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Dubai’s OSN wins Filipino TV deal amid new rivalry for Mideast viewers

Published: Updated:

The Dubai-based TV operator OSN has obtained the rights to broadcast four channels owned by ABS-CBN, the largest television network in the Philippines, industry sources told Al Arabiya.

The news comes after a rival broadcaster clinched the regional rights to several other Filipino stations, indicating increasing competition to sell TV packages to the large expatriate community from the Philippines.

OSN will start broadcasting four ABS-CBN channels from May 1. Two industry sources confirmed the deal, which is expected to be announced tomorrow. ABS-CBN, which is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Al Arabiya.

The Dubai broadcaster will carry The Filipino Channel (TFC), the network’s main entertainment channel, which is said to be the biggest Filipino station in the world. The other stations are Cinema One Global, the news station ANC and the sports and entertainment channel Bro.

OSN will carry the four stations on its two Pinoy packages, with subscription costs of either Dh117.60 or Dh151.89 a month. Those packages also include at least 40 additional channels.

The channels will replace the GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV channels, which will be dropped from the OSN platform.

Regional rights to those two channels, along with another called GMA News TV, were recently acquired by the Dubai-based My-HD Media.

Cliff Nelson, chief executive of My-HD Media, today told Al Arabiya that the company is about to sign a broadcast-rights deal for a fourth Filipino channel.

My-HD intends to charge Dh89 a month for subscriptions to the GMA channels, packaged with other channels. “It’s about 30 channels [in total]; eventually that will increase,” said Mr Nelson.

My-HD last year signed a deal with MBC Group, the Arab world’s biggest broadcaster, to carry a number of MBC’s high-definition channels. Al Arabiya English is part of MBC Group.

Consumers must purchase a My-HD viewing card to access the channels, and also need a compatible set-top box. Mr Nelson said that, in order to receive the GMA channels along with the other stations, My-HD subscribers would need two satellite dishes.

The interest in Filipino channels comes as Middle East broadcasters look to target an estimated 2.7 million Filipinos living in the GCC. According to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, which is part of the Office of the President of the Philippines, there are more than 1.5 million Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and 670,000 in the UAE.

My-HD’s Mr Nelson shrugged off news that its larger, older rival OSN had acquired the rights to the ABS-CBN stations. “It frankly doesn’t bother us too much, because these are two distinct networks,” he said.