The five key pillars of the media industry comprise funding of local content production, talent development, infrastructure digitisation and ‘smart collaboration’ between media and telco players, as well as monetisation of content and the regulatory role of the government, according to Emmanuel Durou, Telecommunications, Media and Telecom (TMT) Director, Deloitte Middle East.
His comment came during a Film Forum held on the sidelines of the 8th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Themed ‘Fostering a Thriving Environment for Local Content’, the discussion focused around a special report ‘Stimulating the Production and Monetisation of Local Content in the Arab World’ that has been compiled with the support of TECOM Investments’ Media Cluster comprising Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and the International Media Production Zone.
The report is based on private discussions with key players in the telecom and media value chain and examines the current status of the five pillars of the media sector in the MENA region.
Participants at the event including senior executives from the region’s telecom and media industries explored local content creation opportunities and challenges facing the Arab media industry.
Organised in association with Dubai Studio City, DIFF is an integral part of Dubai’s efforts to establish itself as a global hub for the film industry. Featuring the Middle East’s dedicated film and broadcast production cluster as its centrepiece, the event that began on 7 December will run until 14 December.
Durou added: “Over the past 18 months in the region, considerable effort has been placed in funding through governmental seed money, talent development with multiple media training academies and telco-led improvement in mobile and fixed digital infrastructure. However, as ad-funded and paid-for content revenues remain low in the region, a significant task is ahead of us in defining the optimum commercial model for content sales. We also need to ensure better protection and incentives for the owners of rights via adequate media regulation and enforcement.”
Moderated by Claire Aguilar, ITVS, US, the session also included as panellist, Meinholf Zurhost, Head of Feature Films, ZDF/ARTE, Germany.
Some of the distinct areas of intervention that were brought up during the seminar included timely roll-out of audience measurement systems, targeted content solutions on satellite, opportunities for co-production, encouraging entrepreneurship, anti-piracy initiatives and local content quotas.
Dubai Studio City also marked its presence at a special session during Film Mart, a distinctive platform for the trade and distribution of films at DIFF, which explored the processes and services required for supporting the burgeoning indigenous film industry and gain increased interest from international production studios.
Elaborating on the exclusive services offered by DSC’s Location Approval Services (LAS) department, Jamal Al Sharif, Managing Director, Dubai Studio City and Dubai Media City, said: “The department has helped cement Dubai’s status as a major destination for film shoots. Dubai offers a range of location-specific advantages to international filmmakers. We invite professionals to come to the emirate for commercial, television or cinema production, and assure them of the support of our Location Approval Services (LAS) department.”
With a sole mandate to issue permissions for filming and photography activities in Dubai, the LAS department offers instant convenience to international filmmakers through expediting and facilitating all aspects of filming in Dubai and the UAE, including location scouting, access of talent, arrangement of visas and organizing affordable accommodations for crew.
LAS data collected over the past years indicates a strong growth in demand for production services. In 2010, the department facilitated 888 film shoots. In particular, the LAS mobilised its capabilities and expertise to provide logistics support to the team from Paramount Pictures for the latest sequel of the action thriller ‘Mission Impossible’ starring Tom Cruise.
Other projects facilitated by LAS include the Bollywood box office hit ‘Dabaang’ and the reality show ‘Best Friends Forever’ featuring famous celebrity Paris Hilton. Films such as ‘Race’ and ‘Partner’ (India); ‘Dr Who’ series (the UK); ‘Amazing Race’ (the US); ‘Andaleeb Al Dooki’ (Egypt); ‘City of Life’ (the UAE); ‘Keif Al Hal’ (Saudi Arabia) and ‘Dream Boat’ (Germany) are some of the popular films that also had LAS overseeing the approval requests.