BBC in Arabic experiments with web-based video drama and putting viewers in the director's seat.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 16 Apr 2010, Keach Hagey: "The BBC is pushing Arabic drama onto the Web -- five frantic minutes at a time. The BBC World Service Trust has put up the coin for Beirut-based Batoota Films to launch the Arab world's first Web-based series, called 'Shankaboot,' about a 15-year-old moped delivery boy (Hassan Akil) who spends his days careening through Beirut's chaotic streets. With its handheld camerawork, stylish production values and sense of humor, the series is a far cry from the melodramatic sudsers that dominate pan-Arab satellite TV. ... A month after its soft launch, the Web-only drama has attracted 5,000 fans to its Facebook page and has received nearly 30,000 page views on its Web page, where the first 10 five-minute episodes are hosted. ... 'We've made it available in as many resolutions as YouTube will allow,' says technical director Simon Channon. 'But we've got fairly restrictive download speeds in Lebanon.' Batoota's [Katia] Saleh, who has previously helmed documentaries for Al-Jazeera English, says funding for the first 50 episodes is now in place, but after the initial push from the BBC, the series is expected to find advertising and sponsors to become self-supporting.", 17 Apr 2010, interviewing Hosam El Sokkari, head of BBC Arabic and creator of the 710 Greenwich current affairs talk show: "There have been four generations of interactivity if you like. First the public provided quotes and ideas by SMS. Citizen journalism was then used within programmes. Then visual user generated content was integrated into shows and became an integral part or even the basis of some formats. We are looking to go one step further now. They want to interact and take part. The viewers have the opportunity not just to be reporters or contributors but to actually research and produce the show. We can put them in the director's seat."