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AFFORDABLE TV My-HD reaches out to the masses

TECH SPECIALS •Understanding OTT •Tackling transmission

PHYSIQUE TV REDEFINED Health and fitness channel shapes up with new format and more programmes


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Whose side are you on? The big American broadcasters’ or the little upstart Aereo’s? For those of you who haven’t been following the news closely, Aereo created a stir in the US market two years ago when it took free, over-the-air TV signals and streamed them to subscribers on the internet for a small fee. More importantly, Aereo’s main tool is a tiny remote antenna that is hosted at its data centre and leased to subscribers. American broadcasters including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox have protested and sued Aereo for “copyright infringement”. Although the US federal court upheld the ruling of a lower court deeming Aereo’s service perfectly legal, the case now rests with the Supreme Court and its verdict is likely to have serious implications on content distribution, online streaming, cloud computing, ad-skipping devices and more importantly, the business of TV broadcasting itself. I asked a well-respected broadcast CTO in Dubai what he thought about this and he said the TV industry must brace itself for some serious change. “What the TV industry is going through today is what the audio industry went through a few years ago and it is inevitable,” he explained. “Content is going to be distributed over multiple platforms and newer technologies

are going to make it easier to distribute content while it makes life more difficult for traditional broadcasters.” Aereo’s model is presently restricted to the US landscape, where cable operators primarily offer channels for a fee to subscribers and pay the channels for their content. In the UK, Slingbox offers something similar, where the box is connected to the subscriber’s digital satellite receiver in the UK and content can be received and viewed remotely in any part of the world. The prime difference between Aereo and Slingbox, however, is the size of the technology, which effectively changes the dynamics of the TV market. The legal implications of using such solutions are still fairly blurred but it’s perhaps time for broadcasters to start thinking of new ways to generate money. Would the answer lie in making content free and developing other models for revenue generation?

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VIjaya Cherian, Editorial Director ISSUE 44 | FEBRUARY 2014


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AFFORDABLE TV My-HD reaches out to the masses

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in this issue FEBRUARY 2014



5 NEWS • •

Grass Valley, Phoenix 7 and BSA expand operations Arab films at the Oscars


36 Affordable pay-TV in MENA 48 Filmmaker Wassim Beydoun on the making of Ismi


30 OTT: A wild frontier 44 Overcoming OTT challenges 54 Transmission today






STOP PRESS ● Paul Wallis exits MGI to join Harris Broadcast

BSA expands operations UAE-based Broadcast Systems Arabia (BSA) has signed reseller agreements with C-Com Sat satellite systems and Elenos, a manufacturer of FM transmitters. The agreement will enable the systems integrator to sell the products of these companies in the Middle East and Pakistan. In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro ME, Irfan Gondal, CEO of BSA said: “This is our first foray into direct sales. Now we have a three-member strong dedicated sales team who will be responsible for these products that include FM transmitters and SNG equipment. Our main focus for sales will be on Libya and Syria, where we have already established a strong footing.” The company has been operating in the region especially in war-torn countries to deploy broadcast equipment and set up TV and radio stations. In the three years of its operations, this is the first time that BSA has entered a reseller agreement with a vendor. “We are expanding and this is the first step in reaching out in order to grow our business. We have more such agreements in the pipeline, which will be announced closer to CABSAT,” revealed Gondal.

UK-BASED PHOENIX 7 MULLS MIDDLE EAST ENTRY UK-based broadcast solutions provider Phoenix 7, which recently deployed its channel management system, Zeus, in Dubaibased Physique TV, is looking at expanding to the Middle East with an office in Dubai, according to a senior executive in the company. “The region has a very high concentration of TV channels and we are looking at establishing a base in Dubai,” commented Hitesh Vekaria, Director at Phoenix 7, who was in Dubai recently to oversee the Zeus installation at Physique TV. “This is a showcase project that gives us a foothold in the Middle East. “We are interested in a bigger presence in the region and Dubai seems to be a good gateway to achieve that. We are open to discussions with agents who might like to offer our solutions in the region. We also intend to have a presence here to cater to local needs,” he explained.

Phoenix 7 offers an integrated suite of products to cater to the demands of multi-platform/ multi-format TV channels. With solutions ranging from channel management, live event management to sales, resource, rights and asset management, the company offers a host bouquet of services to broadcasters. Phoenix 7, which was Hitesh Vekaria, Director, Phoenix 7. launched 12 years ago in the UK, already works with several international broadcasters,” Vekaria added. “Our heritage includes working with some of the leading names in the industry including but not limited to Sky, BBC, Carlton, Enteraction TV, BBC UK TV, Flextech, Discovery Communication, Network Centre, Channel 5, Showtime, Granada Sky Broadcasting, Carlton Digital, Travel Channel International, Sci Fi Channel, TV4 in Sweden and many more across all flavours of media,” he commented.

Media Digital Space debuts in Dubai Hassan Chahine, former CEO of Glocom, has set up a company in Dubai Media City, BroadcastPro ME can reveal. Chahine’s newly established company, Media Digital Space, offers consultancy and engineering services to broadcasters and telecom operators. The new company offers project management in technology, operations and distribution. It also claims to provide engineering and managed services to support telecom and broadcast networks going through migration phases while also helping to fill any gaps during that migration. This support includes providing new broadcast technology that can be integrated with the existing infrastructure to ensure internal efficiencies. “The broadcast and media industry in the region is going through a major phase of change that needs an external view on

how to approach that migration from a technological side and investment side; Media Digital Space offers these services,” Chahine explained. Chahine is presently working as a consultant with a number of entities including an Egyptian TV channel, a UAE-based radio channel, a satellite and telecom operator as well as an international consulting firm although he declined to provide names. “One of the projects I am working on is to bring an enhanced TV viewing experience to viewers,” he explained. “This capitalises on broadband interactive capabilities and the high penetration of free to-air, direct-to-home satellite TV in the region. It is a combined technology solution to further propel the growth of the broadcast satellite industry in the region.”

Hassan Chahine, Media Digital Space.

February 2014 | |




Peter Bale with Caroline Faraj.

CNN revamps Arabic website CNN International announced the re-launch of, its online Arabic news offering, as the website marks its 12th anniversary. The reinvented includes a range of new features providing a seamless user experience across all devices as the website embraces rapidly evolving consumer needs. At the heart of the re-launch is the new concept of responsive design. Peter Bale, VP and General Manager CNN Digital International: “The Middle East is one of the fastest growing mobile Internet markets and the ideal place for a site built around evolving news consumption habits. “As the leading international multiplatform news brand, CNN is bringing the most modern design and technology to the Arabic language market, with the new CNNArabic reflecting our ambition to be quick to embrace relevant new formats while also listening carefully to the needs of our consumers.”

Abu Dhabi Film Festival invites Sanad Fund submissions John Kjellevold, MD,

Abu Dhabi Film Festival has announced Mosart Medialab. the call for submissions for the Festival’s SANAD grant which aims to support filmmakers from the Arab world. Submissions are open from January 26 to February 28, 2014. The SANAD fund supports projects in the development or post-production phases for Arab narrative and documentary feature-length films. Each year, SANAD awards grants to Arab filmmakers in two categories: development funds of up to US$20,000 and post-production funds of up to US$60,000 per project.

