APR received many telephone calls in response to the advice.
“That did give us something of a shock, the tone, especially
from consumers. There have been responses of which we say, well,
it is a pity that they respond to it in such a way”.
Rotana has been announced as a family channel, but according to
Nijhout it is not an Arabic RAI Uno. “No, it has some characteristics
in common with MTV; especially in Europe a substantial amount of
music will be broadcast”. In addition, the channel will bring
shows, movies and games.
Rotana, which is owned by the Saudi prince Al-Waleed, was founded
in 1987 as a record label. The company produces CD’s by artists
including Najwa Karam, Amr Diab and Majida el Roumi (see illustration
addition, the company has grown into a media company with television
channels that are broadcast throughout the Arab world. “It
is true that many people in Europe do not know Rotana, but it is
nevertheless one of the largest channels in the Arab world”,
At the end of last year, the company started to focus on Europe,
with the Rotana Music Europe (RME) channel among others. On a trial
basis, Rotana is carried by the cable provider in Schiedam and Westland,
as well as in a number of large cities in the UK.
In the Netherlands, the company thinks there is a potential target
group of 1.5 to 2 million people who understand Arabic. An important
part of this group consists of Moroccans. Nijhout acknowledges that
many Moroccans speak Berber (Tamazigh) and know little Arabic. “That
has our attention”.
In the future Rotana will perhaps be subtitled, although Nijhout
indicates that the role of language must not be exaggerated. “The
music we will broadcast is rather universal, and subtitles will
not be strictly necessary. After all, we do not subtitle French
chansons in the Netherlands either”.
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