From big brother to Al Maleka: The growing pains of TV format trade in the Arab region

Joe F. Khalil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Broadly defined as the sale of television programmes’ production rights and technologies, the TV format trade is a growing global business. Not only are formats representative of a wide array of programming practices but the process of licensing, casting, producing and ‘using’ these shows has become increasingly developed and sophisticated. This article underscores the coexistence between global TV formats and their locally/regionally originating Arab counterparts. It offers a brief overview of the multiple and localized meanings of formats and an abridged history of formats in the Arab region to reveal three distinct TV format stages: foundation, development and maturity. This article looks for answers to what is driving the maturity of format TV in the Arab region, not by looking at specific programmes but by examining the history, structure and production arrangements of media industries. Using a critical political economy approach, this article is the outcome of production ethnographies conducted in Beirut and Dubai.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Digital Television
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Arab
  • Format TV
  • MBC
  • Middle east
  • Programmes development
  • Reality TV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Media Technology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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