Dubai-based distributor of broadcast equipment, Advanced Media, has added a new handheld 3-axis digital stabilised camera gimbal from FreeFly systems to its portfolio. With the MOVI M10, Advanced Media introduces Freefly for the first time to the UAE, adding yet another brand to the already existing stabilisers from Glidecam and Manfrotto. The MOVI M10 boasts Freefly’s proprietary high performance IMU and brushless direct drive system among other features. A key feature of the product is the Majestic Mode, which allows for a single operator to intuitively control the pointing of the gimbal by moving the handles without compromising the stabilisation of the image. The gimbal takes the operator’s movements and intelligently converts them into stabilised pan and tilt movements.The system features patent-pending translation compensation, whereby the system will automatically adjust the camera angle to maintain a consistent frame. Alaa Al Rantisi, Managing Director,

Alaa Al Rantisi, MD, Advanced Media. Advanced Media LLC said: “Freefly Movi M10 camera stabiliser is the only GPS enabled, 3-axis, digitally stabilised, handheld camera gimbal in the new world of stabilised cinematography. This is a high performance inertial measurement device interfaced with a brushless direct drive system which can replace so many other camera tools.”

MGI brings SIENNA to the region Systems integrator Media Group International (MGI) has announced a partnership agreement with Gallery SIENNA to offer its broadcast customers in the Middle East seamless integration and next generation workflow. SIENNA software offers an end-to-end digital media infrastructure for news, sports and production featuring a tightly integrated MOS connection to ENPS. The SI claims that the new partnership will bring enormous benefit to MGI’s customers by giving them easy access to the latest systems for news, sport, live event and mutli-camera television production. Mark Gilbert, CTO of Gallery SIENNA added: “We are delighted that MGI has made a strong commitment to Sienna, and MGI’s experience and reach will make Sienna accessible to a new audience in the Gulf region. Local support is fundamental to our vision, so MGI’s formally trained Sienna engineers are a welcome addition.” As well as becoming official Sienna distribution partners, MGI recently sent its Senior Solutions Architects Jim White and Tyrone Donnelly on a weeklong intensive Sienna training programme in London. The programme is designed to give MGI self-sufficiency in implementing and supporting Sienna Systems and affords MGI the Approved Sienna Systems Integrator status.

Algeria considers partial TV deregulation After years of speculation, the Algerian Parliament will vote on the audio-visual bill, which will license private sector TV channels if passed into law. Private channels will be able to broadcast their programmes through the Algerian Television Broadcasting Company (TDA) after the new legislation comes into force, so long as the channels are “established under Algerian law”.

6 | | February 2014


Harris Broadcast completes acquisition of Imagine Communications Harris Broadcast has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Imagine Communications, a digital video solutions provider. Charlie Vogt, CEO of Harris Broadcast said: “TV Everywhere is the future of our industry, and our customers are vigorously pursuing this path to expand their business models Charlie Vogt. and improve the monetisation of content across any screen. “The advanced Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) technology created by Imagine combines quality, density and a small footprint to greatly leapfrog anything else on the market today and improves transcoding economics up to a factor of 10 over competing alternatives. Our content creator and content distribution customers, including cable, MSO and telecommunications service providers, will benefit significantly from end-to-end portfolio integration that establishes a clear pathway to linear and non-linear viewing parity across every screen.”

OSN inks deal with Sundance OSN has signed a deal with AMC/Sundance Channel Global to launch a regional version of the Sundance Channel for the Middle East and North Africa. The channel of the international division of AMC Networks have been available exclusively on OSN from January 2014, offering independent feature films, world cinema, documentaries, short films, series and original programmes. The new channel is available to OSN subscribers on the Platinum HD and Premier HD packages and via OSN Play, the region’s first online TV viewing platform. It complements OSN’s existing line-up of over 135 channels, including 15 film channels and 14 entertainment/series channels offering even more premium and exclusive content choices to OSN viewers. The move will also take OSN’s total number of HD channels to 37.

GRASS VALLEY EXPANDS REGIONAL PRESENCE In an attempt to establish a stronger footprint in the Middle East, Grass Valley has made a number of announcements in the run-up to CABSAT next month. The company has announced three new hires for the Middle East operations in Dubai, which include a regional sales manager, a customer services engineer and a marketing coordinator. The names of the new recruits will be revealed later. Grass Valley is also installing a new demonstration facility in its Dubai office for customers and end users to see and experience the very latest broadcast and media technologies brought to life. The facility will be launched during CABSAT 2014, where the company will have a strong presence with a two-deck stand. To serve its Arabic-speaking customer base in the Middle Eaast and around the world, Grass Valley will launch its first Arabic web site: http://www-ar. The site will be complete with product information and video tutorials to further promote Grass Valley’s dedication to the growing broadcast market in the Middle East. Said Bacho, Senior Vice President EMEA, Grass Valley said: “2014 is an important year for us in the Middle East as we are further strengthening our regional team and investing in additional local resources to provide unrivalled opportunities for leading broadcasters in the region, especially after our very successful year in 2013 achieving double-digit growth in the Middle East.” The GV Director Nonlinear Live Production System will be introduced to the Middle

Hitesh Vekaria, Director, Phoenix 7.

Said Bacho.

East at CABSAT. GV Director integrates several features such as video switching and graphics in a single, intuitive system, and the new LDX Compact series of small footprint advanced imaging cameras. “It’s very exciting for us to participate in CABSAT 2014 because it serves as the perfect venue to introduce GV Director and our LDX Compact camera series to the Middle East region for the first time – an area where we see great potential,” added Bacho.

Dubai Moving Image Museum inaugurated Dubai Moving Image Museum was officially inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. A one-of-its-kind museum in the Middle East, it is one of the very few in the world focusing on the history of the moving image. Akram Miknas, the museum’s founder and owner, said the museum’s exhibits are original and were collected over a period of 30 years. “This museum is one of only a handful of museums in the world focusing on the history of the moving image, and is the only museum of its kind in the Middle East given Dubai’s impressive track record of being the forefront in the fields of culture and arts” he added. Charting the evolution of the moving image, from the first primitive cave drawings to the birth of the motion picture film, the museum houses Miknas’ private collection accumulated over the years. All items in the museum are original, dating back from the 1730s to the 20th century and it is located on the first floor of MCN’s Hive building, located in Tecom in Dubai.

8 | | February 2014


Bechara to lead Avid Middle East as GM

Hassan Chahine. Mounzer Bechara, GM, Avid Middle East.

Avid has promoted Mounzer Bechara to the position of General Manager for the Middle East. Bechara previous served as Sales Manager for the Middle East, supporting Avid’s growth and business development in the region. With more than 12 years of expertise in the broadcast and technology industry, Bechara will be responsible for continuing the company’s ongoing momentum and growth in the Middle Eastern market. Reporting to Christopher Brennan, Managing Director of Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Turkey, Bechara will continue to be based in Avid’s Dubai office. “The Middle East is a very important region for Avid and having the right person to ensure its continued expansion is key,” said Brennan. “I am delighted to see someone of Mounzer’s calibre take the lead in growing Avid’s footprint in the area. I am confident that his experience in the industry and knowledge of broadcasters and media organisations will generate significant opportunity for the company.” Bechara added: “I am pleased to take on this role. The region is gaining more market share and influential power, attracting international investor attention and focus.”

