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SpongeBob comes to Dubai

October 16, 2007 10:00 by

MTV, Nickolodeon, AMG

MTV Networks International and Arab Media Group are to launch Nickelodeon Arabia, the parties said Tuesday. Hollywood Reporter says the deal will see the launch of a localized, Arabic language free-to-air channel dedicated exclusively to children across the Middle East. Nickelodeon content includes Back at the Barnyard, Tak & the Power of JuJu, the Mighty B, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr Meaty, Rugrats, El Tigre and Jimmy Neutron.

No date has been set, but it will be up by next year. The deal is the latest global media brand to be signed by AMG. Virgin Radio and MTV Arabia are both due to launch by the end of the year, more signings are promised.

AMG CEO Abdullatif Al Sayegh said there was a niche in the region for “quality children’s programming” and that “Nickelodeon will provide the best in world-standard entertainment for children, raising standards in the region and setting a strong precedent for the future.”

The 24-hour Nick channel, slated to launch in 2008, will broadcast via satellite to 36 million TV households, with a potential audience of 190 million people across the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, the parties said. Programming will include some Nickelodeon shows and original local Arabic productions. MTV Arabia is promising around 45% local content, with the remainder translated, according to reports.

MTVNI managing director and senior vp, emerging markets Bhavneet Singh told Hollywood Reporter: “The launch of Nickelodeon Arabia is a part of our wider, ongoing multiplatform strategy encompassing consumer products, digital media, hotels and theme parks, which we hope will establish Nickelodeon as the premier destination for kids in the region.”

The launch of Nickelodeon Arabia follows the recent pact between Al Ahli Group and Nickelodeon to ink a long-term partnership that will add Nickelodeon and properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and Diego, to the Al Ahli Park development in Dubai.

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