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French Version

Arabsat to bid for increased market share with new satellites

2 launchings, in 2005 and 2006, will cost $300m
Organization offers multi-mission services such as television, telephony and Internet

The Arab Satellite Communication Organization Arabsat intends to launch two satellites into orbit at the end of 2005 and early 2006, Arabstat's vice president of sales and marketing, Tarek Balkheyour, said on Thursday.

"The $300 million project is part of Arabsat's new strategy to increase its market share in the Middle East and to counter the fierce competition from other cable satellite providers," Balkheyour told The Daily Star.

Arabsat, which offers its customers multi-mission satellite services, such as television, telephony, Internet and other interactive services, controls around "36 percent of the region's market share," according to Balkheyour.

Arabsat was created by the Arab League in 1976 to provide cultural and educational services in the Middle East.

Balkheyour added that Arabsat holds "around 80" customer channels in its televised broadcasting system.

Balkheyour said that in broadcasting, Arabsat has two main competitors - NileSat and HotBird.

The announcement came during a two-day "First Arabsat Satellite TV Broadcasters Forum," organized by Arabsat at the Inter-Continental Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut on Thursday.

Lebanese officials attended the opening, including Information Minister Elie Ferzli and Arabsat president and CEO Khaled Balkheyour.

According to its president, who spoke during the seminar, "Arabsat is one of the most successful unified Arab works. It was able to connect the Arab world together via telephone and televised connections, and to present it with other communication services."

The Arabsat head also said that Arabsat underwent restructuring "in 2004 and developed its plans and marketing strategies to accommodate market changes."

The internal and external reconstruction "is also to fight competition in the domain of satellite transmission where the region faces a shifting market and severe competition, leading to the survival of the fittest," he added.

"Every commercial company competes to get more customers, but the real challenge is keeping those customers," said Arabsat's CEO.

This can only happen "by building the customers' trust toward us and developing mutual relations into a strategically built partnership based on common interests," he added.

The forum will conclude Friday with a presentation on High Definition television and other technology impacting the broadcast business in the Middle East.

Beirut,12 13 2004
Leila Hatoum
The Daily Star
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