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TV stations vie for Saudi audiences during the holy month of Ramadan. The competition is fierce.

August 18, 2009 9:03 by

Claims and counterclaims abounded as two leading religious channels competed for a large share of the Saudi market during Ramadan this year. Both Al-Resalah channel and the Iqraa channel are hoping to become more visible in Saudi homes with select programs during the holy month.

Al-Resalah is registered in Kuwait and beams programs produced by various production teams. Iqraa, registered in Cairo, has production centers in Jeddah and Cairo and is part of the ART group. Both host a bevy of scholars to spread the message, sometimes the same scholars appearing on both channels.

The competition between the two TV stations became evident when they simultaneously held press conferences on Sunday to promote their fare for this Ramadan season.

Al-Resalah, which is hoping to attract more viewers in Saudi Arabia this year, was the first to project their season’s vision at the InterContinental Hotel with the station’s manager, Tariq Al-Suwaidan, saying that the channel is targeting 18 million in the Kingdom.

Responding to a query, Al-Suwaidan said the channel was not gaining ground because of the music that precedes every program.

“We would rather focus on the people who do not mind music that appears on our channel rather than focusing on the two million who do not approve of the music,” Al-Suwaidan said, adding that the channel was very popular.

“We are among the top religious channels in the Arab world but we still are second when it comes to the Kingdom,” Al-Suwaidan said while providing a survey to support his claim.

Al-Resalah’s press conference was well attended with presence of no less than 10 women reporters.

At the Iqraa press conference held at the Hyatt Park Hotel, however, only two female reporters were present; they caused a commotion because the organizing team was not prepared for women reporters. The two reporters were taken to a room away from the main conference and a makeshift partition was made with two chairs in it.

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