Norwalk, Conn., Firm Sells Documentary Mini-Series to ME Broadcaster

The Stamford Advocate, Stamford, Conn.
March 30, 2004, Tuesday

Norwalk, Conn., Firm Sells Documentary Mini-Series to Middle East

By Richard Lee

A Norwalk media company is making inroads into the Middle East with
the sale of “The Genocide Factor,” a four-hour history of religious
and ethnic persecution through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11,
2001, to the Middle East Broadcasting Centre.

The documentary mini-series, sold by Norwalk-based CABLEready and
produced by Media Entertainment of Tampa, Fla., will premiere next
month on the pan-Arab network Al-Arabiya TV.

The deal follows the January airing of the series on UKTV History in
Great Britain, where time period ratings jumped 21 percent compared
with year-to-date averages.

It also has run on PBS in the United States, Media Park in Spain and
Portugal, and Odyssey in Australia.

“The Genocide Factor,” introduced by actor Jon Voight, features
interviews, historical drawings, paintings, photos and news footage.
Interviews include segments with Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and
former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as well as
testimonials from survivors of some of the world’s most tragic
religious and ethnic massacres, including those in Armenia, Bosnia,
East Timor, Rwanda, the Ukraine and the Nazi Holocaust.

“In my 25 years of distributing TV shows, I can’t think of any deal
more gratifying to me personally than this one with Al-Arabiya TV,”
said Gary Lico, president and chief executive officer of CABLEready.
“Having ‘The Genocide Factor’ run complete and uncensored on free TV
in the Middle East to a potential audience of more than 130 million
people is truly groundbreaking. Educating viewers worldwide about
these horrors inflicted throughout history can be a great tool toward
ending such acts of violence and hatred.”

Launched by Middle East Broadcasting Centre, which owns MBC TV,
Dubai-based Al-Arabiya is seen in 15 to 20 countries in the Middle
East. When Al-Arabiya went on the air last year, its investors from
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf states promised to provide
objective and quality programming and news content.

“As a company, we have a lot of respect for that,” said Sabrina
Sanchez, director of program marketing for CABLEready. “I’m sure
there will be some negative reaction from audiences, but Al-Arabiya
is pretty good at standing its ground.”

Specializing in news, documentaries and current affairs programs,
Al-Arabiya was organized as a competitor to Qatar-based al-Jazeera
TV. United States officials have criticized both Al-Arabiya’s and
al-Jazeera’s news coverage in Iraq.

Established in 1992, CABLEready has developed as a strong player in
the international market, said Cynthia Turner, publisher of
Stratford-based online television industry trade publication “Gary has been enormously successful, and he’s
well-respected in the field. In the TV business, your reputation is
everything,” she said. Selling a program on such as serious topic in
the Middle East must have been a challenge, Turner said.

“Nobody will buy a series that nobody wants to see. You can’t
force-feed an audience,” she said.

CABLEready distributes “Inside the Actors Studio,” shown on Bravo in
the United States and airing in more than 100 countries, and
“Forensic Files,” Court TV’s top-rated series, which also has been
shown on NBC. It also has signed a deal with Outdoor Life Network in
Stamford to handle worldwide sales of 595 hours of OLN programs. The
pact covers 1,092 episodes from 41 series and eight specials.

The Norwalk company also will handle sales of future OLN programming
as it becomes available for international distribution. CABLEready
already handles international sales for two other OLN series,
“Mysterious Encounters,” “Samurai Sportsman.”

“It’s the first time that OLN programming has been formally
distributed overseas,” said Sanchez, who next week will attend MIP TV
in Cannes, France, which focuses on the marketing of television

“We are excited about the international prospects for our
programming,” said Becky Ruthven, senior vice president of affiliate
sales for OLN.