(photo credit: )
Disney programming and movies will be available for free in the Middle East following a new deal between Disney's parent company News Corporation and the Saudi Rotana Media Group.
Disney movies and programs will be available to Middle East viewers on the Fox Movies and Fox Series channels through a deal between Fox and Rotana, the Saudi satellite and media company which carries the two Fox channels.
Both Fox and Disney are owed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The owner of Rotana, Saudi Price Alwaleed Bin Talal, holds a major stake in News Corporation.
"If News Corporation wants to get a foot in the Middle East market this is definitely a very sound acquisition for them," Saudi Businessman Ahmed Egel told The Media Line. "From Rotana's side this makes a lot of sense because it provides them with content, which is what all free to air networks want because through content they can increase their viewer base and therefore increase their advertising revenue."
In September 2009 there were rumors that News Corporation planned to buy a 20 percent stake in Rotana but according to recent reports in local media the deal will be for only 10 percent.
In addition to its satellite network, the Rotana Group also includes a magazine, seven music channels and a record label with over 100 artists under contract.
According to Rotana the company controls 20 percent of the market in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, considered to be the most important markets in the Arab world. The company hopes the new deal will bring that figure up to 30%.
Based in Saudi Arabia, a country where public cinema is forbidden, Rotana also owns a film production company and is the sponsor of a local film festival. The company is owned by Prince Bin Talal, the nephew of the Saudi king, who has an estimated net worth of $13.3 billion.
While Al-Jazeera might be the most well known Arab satellite channel, the region is awash with stations.
Lebanon's LBC station recently got into trouble in Saudi Arabian after it aired a television show in which a Saudi man bragged about his sexual experiences.
The recently established Ana TV in Egypt, aimed at creating a new perspective within the growing Islamic media throughout the Muslim world, is also set to be a major player.