83% growth for MENA pay-TV by 2020: Digital TV Research A recent report by Digital TV Research has revealed that pay-TV revenues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will grow by more than 83% between 2010 and 2020 to USD 5.60bn. From the $1.490bn in pay-TV revenues to be added between 2013 and 2020, Turkey will supply $359m, Egypt $362m and Saudi Arabia $257m. Satellite TV will continue to dominate pay-TV revenues, taking two-thirds of the 2020 total (similar to the 2013 proportion). Satellite TV revenues will reach $3.74bn in 2020, up by $1bn on 2013 and nearly double the 2010 total. In terms of platforms used — and despite a transformation to IP-based video services such as over-the-top (OTT) in countries such as Qatar and the UAE beginning in 2013, satellite TV will continue to dominate pay-TV revenues, taking two-thirds of the 2020 total, similar to the 2013 proportion.

Damien Egan, Solid State Logic.

February 2014 | |


PRONEWS Al Jazeera initiatives

Al Jazeera Arabic joins Freeview Al Jazeera Arabic became the first nonEnglish language channel to launch its DTT service on the Freeview platform in the UK. Al Jazeera English became a part of the network in November last year in HD and SD. The Arabic news channel will use an MPEG4 transport stream but broadcast in SD. The channel is carried on the new digital terrestrial multiplexes awarded to Arqiva in 2013. It is estimated that by June 2014 approximately 3.2 million Freeview HD households across the UK will have access to Al Jazeera Arabic bringing its total reach in the UK to more than six million households.

Al Jazeera launches digital service in Turkey Al Jazeera has launched a new Turkish online service ahead of a full television channel launch from Istanbul. The service, known as Al Jazeera Türk, will follow its initial digital launch with a TV channel, based in Topkapi, Istanbul. The new channel will join existing Al Jazeera news services in Arabic, English, and local Balkan languages. Yaser Bishr, Executive Director, Strategy and Development at Al Jazeera said: "Al Jazeera Türk is an important new member to the Al Jazeera Network, serving a key geopolitical market. To launch on digital first continues Al Jazeera's tradition of innovation.” Initially the service will be available from the portal

Al Jazeera Sport renamed beIN Sports Al Jazeera Sport was rebranded beIN Sports on Jan 1, 2014. The rebranding indicates that the channel will now be part of beIN Sports, a global network of sports channels, jointly owned and operated by Qatari Sports Investments (an affiliate of Al Jazeera Media Networks). beIN presently operates three channels in France – beIN Sport 1, beIN Sport 2 and beIN Sport MAX – and launched two channels in the United States (English and Spanish) in August 2012. The channel also holds Canadian broadcast rights to several sports properties. beIN Sport holds the broadcast rights to several top European football leagues among others.

ICON ART PRODUCTION INVESTS IN NEW EQUIPMENT Dubai-based production and rental house, Icon Art Production (IAP), has upgraded its equipment by adding an extensive array of high-end production cameras, dollies, jibs, lights and cranes. The company has invested more than USD 2.7 million on the latest equipment. The decision to buy new equipment was based on an increase in demand for local and international production of feature films, short films, TV programmes, music videos, TV commercials and live event productions in the UAE, according to Zakir Hussain, CEO of the company. IAP invested in state-of-the-art kit last year to support seven feature films, 30 TV commercials, 10 music video and several corporate films. Hussain claims that the company was also instrumental in the production of the big-budget Bollywood film Welcome Back. “Presently, we are quite busy with that film. We will also begin work on at least two more big productions from India very soon. In fact, we are expecting to shoot 10 Indian films in 2014, with support from Dubai Film and TV Commission. This will also include an action thriller,” he added.

Zakir Hussain, CEO, Icon Art. According to Hussain, Icon Art Production offers a one-stop shop to cater to the production and post production needs of local as well as foreign producers. “With more than seven years’ experience in the industry, our team understands the requirements of the industry, based on which we design a feasible budget for any type of project to assist directors and producers,” explained Hussain.

Three Arab films nominated for Oscars DIFF opening film and Palestinian thriller Omar, directed by Hany Abu Assad, is up for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards this year. The nomination for Assad’s Omar is the second for a Palestinian film, following the nomination for Paradise Now in 2006. Omar is among the five nominees in the category that inlcudes Belgium’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, Cambodia’s The Missing Picture, Denmark’s The Hunt, and Italy’s The Great Beauty. The final five were selected from a shortlist of nine films that had been whittled down from 76 submissions. A tale of love, betrayal and struggle in the Israeli-occupied territories, Omar received the Un Certain Regard jury prize at last year’s Cannes film festival. The film won Muhr Awards for Best Film and Best Director at the tenth Dubai International Film Festival held in December last year. Egyptian film The Square has been nominated for Best Documentary. Throughout the Best Foreign Film category’s 58-year history

10 | | February 2014

The team of Omar with Director Hany Abu Assad.

(AMPAS introduced it in 1956), Egypt has never been nominated but holds the record of submitting the most films to the competition without ever getting a nomination. Directed by Jehane Noujaim, The Square won accolades at DIFF 2013, Sundance Film Festival at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. A third film from the region, Karama Has No Walls will be in the running for Best Documentary Short.

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Abu Dhabi to invest in Time Warner HQ Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, is investing alongside Singapore’s state fund GIC Pte in Time Warner Inc.’s headquarters in New York City. Reports said that the sovereign wealth fund was part of a $1.3bn deal, which is now in the final stages. The buyer, led by real estate firm Related Group, has secured money for this from Abu Dhabi and Singapore, which agreed to finance more than 80% of the purchase, it was reported in The Wall Street Journal. The deal is said to be one of the biggest in a surge of businesses involving foreign investors in US commercial real estate.

Benghazi TV deploys OASYS Chameleon OASYS Automated Playout has announced that Benghazi TV has launched a new HD channel using its integrated playout platform, Chameleon. Broadcasting on Nilesat, Benghazi TV is the first non-state channel in Libya. OASYS was commissioned to provide an integrated playout solution by UMC, Libya as part of an end-to-end tapeless workflow. Commenting on the deployment, Omar Abukhatwa of BTV said: “The nature of the channel meant that we needed a fast turnaround of content and a workflow capable of handling both SD and HD. OASYS enabled us to manage graphics and overlay features as well as the ability to edit on the fly. The provision of a redundancy system added up to a complete, costeffective solution.” Mike Kenna, Sales Director, EMEA at OASYS, said: “We are delighted to increase our installed base in Libya and thus our footprint in the Middle East with the addition of Benghazi TV.” The OASYS install was the first phase of the project; the second phase being the addition of additional infrastructure within the 500 sq m studio.


Diego Maradona. DMI has announced the launch of the first football sports reality show in the Arab world titled The Victorious. The show, which will be aired on Dubai TV and Dubai Sports channels, will scout for local football talent under the supervision of football legend and Ambassador of Dubai Sports Council, Diego Maradona. Commenting on the initiative, Ali Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Director of Dubai TV said this show offered a good opportunity for Arab talent to be known internationally. The show will be filmed in Dubai Sports City as a first logistical production. Al Rumaithi added that the new programme

will rank among the best shows in terms of the concept, preparation and production. The Victorious will also highlight the main sports features in the UAE through a series of activities and events about the participants’ training programmes. Weekly episodes will also feature the daily activities and training undertaken by professional players under the supervision of experts in health, nutrition and fitness. Each week, the show will also host an Arab or international football star, in addition to featuring a group of professional trainers and supervisors led by Diego Maradona.

