Middle East Broadcasting Center

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Middle East Broadcasting Center
مركز تلفزيون الشرق الأوسط
Founded18 September 1991; 29 years ago (1991-09-18)
SloganWe See Hope Everywhere. Arabic (نرى الأمل في كل مكان)
HeadquartersDubai, United Arab Emirates
OwnerSaudi Arabian Government (60%); Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim (40%)
Key people
Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, Chairman
Sam Barnett (CEO)[1]
Abdul Aziz bin Fahd (major shareholder)
Official website

The Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC; Arabic: مركز تلفزيون الشرق الأوسط‎), branded in the Arab world as MBC Group, is the largest private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company in the Middle East & North Africa region. It was launched in London in 1991 and later moved to its headquarters to Dubai in 2002. The group has a plethora of channel ranging from news to music and entertainment, some of these include MBC1, MBC2, MBC3, MBC4, MBC 5, MBC 6, MBC Action, MBC MAX, MBC Persia, MBC Bollywood, Al Arabiya, Wanasah and MBC Drama. The Group also has two radio stations: MBC FM and Panorama FM.

MBC was founded in 1991 and initially headquartered in London. London was chosen so as to be seen as detached from Arab governments, however its headquarters was later moved to Dubai. The aim of MBC was to provide a view of the world "through Arabian eyes". MBC's funding is largely through commercial sources, which provides a foothold for multinational corporations in the Arab market.[2] MBC has also provided some support to social causes, including telethons in the 1990s for the people of Bosnia and Palestine.[3]

MBC was the first broadcaster to provide a satellite-based free-to-air 24-hour television network across the Arab world. It has remained privately owned, managed by a group of businessmen and shareholders, including chairman and CEO Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim. The shareholder list has never been verified although an American academic states that it is owned by members of the Saudi royal family and cablegate leaks revealed the US Ambassador had been told that MBC is owned by Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, the chairman of the channel and brother-in-law of the late King Fahd, half of the profits go to King Fahd's son, Abdulaziz bin Fahd.[4]

MBC's television arm, MBC TV, broadcasts via Arabsat and Nilesat satellites. MBC Headquarters is located in Dubai Media City. The company has more than 1,800 staff members worldwide. The first station in the group, MBC1, offers both entertainment and news content. MBC News at 9 pm provides coverage of domestic and international news. Building on the success of News at 9 pm, and in response to the perceived need from the Arabic audience, Al Arabiya was launched in March 2003 as a 24-hour free-to-air news and current affairs station.

In recent years MBC has been hit with major rounds of financial cuts, leading to 150 layoffs and major production cuts. These cuts were driven in part due to advertising not covering production costs and the failure to acquire exclusive rights to the Saudi league.[5] As of 2011 MBC reported 165 million viewers.[6]

MBC channels and services[edit]

All of MBC channel are free-to-air channels except for the HD channels and MBC Plus Variety. They are available on OSN, STC's Invision IPTV and my-HD satellite service. They are all Pay-TV service providers in the Middle East.

MBC 1[edit]

Launched in 1991 as the first independent Pan-Arab channel, MBC 1 is the first free-to-air private satellite channel, bringing entertainment into Arab homes. Today, hosting the news service in the region and with a commitment to local programming- from soap operas to hit reality TV shows.

MBC 2[edit]

The first free-to-air movie channel in the Arab world, MBC 2 offers a 24-hour non-stop stream of Hollywood movies, from blockbusters to classics and international films. Long kisses on the lips and any sexual related acts are cut from the films. Strong violence is also censored.

MBC 3[edit]

A children’s entertainment channel which delivers a programming mix of children's education and entertainment for Arab kids aged between three and thirteen. MBC 3 also airs a locally produced reality show for kids, Eish Safari, which recruits young Arab kids and sets them on a month-long trip of mental and physical challenges. Recently, the channel produced a new game show called "Graduate In A Day", similar in concept to "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" for children and their parents.

MBC 4[edit]

The Arab world’s first exclusive tailored channel for women, MBC 4 broadcasts Western entertainment, airs prime time shows such as Oprah, Dr. Oz, The Doctors Show, House, The Office, American Idol, America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance and popular Turkish and Brazilian drama series dubbed into Arabic. Today, the channel is geared towards MBC own production, based on international formats, as well as acquired Arabic content from across the region. The channel has aired the biggest production for the Group, Arabs' Got Talent, in addition to various other shows, some MBC produced, others co-produced or through acquisitions.

MBC 5[a][edit]

A channel dedicated to family entertainment was launched on 21 September 2019. Targeting Maghrébines countries generally, and Moroccan viewers specifically.[7]

MBC Bollywood[edit]

MBC launched MBC Bollywood on 26 October 2013, the same day as the season three premiere of Arabs' Got Talent.[8] MBC Bollywood is MBC Group's 14th channel,[9] and it is aimed to air 24 hours of Hindi films, either subtitled or dubbed in Arabic, targeting South Asian audiences, and Arab Bollywood enthusiasts & also onair Indian dramas

MBC MASR[edit]

MBC launched MBC Masr on 9 November 2012, and it is a division of MBC studios situated in Egypt and targeting Egyptian viewers.

