Facebook and Netflix have come forward with USD 100m each for those financially affected by the lockdown triggered by the pandemic.
Let’s face it. The coronavirus outbreak has turned our world upside down. Having seen the volatility in the stock markets over the last couple of months, I shudder to think of how many companies will not survive the hit. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We, humans, are an extremely resilient race, and I am certain – as many of you are – that this too shall pass.
In this issue, I’d like to especially pay tribute to the heroes of our industry, whose magnanimous gestures during this hour of need must be mentioned. I’m talking about companies like Facebook, which announced a $100m grant programme for small businesses impacted by the pandemic, and Netflix, which also launched a $100m relief fund for out-of-work creatives. Similarly, the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation has offered a grant to Saudi nationals affected by the outbreak. I also can’t resist a shout-out to Amazon for scrapping its subscriptions and offering Audible for free until this situation is brought under control.
On a smaller scale, we have seen the likes of Abbout Productions screen movies on Vimeo for free during this period, giving people the opportunity to watch some of its films.
In the meantime, life still goes on and pandemic or not, BroadcastPro ME continues to scout the market for exclusive news to bring to readers. With outbound travel completely off the cards, I had the opportunity to go northeast to Al Dhaid, where Sharjah Broadcasting Authority had just inaugurated a brand-new IP facility for Al Wousta TV.
The last time I went to Al Dhaid was when I was probably five or six. In the last four-plus decades, the place hasn’t changed that much. In contrast with Dubai’s futuristic cityscape, Al Dhaid is a gentle and quiet reminder of the old Bedouin culture that was part of my childhood. I wish I could take a piece of that serenity back home with me.
Paradoxically, nestled in this quiet desert oasis where there is nothing else in sight is the MENA region’s first IP facility based on the SMPTE 2110 standard. I’m proud of this story because this is the first time we have ever managed to get officials from Sharjah Broadcasting Authority to step into the limelight – and when they do, they do the region proud.