MBC Hope Awards announced MBC Hope – MBC Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility arm hosted its ‘Doing Good Awards’ recently to recognise the contribution of Arabs to various fields. Five winners were picked through a careful selection by the jury comprising eminent figures in the Arab world. Engineer Hosni Al Shafei from Egypt won in the category of “Energy & Environment”. Director Merieme Addou from Morocco was awarded for her participation in a documentary called Pirates of Sella, which was a joint project with British filmmaker Rosa Rogers. Mashal Al Nahari, from Saudi Arabia, won for his project “Saudi HR Solutions”, which was based on starting up a HR company to train young people in various skills. Omar Samra, from Egypt, won the award for her contribution to humanitarian causes and MBC Hope

12 | | February 2014

The winners of MBC Hope Awards pose with the jury members.

Outstanding was awarded to Sara Shatila from AIESEC, Lebanon. Each of the winners received USD 26,666 and were also promised access to MBC Group’s media platforms to highlight their projects as well as their progress and results. Arab Idol’s Mohammad Assaf made a guest appearance at the awards ceremony to congratulate the winners.

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Nile TV appoints new head Egyptian broadcaster Nile TV International has appointed a new head after the satellite channel mistakenly televised a report on the achievements of former president Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted on July 3, 2013. Mervat Mohsen has been replaced by Samih Rajae, who now heads Nile TV as its General Manager. Mohammed Morsi is presently on trial for inciting the murder of protesters, while the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party he led, was declared a “terrorist organisation” by the Egyptian authorities in December 2013. Nile TV International, which launched in 1994, is broadcast as a terrestrial channel within Egypt, and via satellite across the Arab world, Europe and the US.

Wohler appoints new EMEA Sales Director Wohler Technologies has announced the appointment of Graham Taylor as EMEA Sales Director for the company’s monitoring product line. In this position, Taylor will be responsible for driving, managing, and expanding the company’s direct sales to customers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “Over a career spanning nearly two decades, Graham has worked with an amazing array of test and measurement equipment both as a system designer and sales manager,” said John Terrey, Vice President, Sales at Wohler. “While he has a very strong technical background and is a ‘go to’ guy for T&M projects, he also excels in working directly with customers and building valuable relationships. We’re pleased to welcome Graham to our EMEA operations.”

SYRIAN FILM HONOURED AT SUNDANCE The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2014 went to Syrian documentary Return to Homs. Directed by Talal Derki, the film chronicles the life of a national football team goalkeeper, who becomes a demonstration leader and singer, and then a fighter. Ossama, a 24-year-old renowned citizen cameraman, is critical, a pacifist, and ironic until he is detained by the regime.

DUBAI PRODUCER TAPS NANOTECH TO PREPARE AND DELIVER FILM IN 4K Dubai-based content producer Global New Age Media (GNAM) has entered into an agreement with US-based NanoTech Entertainment’s 4K Studios to convert its sci-fi thriller Mantera (Man Transformable Exo-Robotic Armour) to 4K Ultra HD. The deal includes a global distribution agreement that will see NanoTech distribute the film through UltraFlix, NanoTech’s streaming 4K Ultra HD service. UltraFlix will deliver the film at four times the resolution of full HD on a variety of devices including NanoTech’s Nuvola NP-1 4K Ultra HD streaming media player. Nuvola NP-1, which debuted at the International CES show last month, is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 4 and can stream 4K UltraHD movies such as the film Mantera. The NP-1 can also stream videos in HD, SD and 3D formats as well as 4K.  With streaming capabilities, users don’t have to wait for downloads or use up the capacity of their drives to store large files. First released in 2012, Mantera was

filmed in Dubai, Moscow and Kuala Lumpur, giving it broad international appeal. The action-packed film combines CGI (computer-generated imagery) and live action to tell the story of a brave young man who saves Mantera from falling into the wrong hands. “By working with 4K Studios to convert Mantera to 4K Ultra HD, we’re providing viewers with a new and more exciting entertainment experience,” Fayez Sabbagh, Chairman of GNAM said. “Mantera combines CGI and live action; and when we saw a preview of the film that was converted to 4K, the results were amazing. There’s just no comparison between CGI HD and CGI Ultra HD.” Speaking about why 4K Studio’s conversion process doesn’t just involve up-scaling, Alexander “LX” Rudis, Vice President of Development at NanoTech said: “Upscaled content is muddy and full of artifacts. It’s just not acceptable for consumers who pay for and expect the true 4K resolution experience.”

Lebanese production house chooses Argosy for OB truck UK-based infrastructure solutions provider, Argosy, recently supplied most of the cables, racks, patch panels and other infrastructure required to kit out the first High Definition (HD) Outside Broadcast (OB) truck in Lebanon. The new truck, built by Lebanon-based broadcast production company Hedgehog, is designed to cover the complete range of sporting and cultural events, and is equipped with 14 Grass Valley cameras and a sophisticated 240-channel Calrec digital audio console. The truck required reels of ruggedised triax camera cables, and multi-core and digital audio cables to be rigged as required. Argosy provided most of the cables and connectors for the internal wiring, along with patch panels and cords, as well as the power distribution units for each rack. As with any OB design, the engineers needed to balance minimising the weight of the installation with absolute reliability. George Moufarrej, CEO of Hedgehog said:

“Argosy has one of the broadest portfolio of the ‘right’ products — many of which have been used in our latest HD OB production vehicle. The team at Argosy also understands our business and delivers the highest quality products in the shortest possible time to meet our time-critical roll out requirements.” Argosy engineers were able to provide expert advice on the optimum choices of matched cables and connectors, as well as delivering the location cable reels ready to go. All the material that was supplied by Argosy came direct from the company’s Middle East distribution centre in Dubai. “Our customers look to us as a one-stop shop for projects like this,” said Mike Purnell, director of Argosy. “We can work with the systems engineers to ensure that all the requirements are covered, with the right materials and the right quantities. This is a great new outside broadcast unit: we are proud to have played our part in it and we wish the team at Hedgehog great success.”

February 2014 | |



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Doug Sheer.

People power

Our industry not only rises and falls on efficiency but also on savvy management, good content and quality engineering. In that regard, a trained and experienced workforce is essential for its growth A large number of the technological innovations being promoted in our industry today involve the elimination of jobs and are purposefully promoted that way. But, what’s wrong with creating professional jobs and sustaining a class of experienced and savvy broadcasting and production professionals? Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon has recently begun to promote the concept of using robotic drones to deliver packages to the doors of customers, thereby potentially eliminating FedEx, UPS or the postal system. Setting aside the futuristic wonder of such an approach, what does it say about the elimination of a paid workforce that can then afford to buy the products that Amazon is selling? So, I am taking the unfashionable, perhaps radical, position that we need employment to sustain society and in turn pay for the technology we want. While there are many benefits from doing things cheaper, where does real quality come in? My point is does anyone stop to consider the full impact of innovation? The industry panicked in 2008 and the ensuing years and cut itself to the bone, starting with a massive downsizing. One of the least attractive aspects of the worldwide recession was the veritable bloodletting in reducing the professional ranks it stimulated. But, unlike many previous recessions where a policy of ‘last in, first out’ was typical, this recession saw the greatest cuts among middle to upper level managers. Why?