MBC Masr 2[edit]

This channel was the two hours time-shifted service, but now it's a second channel for Egypt and has a different content.

MBC Action[edit]

A channel that targets young Arab males. It delivers Western series, movies and action reality shows. Some of its prime time shows include The Mentalist (exclusive on MBC Action), The Vampire Diaries (exclusive on MBC Action), Fringe (Exclusive on MBC Action), Supernatural, V (exclusive on MBC Action), WWE (exclusive on MBC Action) and True Blood. The channel recently produced its first production, Driven, which is a weekly "magazine" format show about cars, similar to Top Gear, which they also broadcast the British and American versions of the BBC's Top Gear.

MBC Max[edit]

The MBC Group’s second 24-hour movie channel which caters to a younger audience. The channel airs Western, comedy, action, romance and drama movies as well as classic and new Bollywood films.

MBC Drama[edit]

One of the latest additions to the Group, which was officially launched on 27 November 2010. It is a family channel, with 24/7 Arabic drama series. The launch coincides with the Group’s 20th anniversary, and marks our 10th channel launch. The channel runs a variety of different dramas: Egyptian, Syrian, Bedouin, Gulf And Kuwaiti dramas that are 1st runs and exclusive runs, in addition to Turkish, Mexican and Indian dramas dubbed into Arabic. MBC Drama is distinguished by the two additional repeats throughout the day, offering its viewers the choice of time, based on their various lifestyles and viewership trends. Do not confuse this channel with MBC's subscription-based channel MBC+ Drama.

MBC+ variety[edit]

Previously called MBC Persia It is a 24-hour entertainment channel that airs Western and Arabic variety content. The two most popular dubbed series are NUR (Turkish series) and Grey’s Anatomy. The channel is now exclusively on arabsat, my-hd platform.

Al Arabiya[edit]

A 24-hour free-to-air news channel which was launched in 2003. The channel also airs several documentaries.

MBC FM and Panorama FM[edit]

These radio stations are the MBC Group’s Arabic radio stations in Saudi that broadcast music, talk shows, competitions and local coverage of events and news. MBC FM plays local and Gulf music while Panorama FM delivers contemporary Arabic and Western tunes.


A 24-hour music channel that targets the Arab youth, mainly in the Persian Gulf region. The channel offers music videos, concerts, music & lifestyle programs as well as series.


One of the Arabic entertainment web portals in the region with a mix of sports, entertainment, movies and music content, along with its user interactivity and social networking features.


The online website of Al Arabiya, one of the most popular interactive news portals in the Arab world, offering latest news, views and in-depth features. With its commitment to user generated content, AlArabiya.net allows its user to interact freely with news, whilst the video forum gives budding journalists and documentary makers the opportunity to broadcast their material. The site can be browsed in Arabic, English, Urdu, and Persian. Alarabiya.net recently launched the world's first live streaming service in High Definition (HD)[citation needed] which offers the channel's viewers a new and enhanced way of following news, with a 24-hour call back.


The first free "video on demand" service in the Arab region, with the biggest streaming library of Arabic content.[10] Shahid is the largest premium VOD service in the world outside of China, the USA, and India.[11] Shahid offers a catalogue of MBC's own shows, as well as dubbed or subtitled foreign content. In January 2020, it was announced Shahid partnered with Disney and Fox to bring more than 3,000 hours of content, including Star Wars, Marvel, and such Disney classics as Frozen. The Service also announced 9 Arabic originals.

O3 production[edit]

A subsidiary of the MBC Group specializing in a variety of production and post production services. They are one of the regional market leaders in producing and distributing content as well as providing programming, documentaries, docu-dramas, factual entertainment, reality shows, Arabic drama, dubbed drama, and more.

MBC Facilities[edit]

In 2002, MBC Facilities was established to cater to the needs of the broadcast and production industry.

MBC Pro Sports[edit]

MBC Pro Sports are 4 24-hour free-to-air Satellite-TV channels that broadcast the Saudi Football Premier League, Saudi King's Cup and Saudi Supercup. It also broadcasts TV series that analyze both Saudi and worldwide football matches. It was launched for the 2014/15 Season due to the loss of Saudi Sport Channels to the right of broadcasting the League.

