Islamic TV channels have multiplied in the Middle East in recent years and have been quite successful in terms of drawing a wide audience, but still are experiencing financial difficulties, the Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al Awsat reports in its English edition (January 31). Advertising firms do not regard such channels as appropriate for their products.
This leaves the channels with no other option but to rely on donations. The people in charge of the channels claim that dubious practices keep a monopoly of advertising agencies directing all money to other channels and preventing religious channels from potential sources of income, although their viewers are as interested in new products as everyone else.
Advertising agencies have a different view of the issue. Conservative channels do not accept commercials featuring women, music and singing, and a specific content would have to be developed for inclusion on such channels.
Such commercials may too unusual to most advertisers‘ tastes. Another possibility for generating revenue would be to provide alternative sources of income, such as text messaging to help viewers with consultations on religious issues. But religious channels claim the net profit derived from such services wouldn’t be sufficient.
— By Jean-Francois Mayer