They made more money and accounted for use of greater benefits. So, as networks made hundreds, sometimes thousands of experienced workers redundant, they didn’t spare the managers. Cuts to news divisions were particularly severe. Those cuts are still occurring, particularly in Europe. One really negative, and shortsighted result has been an extreme reduction in investigative journalism. The careers of an entire generation of younger would-be media professionals, often fresh from university, have been effectively put on hold. In fact, many young people have steered away from the very idea of a career in any form of journalism or media, except for blogging or social media and there the competition is frighteningly cutthroat. It is not a pretty picture for those starting out. I suggest it is time for the industry to call a halt to putting innovation before people and thereby acknowledge the importance of people power. Where to begin? How about acknowledging that it takes trained and experienced people, not robots or drones, to run stations and facilities? Even when those facilities are highly automated, they still require helping human minds, hands and eyes. So, I submit that it would be refreshing to plan for accommodating the concept of employment and using competent managers for the stewardship of media operations. Companies can sponsor students through endowed scholarships and offer paid internships. Generally, the

industry should foster the employment of both younger and more mature and experienced professional men and women with the target of rebuilding capabilities by expanding employment. Recent decades have seen the arrival and absorption of automation, robotic cameras, virtual imaging, etc. Yes, some of these have been quite beneficial and I would agree that there is no going back. However, as we embrace more innovations, let’s consider their impact on jobs. Our industry not only rises and falls on efficiency but also on savvy management, good content and quality engineering. In that regard, a trained and experienced workforce is an essential tool, reflects good technology policy and is a sign of good governance. So, I suggest the question at hand as the industry builds back, is not merely whether something can be done more cheaply, or even seemingly more efficiently, but whether or not that is even desirable in the first place if it threatens jobs. My thesis is that profits should be balanced with the need for and the desire to maintain good people. People invented and developed the industry and people will keep it innovating and growing. PRO

Douglas I. Sheer is CEO and Chief Analyst of D.I.S. Consulting Corporation headquartered in Woodstock, NY.

February 2014 | |



“The channel’s infrastructure is built around five pillars namely the Oasys Chameleon automated playout, a Phoenix7 Zeus channel management system, QNAP storage, Adobe editing systems and One Connxt’s content delivery system” Alan Constant, Technical Consultant, Physique TV

18 | | February 2014


Physique TV shapes up! Physique TV, which claims to be the MENA region’s first health and fitness channel, underwent a significant revamp in terms of both format and content under its new management team. Vibhuti Arora takes a tour of the channel’s new facility

Dubai-based health and fitness channel Physique TV was officially launched in December 2013, promising a host of healthy lifestyle programmes and fitness-oriented reality TV. In existence since 2009, the channel was overhauled last year with brand new kit and a newly appointed team to run it. Starlight General Trading, a company dealing in health products and other commodities, is the main investor in the channel. It was a natural progression for the company to launch a health and fitness channel to further its growth in the region. The Farsi-speaking audience was the prime market of interest for the channel when it was initially launched in 2009. In March 2013, however, the channel refocused its business to target the Middle East. It was also migrated from Hotbird, from where it was previously beamed, to Arabsat. Physique TV is now available on the My-HD platform as well as through Du (CH 412) and E- Life (CH 577) networks. The channel transmits HD 1080i with both English and Arabic sound tracks along with Arabic DVB subtitling. Peter Einstein, General Manager of Physique TV, says that the launch of Top left: Alan Constant, Technical Consultant, Physique TV. Left: Physique TV's gym studio. Right: Peter Einstein, General Manager, Physique TV.

February 2014 | |



a fitness channel is a step in the right direction to combat the surge of obesity and lifestyle diseases in the region. “The idea is to inculcate a culture of healthy living in the region. Physique TV fills a major gap in that area as the region lacked a dedicated channel that caters to such needs. Companies and products encouraging health and fitness are our partners in launching region-wide campaigns to promote healthy living. In fact, a number of banks and insurance companies have also shown interest as potential advertisers on the channel,” he adds. The channel has been patronised by entities such as Dubai Municipality to support healthy lifestyle campaigns. Physique TV’s programming includes a variety of entertaining, inspiring, instructional and informative shows to keep the viewers engaged. “We produce about 25% of our content in-house with our own production team,” explains Einstein. “The rest of it is acquired. We

have close to 600 hours of content available at present. The production team has eight members including the cameramen and technical crew. Our production unit includes two studios with a 2500 sq. ft gym studio,” he adds. The massive gym studio is a first-ofits-kind in the region, which was purpose built for the channel. This studio will be kitted further to enable live broadcast. “Our mantra for the channel is ‘be your best’. In order to keep the viewers engaged, we offer a good balance in terms of content including entertainment shows and dramas, alongside instructional programmes. The local content is carefully planned with gym and spa reviews in English and Arabic,” explains Einstein. “Technically, we are very sound with a brand new channel management system that can accommodate any type of sponsorship opportunity. We provide advertisers with a diverse array of partnership options, including product integration into the programmes that are produced in-house,” he adds.

Transmission and playout Alan Constant, who led the technical upgrade at Physique TV, says the channel was revamped from SD to a state-of-the-art full HD facility with renewed programming. “The channel’s infrastructure is built around five pillars, namely the Oasys Chameleon automated playout, a Phoenix7 Zeus channel management system, QNAP storage, Adobe Adobe Premier CS6 editing suites and One Connxt’s content delivery system. The content is delivered to the station on flash drives or via our FTP site,” explains Constant. At the heart of Physique TV's transmission lies the Oasys Chameleon automated playout, which has been integrated with Zeus channel management system from Phoenix 7, a UK-based company. Oasys deployed a multiplex solution for Physique TV that encompasses one video channel, two audio channels, DVB subtitling, graphics and conversion to ASI. The ASI is sent over a fibre



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PROCOVER From left to right: The editing room; Oasys Chameleon installation at Physique TV headquarters in Dubai.

“Our mantra for the channel is ‘be your best’. In order to keep the viewers engaged, we offer a good balance in terms of content including entertainment shows and dramas alongside instructional programmes” Peter Einstein, General Manager, Physique TV

channel link, and reconverted at the transmission facility for up-linking. Prior to the revamp, Physique TV used to be played out from Italy over Hotbird. The acquired content in the previous setup was in MPEG2, SD as very highly compressed files as opposed to the HD MPEG4 format it uses now. Oasys Chameleon consolidates relevant software into a single optimal configuration for a variety of channel playout requirements. Using proprietary software, the Chameleon setup adapts to the broadcast workflow environment in which it is deployed to ensure that operating parameters for that specific environment are seamlessly configured. “We chose the playout transmission equipment with most of the options including high-powered graphics and automatic twitter feeds among other

features. It’s transmission in a box, an all-in-one unit. This enhanced the internal production and upgraded the backbone from a semi-professional 1G to 10G broadcast solution,” adds Constant. Chameleon, as one integrated playout solution, replaces the need to engage with multiple vendors. Oasys servers can be quickly reconfigured and Chameleon can be adapted to fit broadcast workflows as they change and evolve. “Presently, we don’t have a fibre link between our headquarters in Oud Metha, Dubai and the uplink site in Tas (near Sharjah, about 50km from Dubai). Owing to this, the workflow had to be changed to allow us to operate and manage the playout in Dubai before onward transmission to their new distribution uplink at Tas,” explains Constant. The Chameleon system was adapted

