A total of 538 free to air (FTA) satellite TV channels are now being broadcast across the Arab world, representing an increase of 10.5% from April 2010 to April 2011, according to the Jordan-based research group, Arab Advisors.

The channels – 501 of which are fully operational – can be found on Arabsat, Nilesat and Noorsat satellites, with the majority being privately owned general entertainment stations based in Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

"In line with the liberalization of the audio visual sectors in the region, the number of private satellite channels exceeds the number of government owned channels. Over two thirds of the operational FTA satellite channels are privately owned," said Mohammed Al Shawwa, Arab Advisors Research Analyst.

"In terms of the types of channels, general private sector channels constitute around a fifth of the operational FTA satellite channels, followed by the general government sector," added Mr Al Shawwa.

The number of FTA satellite channels grew 438% between January 2004 and April 2011, according to Arab Advisors’ new report, ‘Satellite TV in the Arab World 2011’. It also points to the number of fully launched channels (rather than those in test transmissions) now amounting to 501, up from 448 in April 2010.

Dima Abu Rub, Arab Advisors Research Analyst pointed out: “A plurality of FTA channels are headquartered in Egypt which hosts 17.6% of the fully launched and operational FTA channels. Saudi Arabia and the UAE follow with percentages of 17 and 14.4, respectively”.

Rebecca Hawkes | 23-06-2011