Image Nation is set to open a 24-hour Chinese television channel for the region according to a report in The National. The announcement comes during Chinese president Xi Jinping's visit to the UAE and aims to capitalise on the growing Chinese population in the Middle East and the country's growing influence in the global economy.
The reason for the initiative gathering steam is the success of a China-focused factual entertainment series airing on the Quest Arabiya channel, which is co-owned by Image Nation and Discovery Communications and airs across the Middle East and North Africa.
Image nation chief executive Michael Garin said Chinese content is "one of the most successful programmes on the channel,” ahead of President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UAE on Thursday.
The Abu Dhabi-based media and entertainment giant has seen high engagement in the dubbed Chinese content on its Quest Arabiya channel, which has since 2017, telecast Chinese programmes to the Middle East once a week. The Chinese lifestyle and culture show is dubbed into Arabic rather than subtitled.
The 22 episode series is a result of the partnership forged by Image Nation in 2016 with China’s government-backed Intercontinental Communication Centre. The deal established an international film fund called The Culture China – Image Nation Content Fund. The $300 million fund sees the two partners jointly invest in movies and TV content produced in Hollywood, the United Arab Emirates, China and other countries.
"Arab audiences have an insatiable curiosity about the world outside their region and China is near the top of their list. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of online engagement with these programmes and this explains why the 24-hour channel has such an interesting appeal. We are now in advanced conversations with the Chinese based on the success of this to make it a 24-hour channel," Garin is quoted as saying by The National.
The National article stated that the new channel is likely to be differentiated from other Image Nation media properties with its separate branding.
Garin added that Chinese collaboration with Image Nation would help in tapping into existing expertise in the region and sharing the cost of building teams for programming, operations, on-air promotion, and finance.