Peter Einstein, Partner and General Manager, Physique TV Peter Einstein was the founding President and CEO of Showtime Arabia (now OSN), a direct-tohome, digital satellite pay-TV service for the Middle East/North Africa owned by Viacom, Inc and The Kuwait Investment Project Company. For 10 years, Einstein had overall responsibility for platform strategy, development and operations. He oversaw the successful growth of the company from start-up to profit with turnover of $250 million and over 600 employees serving 16 territories across the MENA region. Einstein is the Founder and Managing Partner of Eclipse Media Group, Inc. a firm specialising in advisory and operational expertise in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector. He is also Chairman of the Board and non executive Director of GINX TV (www.ginx. tv) a TV channel/internet portal targeting the lucrative video gaming consumer and is distributed globally. He has worked in an advisory capacity for a number of Media/Technology companies across the MENA region including Rotana Media Group, Doha Film Institute (DFI) and The Lebanese Broadcast Corporation (LBC). He is also a sworn “Expert” to the civil court of Abu Dhabi, UAE providing mediation and conflict resolution services for Media and Technology litigation.

22 | | February 2014

PROCOVER to make room for the altered workflow. When the parameters changed during the implementation period, the automated playout had to be adjusted to the configurations of the systems very quickly to meet the new requirements of the channel.

The workflow All material is ingested into Chameleon, where it is converted to Physique TV’s in-house standard of MXFOP1a XDCAM. Once ingested, the Zeus system automatically detects that the material has been ingested and updates the media database. “Zeus was deployed because of its ability to automatically update the media files and generate work lists. The work lists are used to prioritise the schedule of individual processes,” explains Constant. As the dubbing and subtitling of the content is outsourced at the ingest stage, a low resolution version of the content file is created and sent to the audio dubbing and subtitling company. In the present setup, one cannot switch off the subtitling but once the fibre goes live, the channel will have that option as well. When the subtitling PAC file arrives back, the media is married and readied for quality control (QC) for compliance. Zeus automatically detects that the file has been checked for compliance and again, updates the media library. Post QC, the editing is done with Adobe editor. The three Adobe editing systems are connected to the QNAP storage and are used for promo production, which is undertaken in-house. The final stage includes technical quality check. This is required to ensure that the English, Arabic sound tracks along with the PAC file are present. Only programmes that do not have an Arabic sound track are subtitled. At every stage, Zeus automatically detects that the process has been completed and updates the media library. It archives this by interrogating the QNAP file directory. Subsequently, the content is pushed into the OASYS Chameleon transmission system manually. It was a Physique TV security requirement that this was a manual process. It would have been easy for the system to have automatically

Alan Constant, CTO, Constant Consulting An industry veteran, Alan Constant has worked in the television industry for more than forty years. He is widely respected as an industry authority in most major broadcast, distribution and media production areas, and has worked in both managerial and technical design capacity on satellite, terrestrial and cable TV networks, combining a strategic insight with a practical understanding of the technologies involved. He has been a senior technical and commercial manager of a number of prominent broadcast organisations, including Sky, Showtime and AMC. Recently, he was responsible for the project and product management, and much of the technical design of a major internet/satellite TV system, which incorporated VOD, NVOD, download and play, and hybrid technologies. Although broadly based, his particular interest has been in the assessment and implementation of CA systems from a wide variety of vendors, and is now actively applying this expertise to the growing problem of content security for OTT and IP networks.

loaded it, according to Constant. Zeus then downloads the playlist into Chameleon, which checks its media library and plays out the content. “The complete broadcast chain consisting of ingest, QC, scheduling ad insertion and playout takes three people to operate. The system has proved to be so reliable that it is left unmanned during the night and on weekends,” adds Constant. Chameleon outputs an ASI signal containing the video, dual language audio and DVB subtitling. The ASI signal is delivered to the Tas uplink site using the One Connxt delivery system (for now). One Connxt offers an end-to-end HD/ SD content distribution service that provides high quality live and recorded video programming virtually anywhere in the world using IP solutions. Although it is more commonly used for live feeds, especially in the transmission of live sport, One Connxt has been used to transmit Physique TV without degradation quite successfully for the past several months. One Connxt was chosen as a shortterm solution in the absence of a fibre link between the channel headquarters and the uplink facility, explains Constant. “Once the fibre is in place, we will stop using One Connxt for our

24 | | February 2014

“Once the fibre is in place, we will stop using One Connxt for our main broadcast path but will use it for our live content. The plan, next year, is to have live contributions from our studios as well as other gyms from around the UAE” Alan Constant, Technical Consultant, Physique TV

Clockwise from top: Physique TV's studio; the fibre link from the Physique TV HQ in Dubai; an edit suite; and QNAP file directory connected to live edit suites.

The workflow • Main and backup playout servers which play out SDI for local monitoring in Dubai, simulcast IP output of Video and audio, and a separate IP stream of DVB subtitles. • The playout servers run playlists consisting of video files with multi-language audio, live sources, graphics, and branding and subtitles. • The IP output of A/V and subtitles goes to an OASYS UDP router for automated failover between main and backup, if required. • The output of the UDP router goes to a Dektec mux where it is converted to ASI. • The ASI feed to be connected to an ASI over fibre link (yet to be established) from Dubai to Sharjah, where it is uplinked.

main broadcast path but will use it for live content. The plan, next year, is to have live contributions from our studios and other gyms from around the UAE,” adds Constant. For live contributions, the channel will require an IP delivery system to get the signals back to the studio. This will be enabled with the portable One Connxt system on location. The in-house programmes are shot either at Physique TV’s purposebuilt studio and gym located several miles from the transmission facility or at various locations in and around Dubai. The studios are equipped with flyaway kits, which are used for shooting at other locations as well. “Our location production uses up to three HD cameras. We record the output of each camera on to flash drives and edit them back in Physique TV's facilities,” says Constant. Physique TV is in the process of upgrading its key kit, which, at present, comprises five Sony DR-Z7E cameras and a good collection of lighting equipment. The systems and the facility are both

28 | | February 2014

scalable. There is a central storage system to handle files coming from post production, which can cater for multiple channels if required. To add more channels, Physique TV must add a new playout server for each channel, and backup can either be dedicated playout servers, or shared servers. The channel is presently using some of the simplified graphics processes for branding, but will be expanding its use to include more complex features including now/next promotions, end credit squeeze backs, and other metadata-based graphics.