Eventique Company[edit]

In May 2012 MBC launched the Eventique Company to start providing wedding planning and event management.[5]

MBC Hope[edit]

MBC Hope was launched in June 2013 to handle the consumer social relationship elements of MBC. This initiative launched campaigns such as "Syrians without an address" and "Stars on board". In 2017 MBC Hope was expanded to Egypt, with a goal to support female entrepreneurs.[5]


In 2017 a number of owners and board members of MBC were summoned to Riyadh where they were arrested, accused of corruption, and locked in the Ritz-Carlton. These moves came following years of the Saudi Crown Prince attempting to purchase the media company. After 83 days the company's chief owner Waleed al-Ibrahim was released.[12] Following this crackdown, the Saudi government took a 60% control of MBC - leaving the remaining 40% to Waleed al-Ibrahim.[13]

In 2007 MBC began airing its first Turkish soap opera dubbed into another language. Over the next few years these programs became a major success for MBC, with over 85 million viewing the finale of Gümüş.[14] In 2018, MBC moved to remove all Turkish programming from their channels. While no official reason was given, many saw this as a political move, as it was made shortly after the Saudi government took a majority stake in MBC following the lock-down at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.[13]

MBC has come under global scrutiny for its use of blackface in popular programming. Popular Egyptian comedian Shaimaa Seif has done a number of programs on MBC using blackface and stereotypes for humor. While some social media backlash has occurred, Seif and MBC have not changed in regards to their content.[15]

Some have raised concern of the amount of American advertisements on MBC channels, with some studies suggesting over 50% of advertising time is devoted towards American products such as those from Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's, and PepsiCo. These critics state that this leads to cultural imperialism and erodes at the native cultures of areas in the Middle East and North Africa. In a study focused on Algerian consumer preferences, it was found that these consumers were drawn to American advertisements and products advertised on MBC. This in turn led Algerian companies to mimic the advertising style and aesthetic of American companies.[16]

Use of technology[edit]

In 2010, MBC Max provided the ability to watch English movies with Arabic voices, along with watching English movies (English voices) with or without Arabic subtitles.

In July 2011, MBC launched 11 of its channels in HD which includes MBC 1, MBC 2, MBC 3, MBC 4, MBC 6, MBC Action, MBC Max, MBC Bollywood, MBC Iraq, MBC Drama and Al Arabiya. These HD versions of these channels are encrypted using Conax while SD are FTA.

In 2017 Snapchat expanded its "Discover" feature to provide content from regional providers including MBC.[17]

Online platforms[edit]


On 17 September 2013, the Anti-Defamation League criticized the network for using a clip of the 2009 film Inglourious Basterds in which the Adolf Hitler character was speaking to other Nazis, with the subtitles replaced with advertisements for the network. The League said "The use of such imagery contributes to the trivialization of and desensitization to the unparalleled horrors of the Holocaust."[18]


  1. ^ "Sam Barnett becomes MBC CEO". Dubai News. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Ayish, Muhammad I. (December 1997). "Arab Television Goes Commercial". Gazette (Leiden, Netherlands). 59 (6): 473–494. doi:10.1177/0016549297059006004. ISSN 0016-5492.
  3. ^ Ayish, Muhammad I.; Qassim, Ali (August 1996). "Direct satellite broadcasting in the Arab Gulf region: Trends and policies". Gazette (Leiden, Netherlands). 56 (1): 19–36. doi:10.1177/001654929605600102. ISSN 0016-5492.
  4. ^ "Cable reference id: #09RIYADH651 - Cablegate Search Archive". Cablegate Search Archive. Retrieved 3 January 2018.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c "MBC Group (Middle East Broadcasting Center)". egypt.mom-rsf.org. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC): A Case of the Content Management Blues". EContent Magazine. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ "الرئيسية".
  8. ^ "MBC launches Bollywood channel". Arab News. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  9. ^ "MBC promises 'fresh approach' to Bollywood with new channel". Al Arabiya. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  10. ^ "All-new Shahid: MBC partners with Disney and Fox for fresh version of streaming platform".
  11. ^ "Shahid reports 23% surge in viewer numbers year on year".
  12. ^ Hubbard, Ben (26 January 2018). "Saudi Arabia Frees Media Mogul, but His Company's Fate Remains a Mystery". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  13. ^ a b Erşen, Elif Binici (6 March 2018). "Against MBC decision, Turkish TV producers want to retain relationship with viewers". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  14. ^ Buccianti, Alexandra. "Dubbed Turkish soap operas conquering the Arab world: social liberation or cultural alienation?" (PDF).
  15. ^ Walsh, Declan (18 August 2019). "Blackface, Staple of Arab Comedy, Faces Surge of Criticism". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  16. ^ Sarra, Merzougui. "The Impact of the American Cultural Imperialism on the Algerian Society:A Study of American Advertisements on the MBC Channels" (PDF).
  17. ^ Radcliffe, Damian; Lam, Amanda (February 2018). "Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2017; Key developments, stories and research findings". doi:10.7264/N31J9849. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ ADL Official blog


  1. ^ 5 is pronounced "cinq" in French.

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