MBC Completes Purchase of UPI in 1992

Here's a June 28, 1992 AP story on the completion of MBC's purchase of UPI:

Middle East TV Network Purchases UPI

LONDON (AP) - Middle East Broadcasting Centre Ltd. said Sunday that it has completed the purchase of United Press International, the struggling news service it rescued from closing.

The London-based Arabic television network outbid a group of American businessmen during a bankruptcy court hearing last week in New York.

"Our goal is to continue UPI's tradition of providing objective, high-quality news on a worldwide basis. We plan to maintain the wire service as an independent entity, free from any political associations," Sheik Walid Al-Ibrahim, chairman of Middle East Broadcasting, said in a statement.

His company, the first all-Arabic TV network, paid $3.95 million in cash for UPI and says it expects to invest up to $12 million in the agency over the next two years.

Al-Ibrahim said Middle East Broadcasting would expand UPI's operations and strengthen its activities in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

"We intend to elevate UPI's technology to state of the art and reinforce its position as a competitive news-gathering organization," he said.

UPI, which has lost money for 30 years and owes creditors about $60 million, is in bankruptcy court reorganization for the second time in a decade. It once was the second-largest American news agency, behind The Associated Press.

Middle East Broadcasting said its deputy chief executive, Bob Kennedy, was in Washington on Sunday to complete the purchase and meet with UPI management.

In Washington, Steve Geimann, UPI vice president and executive editor, said the meetings would begin Monday and would last several days.

"I really don't expect any drastic changes, if changes at all, in the first several weeks, if not several months," Geimann said.

The TV company, which started in April 1991, delivers news and entertainment programs to about 12 million Arabic-speaking viewers in the Middle East and North Africa. It estimates potential viewership at 100 million and expects to broadcast to North America next year.

The network buys broadcasts from TV networks in Britain and elsewhere, adding Arabic narration and eliminating any risque activity or nudity to avoid offending Islamic sensibilities.

Al-Ibrahim, the company's principal owner, is a brother-in-law of Saudi King Fahd, who is said to have given tacit approval for the network to broadcast by satellite to Saudi Arabia, despite tight government control over the airwaves.

UPI was founded as United Press by E.W. Scripps in 1907 and merged with William Randolph Hearst's International News Service in 1958.