The road ahead Since its official launch, the channel has been vying for advertising opportunities. For advertisements, the channel is available to any brand that would like to associate itself with healthy living and active lifestyle. Du and Blackberry have come on board as the first advertisers for the channel. Einstein concludes by saying that even small steps can lead to a big change in terms of health which is what the channel aims to achieve. PRO

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OTT: The wild frontier

OTT offers innumerable opportunities that also come with a host of challenges. With more viewers taking to the second and third screens, broadcasters want to grab a share of the OTT pie while they still can but many of them don’t know how 30 | | February 2014

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Anyone who has owned a cat or studied cat behaviour has probably noticed how they like to sit on a newspaper you are reading, or on a book you have on your lap. When the cat hops up and sits there, it’s because it wants to be right where your attention is strongest. The cat is now where the OTT provider wants to be. Several recent surveys have declared that a large number of television viewers spend a lot of their viewing time with another device on their laps – a tablet or a smartphone. Is this because the interaction with these devices is more involving than the essentially passive experience of television? Whatever the reason, broadcasters want to grab that focused attention and they do it with OTT services. OTT is a wild frontier. Everyone wants to grab some of the territory while they still can, and nobody knows yet what is the best way to do it. Existing broadcasters may try to use OTT to reinforce their TV brand by offering live and on-demand access to their content, while non-broadcasting entrants like Netflix offer a complete alternative. The whole second-screen phenomenon (where the mobile device can be used to complement and extend the content being shown on TV) is another way that OTT offers potential. But there’s no predesigned template for success, which also means that the risk of failure is high. That risk is increased by the technical complexity of OTT. It’s not broadcast and it’s not IT, but a strange new hybrid of the two, with strange new pathologies that are unfamiliar to a broadcast engineer’s skillset, and to an IT technician’s. The separate components of the delivery chain

may be well understood – the satellite headends, the terrestrial networks, the IT servers – but the errors that start to arise when these components interact are not. So it’s a major challenge to the would-be OTT operators, firstly to understand that they are entering into much more complex territory than they are used to, and then to avoid being overwhelmed by the complexity. It is easy to underestimate the difficulties of constructing and operating an OTT infrastructure. Broadcast technology is a known quantity, and so is IT technology. Both have their accepted conventions and there are plenty of tools to monitor and analyse performance in each domain. But broadcast tools are only designed for broadcast signals, and IT tools are only for analysing IP traffic, and when the two domains are combined in a hybrid for OTT, the traditional tools are inadequate. If the OTT provider attempts to build a monitoring system made up of specialised broadcast and IT tools under the umbrella of a network management system, this creates inherent inefficiencies. With one set of tools for monitoring the RF signal from satellite, another set of tools for IP, and yet another for OTT, technical staff will find it difficult to get a coherent picture of behaviour across the network as a whole. Faults that develop in one part of the network may have their root cause in another part, but if the monitoring tools cannot see the other part and collate data from it, this creates an obstacle when trying to trace and rectify the fault. For most broadcasters, getting an OTT operation off the ground requires the recruitment of a new team of IT

32 | | February 2014

“For most broadcasters, getting an OTT operation off the ground requires the recruitment of a new team of IT engineers, because very few technicians understand both broadcast and IP technologies” Simen Frostad, Chairman, Bridge Technologies

b e h i n d

e v e r y

s u c c e s s

PROOTT “With the right planning, an operator can create an integration of OTT into the other services it provides, and use monitoring and analysis systems designed specifically for the hybrid environment to achieve efficiencies throughout the business” Simen Frostad, Chairman, Bridge Technologies

engineers, because very few technicians understand both broadcast and IP technologies. It’s a natural human tendency as silos of expertise tend to develop around each set of tools, at the expense of the ‘big picture’ view that the technical team should have in order to maintain the network as a whole entity. A lot of small inefficiencies added together can have a big cumulative impact on costs and performance, and this is why the design of infrastructure and the choice of monitoring tools is not just an engineering issue – it’s a boardroom issue too. Deploying a lot of heterogeneous technologies and parallel systems actually becomes a challenge to operational efficiency and a threat to business efficiency: the complexity can be overwhelming. A tight integration of the OTT services with the overall operation can help avoid this situation. By avoiding parallel systems, operators can keep costs down. By deploying a monitoring system explicitly designed for the hybrid of heterogeneous technologies required to deliver OTT, operators can create monitoring and maintenance environment, which seems coherent and transparent to the operator’s staff, who may be from either a broadcast or IT background. The range of viewing devices that an OTT operator has to support is another source of complexity. If a broadcaster is encoding content for SD and HD TV, adding an OTT service means preparing the content also for a combination of HLS (Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming), Smooth Streaming from Microsoft, and Adobe’s HDS formats. These adaptive streaming technologies share some common features but they are not identical, and as usual, when there are competing formats, there is uncertainty about which horse to back. Having to cater to multiple formats increases the cost and complexity of establishing and operating services in what is still an immature market sector. The adoption of a universal standard would do much to raise confidence and speed the development of the OTT market, and MPEG-DASH is a possible common format. In theory, a common format supported by all devices would lower the cost of establishing new services and make entry into the OTT market easier. But MPEGDASH is another new format; it is still evolving, and it is too early to say whether

34 | | February 2014

it will become the standard. In fact, a crossplatform standard is not necessarily such an appealing prospect to a well-established operator with enormous resources and a strong market position to defend. But MPEG-DASH is codec agnostic, and while the vast majority of video is currently encoded as H.264, this does mean that DASH is ready for UltraHD and hyperbitrate codecs when they are needed. The ideal approach to this issue is to achieve the maximum possible versatility by choosing technology that is readily adaptable to all current standards, and which has the architecture to allow easy updating when standards evolve. So in developing a strategy for OTT, the potential operators need to be aware that they are entering a more complex undertaking. They need to accept that by bolting together broadcast and IP, they create a third type of technical arena, a hybrid with its own challenges. With the right planning, an operator can create an integration of OTT into the other services it provides, and use monitoring and analysis systems designed specifically for the hybrid environment to achieve efficiencies throughout the business. All that complexity can be overwhelming, and in the rush to claim some of the OTT action, it’s easy to forget that complexity can be made simple with the right strategy and careful choice of appropriate tools. PRO

Simen Frostad is Chairman of Bridge Technologies.

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Affordable HD With the MENA region being the stronghold of FTA channels, pay-TV has not found much favour thus far. Cliff Nelson, CEO of MY-HD speaks about how affordable platforms can potentially change the dynamics of the pay-TV industry in the region

What is unique about the My-HD platform? My-HD is the first ultra-low pay DTH platform in the Middle East. Through My-HD, we aim to introduce HD TV to MENA households at a price anyone can afford. You buy an approved My-HD receiver such as Humax, and you get to watch the channels for one year at no extra cost and then after one year, you pay the equivalent of USD 54 each year to renew your subscription. Our model is similar to the HD Plus model in Germany. The consumer buys the HD set-top box and gets 15 HD channels with the box for a year, all of which are also available free-to-air (FTA) in SD. My-HD is already offering more than 37 HD channels as well as several exclusive SD channels, the majority of which are not available FTA. Our platform offers an extensive bouquet of encrypted satellite channels including nine MBC HD channels, two of which are exclusive to My-HD: MBC3 HD with dual Arabic and English audio as well as the newly launched MBC Plus Variety HD, which offers western content with no commercial breaks. It is the first MBC channel not available on satellite in SD FTA. What is the current reach of your subscriptions? We already have in excess of 100,000

DTH subscribers even though we are still in the soft launch phase. We believe that the premium payTV model is finite; premium pay-TV in the Middle East has a very niche audience. The existing premium platforms cater to less than 5% of the population, which hasn’t grown more and we don’t expect it to grow further. We are targeting the remaining 95% plus of the satellite households that have no pay-TV. These households can’t afford it or are not willing to pay for the premium-priced products available in the market and that’s where our product fills the gap. When we launched our first ethnic

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package, MyGMA, in April 2013, our partnership with the GMA network gave us access to two-and-a-half million overseas Filipinos in the region. You have a special offering for the Filipino population residing in the region. Do you have plans to woo the Subcontinent population also? Our Filipino ethnic package comes with three premium channels, which were previously on OSN. With regards to the business from the Subcontinent, frankly, given the massive grey pay-TV piracy penetration of Dish TV India in our region that has already been sold to up to a few million households here, it’s an extremely tough market for a legitimate Asian pay-TV platform in the Middle East to survive. How does your platform work? Which smartcards are you deploying? We have two conditional access systems from Irdeto and Conax. Our conditional access systems are based in Dubai but we uplink with Arabsat in Jordan Media City, Sama Com in Dubai, Tas in Sharjah Etisalat and more recently from Spain. We have licensed at least five manufacturers in the region to supply settop boxes via their distribution network. Our newest addition is the hard drive PVR box, which has been received very well. We offer built-in internet connectivity in some of our new licensed set-top boxes.


