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Netflix pulls comedy show episode in Saudi Arabia; iflix exits Africa

In this monthly Africa and Middle East video spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different African and Middle Eastern markets.

TOP NEWS

* Netflix Inc. has taken down an episode of comedy show "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" in Saudi Arabia after a request from the kingdom's Communications and Information Technology Commission, Financial Times reported Jan. 1. Saudi Arabia's request roots from the episode's alleged violation of the Middle Eastern country's cybercrime law.

* Malaysia-based iflix Sdn. Bhd. sold its stake in African streaming platform Kwesé iflix to Econet Global, Kwesé's parent company, in a move to focus on its Asian operations, Digital TV Europe reported Jan. 2. The streaming company expanded into Africa in 2017.

OTHER STORIES

* Mobile video platform TikTok, known in China as Douyin, has officially launched in the United Arab Emirates, Rapid TV News reported Dec. 26, 2018.

* The World Trade Organization is looking to investigate Qatar's dispute against Saudi Arabia's alleged intellectual property breaches, Broadband TV News reported Dec. 19, 2018. The issue includes Saudi Arabia-based beoutQ's illegal broadcast of beIN SPORTS channels.

* BeIN Media Group LLC on Dec. 17, 2018, said it is migrating its transponder capacity from Nilesat. The company noted that the majority of set-top boxes will be automatically reconfigured but added that subscribers may have to ensure that their set-top boxes are reconfigured starting Jan. 1 to avoid interruptions.

* Online production company Bustop TV has teamed up with Kwesé iflix to form comedy TV series "Comic Tick," which would feature Zimbabwean standup comedians, Zimbabwe's The Chronicle reported Dec. 17, 2018. Kwesé iflix fully funded the production of the new TV series.

* Kwesé iflix unveiled original African drama series "Nganya," News Ghana reported Dec. 17, 2018. The 13-episode drama series is in Sheng, with available English subtitles.

* MTN Group Ltd. has acquired rights to air Viacom Inc.'s channels following a cooperation agreement with Viacom International Media Networks, News Africa reported Dec. 15, 2018. In addition to MTN, its partner Aerial View will also have rights to air Viacom channels.

* Netflix announced the upcoming release of "Queen Sono," the streaming platform's first African original series, according to a Dec. 12, 2018, news release. The series, which will be available globally, will start production this year.

* Kwesé has introduced Kwesé Play, a streaming platform that will allow users to access content from other on-demand platforms, such as Roku Inc., Netflix and Kwesé iflix, IT Web Africa reported Dec. 7, 2018.

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