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UAE Media: COVID-19 Prompts Industry for Rapid Digital Transformation

UAE Media: COVID-19 Prompts Industry for Rapid Digital Transformation

Wednesday, June 24, 2020/ Editor -  

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 78.6% of participants consider Financial Stability as the biggest challenge for media institutions in light of COVID-19 pandemic
 Quarantine represents the greatest challenge for 92.3% of workers in media sector
 Sulaiman AlHattlan: Survey aimed at keeping abreast of the rapid changes in the media landscape.
 AlHattlan: Survey provides future insights that contribute to the development and sustainability of the media sector.
 Recommendations:  Expediting an integrated digitization process is essential
 
Dubai, UAE 24 June 2020
 
Hattlan Media, the leading public relations and media consultancy services company, commissioned the first-of-its-kind industry survey in the UAE, gathering insights from media professionals and journalists from Arab and international organizations. The survey addressed the media industry amidst the global challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and their overall impact on the industry.
 
Journalists in the print media made up 48.3% of the total survey participants, while participants working in the broadcast and digital media constituted 33.3% and 18.4%, respectively. Respondents' job positions varied between reporters and editors (39.8%), managers (21.6%), freelancers (26.1%) and presenters and producers (12.5%). 74.2% of all respondents had worked remotely during quarantine, while 25.8% worked out of their offices. 
 
The survey underlined the pandemic's major role in accelerating the digital transformation of print media institutions, which was presumably planned for a full transformation to take place over the coming years. It also highlighted the importance of upgrading digital media content within the plan to make the print editions obsolete. On the other side, respondents indicated that the main challenges they faced under these exceptional global circumstances are as follows: Difficulty to get interviews, delay in submitting material, as well as the difficulty in accessing information.
 
Figures & Percentages:
 
Regarding the shift towards digitization, 84.2% of the managers in the media sector and 82.6% of freelancers who participated in the survey believe that now is the right time for adopting and expediting digitization, especially in light of the isolation caused by the pandemic. Still 18% of total respondents see that it is still early to take this step. 
 
In terms of the general impact on the working team performance, 52.8% of respondents affirmed that the current situation did not significantly affect them or the team's work mechanism, while 47.2% felt otherwise.
 
As for the challenges faced by the media sector during the COVID-19 crisis, 78.6% of print media workers identified “financial stability” as the most pressing challenge facing the sector; especially after various media institutions resorted to budget cuts. Furthermore, 92.3% of workers in the broadcast media emphasized that “quarantine” was the biggest challenge for media institutions.
 
Moreover, 46% of survey respondents confirmed that many media organizations were affected by the budget cuts, while 33.7% were not sure that these institutions were affected by such measures. On the other hand, 60% of print media workers and 44% of digital media workers who participated in the survey believed that their institutions were subject to budget cuts; where the most affected were editors, reporters, and freelancers. 
 
40% of respondents believe that the future direction of the media industry requires a move towards the adoption of remote working as well as various other technologies. Those respondents argued for the need to deliver strong content across social media platforms. While others suggested a balanced approach between print and digital media.
 
With respect to content offered, 72.7% of respondents affirmed that there is a major shift towards providing COVID-19-centered content, especially in the broadcast media sector. 63.2% of managers taking part in the survey supported the same view.
 
Objective of the Survey: 
 
Commenting on the survey, Dr. Sulaiman AlHattlan, CEO of Hattlan Media, said: “Media is one of the most important and strategic sectors across the world, especially that it plays a major role during crises and disasters. It is only through analyzing media and the various challenges it faces; we can lay the foundation for designing a crisis-focused media plan. The industry can also play a vital role in raising awareness of the need to adhere to the instructions issued by the concerned authorities in such exceptional circumstances.”
“The survey, which saw wide participation of media professionals in various positions, aims to keep pace with the rapid changes in the industry and offer broad views that contribute to the sustainability of the media sector. It also focuses on ways to develop the sector and efforts to upgrading media content to keep up with the requirements of modern media,” added AlHattlan.
 
Furthermore, Dr. AlHattlan explained: “The need to keep abreast of the rapid developments currently taking place in the world requires us to identify the current industry trends. This was the biggest motivation for launching this major survey, which contributes to developing clear visions for the future of digital media in the UAE and the region. We hope the survey will help public relations agencies in the UAE understand how to develop content suited to current conditions.”
 
Recommendations: 
 
The research team, conducting the survey concluded the study with a set of recommendations, including: It is essential to expedite an integrated digitization process, developing mechanisms and laws governing the remote working operations, adopting alternative sources of finance to avert financial crises, as well as the progressive reduction of print media and giving greater focus to online. 

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