Pierre El Daher

Pierre El Daher is a successful Lebanese businessman and the Chairman & CEO of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International LBCI, Lebanon's number one television channel.

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Moving on
Pierre daher
Article by Nathalie Bontems, published in Communicate Magazine, July/August 2013 publication
Lebanese TV mogul, El Daher, explains what happened to his partnership with media titan Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, and the launch of his new station

He was the wrong partner. He doesn’t understand television. We had our differences from the beginning. I made the wrong decision and our venture went nowhere. Things started to go downhill when I was outvoted on the decision to fire LBC SAT’s media rep, Choueiri Group, and instead hire Rotana Media Services (RMS). RMS couldn’t generate half of the profits that Choueiri Group did; that’s when our disagreements escalated.

The market is at a turning point; the old models do not exist anymore. What the internet did is game changing. Therefore, you need to have a partner with a vision, someone who can understand where media is going. You need to think in the long term because benefits will not come immediately, you need to be patient. I wanted to adapt to the trends of the market; my partner had different views. I saw the general entertainment genre, even though it generates money, enjoyed a lot of decent competition and wasn’t what we should venture into.

I would not have chosen the same partner.

We do not have ownership of the brand anymore. The agreement between Lebanese Media Holding (LMH) El Daher’s company, that still owns local Lebanese station, LBC International) and Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, stipulated that in the case of the termination of our contract, he will own LBC SAT, while other franchises of LBC (LBC America, LBC Europe, and LBC Australia) will remain with LMH. This part of the legal fight lingered due to wording and terminology of the contract. Nevertheless, we decided to launch our new satellite brand, LDC (Lebanese Diaspora Channel) to strengthen our presence in the market. The Lebanese law states that any channel licensed in Lebanon has an obligation to reach the Lebanese diaspora worldwide; therefore, our channel is for our global audience and not for a specific region.

I don’t feel anything. I am a businessman.

PAC (Production and Acquisition Company) shut down operations and declared bankruptcy. We do not own it, even though we could pay a reimbursement fee to retain it.

However, in terms of LBCI’s outstanding payments for services rendered by PAC, the litigation process is still ongoing. The third party involved in the case, Rotana, decided to drop the lawsuit, and right now we are trying to settle it amicably.

LBCI was free to rehire old employees of PAC, and it did so according to its production needs. We still own the equipment used by the production company.

LDC, which doesn’t belong to LBCI but to different entities, will mostly broadcast the content of LBCI, in addition to its own content from various producers. So in a way, it is the closest you can have to LBCI. What governed the relationship between LBCI and LBC SAT, was that all shows produced by LBCI were sold to LBC SAT; the same scenario will apply to LDC and LBCI.

We are streaming all of our content online so we can reach everyone, anytime. There’s a project in the pipeline, but I will reveal it in due time.

Choueiri Group is our agency regionally and globally.

I don’t think anyone is competing with LBC SAT these days. If the channel isn’t dying, then it is already dead. The content is very poor and it’s not doing well at all.

TV is not gone, but it’s not growing anymore, it reached its peak. The future is all about content regardless of platforms. The biggest thing that remains unknown is how to monetize your content on various platforms. We invested very little in LDC, almost as much as the cost of a transponder. The content for the channel is already available from LBCI. Also we are not aiming for high profits.

Live interactive entertainment is what will take over the region.

MBC is very well established and they have a good team. They are not succeeding in everything but they are trying nonetheless. Most Arab channels in the Middle East either belong to governments or individuals with deep pockets. But, if you’re looking for ROI, then you need to go into niche content and stay clear from general entertainment.

I still see it as number one, but I don’t know how it will fare in ten years. Content will become more niche. I also think it will be harder to find individuals to invest in TV.

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