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'Strong Appetite' For Middle East News

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There is a "strong appetite" in the Middle East for news content in different formats, as well as a desire to access trustworthy news from a number of different perspectives, according to a new survey conducted for The Associated Press.

The report 'Spring Tide: The new era for video news in the Middle East and North Africa', examines the news market in the region and suggests ways it needs to evolve.
Produced by Deloitte, the survey of 18 to 45-year-olds in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia shows that 97% of consumers regularly discuss news and current affairs in their daily lives. News is consumed by audiences in the region for an average of 72 minutes per day. This is longer than in the UK, Germany and Japan.
The report also said the Middle East is often ill-served by existing news providers, while almost a third of respondents said trust was "paramount" when choosing a news provider.
Despite identifying a preference for locally produced content, over half of respondents said international TV content is a better source of news because of better quality video clips. 75% said they would be more likely to access a news story if it has an accompanying video, and that video consumers have a higher dwell time on news content each day. 83% of Middle East consumers said video clips improve the overall understanding of content.
Lighthearted stories are important, as is international news, while political news stories remain the most commonly accessed – by 80% of respondents. 63% expressed a desire for increased coverage of regionally-focused stories.
70% of respondents use social media for news more today than they did last year, while 59% discover the majority of news this way. But it seems TV remains an important way of finding out more on a story once it has broken, with 43% accessing it first to get more information.
"The new study gives us a much deeper understanding of Middle East news consumers and how the industry needs to adapt to meet their needs," said Ian Phillips, Middle East director of news for AP. "For example, it's critical to understand the trends in news consumption habits, particularly when it comes to video and the use of social media.
"The demand for better quality video and more regional news also presents a number of opportunities, while the increased use of social media suggests the need for new and innovative strategies to drive audiences back to online news sites."
Matthew Guest, head of digital strategy for Deloitte Europe, added: "We were really excited to carry out research in a market that is evolving incredibly fast on both the supply and demand side.
"The findings highlight a series of exciting opportunities for news providers, particularly for local outlets that are in a position to produce a richer, more cultural output for audiences. The Middle East is flourishing and news providers need to ensure that supply balances with demand in the future."

Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP


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