JumpTV Launches Iraqi Broadband Channels

by , Jan 25, 2006, 6:00 AM
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Broadband TV Network JumpTV today is expected to launch a subscription package for five Iraqi TV channels, one of which offers gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

The target audience for the channels--which will stream in untranslated Arabic--is Iraqi-Americans who want news from home, and Arab-Americans interested in the region, said Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, President of JumpTV.

Some of the channels have been available piecemeal prior to this launch, and JumpTV has garnered "hundreds" of subscribers with no marketing efforts, Tuzman said. The subscription packages will cost between $14.95 and $19.95.

JumpTV is not inserting any additional ads in the five channels--Al-Sumaria, Al-Fayhaa, Al-Nahrain, Al-Baghdadiyah, and Al-Diyar, which offers the trial footage. A U.S-backed station, Al-Hurra, was not included in the programming bundle.

"We didn't want in any way to be received as a propaganda tool," Tuzman said. "We wanted to make sure that Iraqis, that are ultimately our customers, would feel that we were giving them the full range of content without pushing an agenda."

He also said that JumpTV would consider monetizing the feeds with ads in the future. The company is also investigating translating the feeds, but so far the cost has been prohibitive. "It's quite expensive, and as important as the expense is the accuracy issue," he said. "We're broadcasting live TV with a three-second delay. As soon as we can make it happen, we will."

The bundle includes five of the seven independent Iraqi TV channels, and JumpTV is in negotiations to secure contracts with the other two--Al-Iraqia, and Al-Shakia.

In addition to this latest Iraqi programming bundle, JumpTV streams dozens of channels from 37 different countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, for a per-channel subscription fee to subscribers all over the world.

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