News Corp plans two Middle East channels

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has plans to launch two English-language channels in the Middle East before the end of the year.

A movie channel will begin in May and a drama service, carrying mainly American shows, is to launch in the autumn, according to Variety. Both will be free-to-air on satellite.

They will be launched in a partnership with Middle East media giant Rotana which is owned by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. He also owns a stake of around 5% in News Corp and has apparently been seeking an agreement for two years.

The deal has been finalised, say reports, by James Murdoch, News Corp chief executive for Europe and Asia. Fox will own the channels while Rotana will handle advertising and distribution.