“One of our key strategies is to never force the consumer to do something, instead let the market do the work; customers are smart and don’t like to be forced” Cliff Nelson, CEO, My-HD

February 2014 | |


PROINTERVIEW The future of the set-top box industry is the hybrid box or smart box. A hybrid box offers satellite linear TV and is also IP enabled with Wi-Fi, providing the consumer with the best of both worlds. Video via IP/OTT will enhance the viewer’s experience. People like to watch TV at their convenience and we will adopt whatever technological tools are practical to meet the consumer’s objectives. We don’t buy the boxes ourselves but let the existing manufacturers and their respective distribution networks do what they do best. We follow a retail model, where consumers decide what they want. It is no different than what the Microsofts of the world have done with enormous success. One of our key strategies is to never force the consumer to do something, instead let the market do the work; customers are smart and don’t like to be forced. If a company is unable to provide a product people want to purchase at the right price, cheap tricks will not keep them as customers in the long run. Our boxes are not proprietary boxes; the end users are free to choose whatever channels they want to watch. Our boxes even work with the new beIN sports cards provided beIN sports allows it. We are confident that we will be able to offer premium HD channels at a value never seen before in the MENA region. This will drive sales and renewals without adopting consumer unfriendly policies. What is unique about this region? There are several, one of them being that the region has a high concentration of under-30 youth. The young generation, as we know it, is technologically adept and very well-informed and this changes the dynamics of the entertainment market to some extent. Secondly, satellite TV has one of the highest penetration levels among TV households in the world. Many households in the Middle East have multiple screens with different members of the household watching different content. Kuwait, for instance, has an average of three TVs per household and possibly more than seven screens. Top networks, MBC, Rotana, Al Nahar and MTV Lebanon rank among the most watched channels in the region. The content in this region caters to a very diverse audience; expats in the Middle East live in large communities

The CAS room at the My-HD HQ in Dubai Media City.

and maintain their own culture, which, in turn, gives rise to the need to cater to these communities separately. That said, we are lucky that the overwhelming dominance of one common language and similar religious beliefs across this vast and complex region simplifies our business a bit as compared to Europe’s vast diversity.

“The existing premium platforms cater to less than 5% of the population. That hasn’t grown more and we don’t expect it to grow further” Cliff Nelson, CEO, My-HD

How is My-HD translating the unique factors of this market to its advantage? Television is a hugely popular medium of entertainment in the region, not to mention in the world. Most MENA households have large families as the culture promotes multi-generational families, which means that there is a lot of demand for television in the house. The demand is often for three different generations with different age-groups watching different content. Through our large selection of channels, we are trying to cater to that demand. There are gaps in the market that need to be addressed. For instance, out of the approximately 40 million DTH households, only about 400,000 have an electronic

February 2014 | |


PROINTERVIEW programming guide (EPG). How are the rest of them supposed to navigate through the thousands of channels or even 50? People watch TV in a relaxed mode and don’t want to be struggling with what to watch. Spending 15-30 minutes just to find something interesting to watch via surfing, is not rational. My-HD is readying an EPG, which will be available to our customers at no extra cost. We often hear about the demise of satellite with IPTV taking over. Do you see that happening any time soon? Satellite will be around for a very long time. We are witnessing new developments where Arabsat will become the hotspot for HDTV in the region. Satellite is still the most effective way to deliver bandwidth hungry HD channels to the mass market and even in Europe and the U.S. where internet speeds are superb. Of course, IP OTT delivering video content will continue its aggressive growth path as well. In the present scenario, satellite is definitely more affordable and reliable than IP for HD delivery. HD content is big with six to 12 Mbps a sec. Per channel, it consumes a lot of bandwidth, and most of the countries in this region don’t offer that kind of bandwidth via IP. I am not aware of any telco that wishes to clog its network with a lot of OTT video content and unnecessarily invest billions in expanding its infrastructure to cope with it. Hybrid boxes are just entering the arena. We will be introducing the easyto-set-up hybrid boxes this year – ‘MyHD Smart Boxes’. With the increasing use of multi-screens, bandwidth issues are bound to arise. If I were a telco, I would be encouraging hybrid boxes to ease the pressure on the bandwidth of linear video services that consume my precious fibre capacity.

“TV is almost like the wall paper now, viewers engage themselves with multiple screens while TV plays in the background” Cliff Nelson, CEO, My-HD

What is your view on 4K and higher resolution TV? At present, 4K is being driven by TV manufacturers. People were sceptical about HD when it was newly launched and asked if they really needed it. Today, however, it’s a different story. HD is almost everywhere now and most of us would agree that even higher resolution TV is on the cards. Having said that, it’s still early days for 4K and I would give it at least five to 10 years before becoming a

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mass market proposition in the form of 4K channels. Eventually, 4K might just end up as a niche, catering to specific genres of broadcasting such as live sport. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sports channel launch the first 4K feed in the MENA region within a year. What’s new on the cards for My-HD? In addition to a seven-day full EPG as well as catchup TV service for most of our channels, we are developing our rewind EPG service, powered by Selevision. These services will come free with the hybrid boxes, ‘My HD approved Smart boxes’. Although our core markets are the Gulf countries, we are also targeting Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and hope to be able to offer Egyptians our package as well. We will be launching three exclusive channels with Rotana soon. We are also in the process of signing exclusive deals for HD content with Al Nahar and MTV Lebanon. All of our channels are on Arabsat with whom we have an excellent relationship. Arabsat recently concluded a strategic alliance with the Qatari Satellite operator Es’hailSat, which is co-located with Arabsat. It is in the process of launching all beIN Sports' (formerly Al Jazeera Sport) existing HD and new HD channels on that platform. How do you see the road ahead for TV, especially pay-TV? Trade pundits had predicted the end of linear TV some time ago but that never happened. Linear TV is stronger today, with more channels being launched than ever before. One can’t help but think that TV is almost like the wall paper now, viewers engage themselves with multiple screens while TV plays in the background. The viewer multitasks focusing on whatever screen provides the most stimulating entertainment. It’s going to be a very long and exciting journey. With the market evolving so quickly, we are expecting many new developments in the near future. We will be involved in some of those directly and some indirectly. I would love to expand further but due to recent predatory practices by self-perceived competitors, it is prudent to abstain until we are ready to launch such services. PRO

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The OTT challenge With an increasing consumer appetite for OTT services, broadcasters face numerous challenges to deliver uncompromised picture quality. Here’s a look at some of the challenges of OTT delivery and ways to overcome them

By now, broadcasters and media enterprises everywhere are grappling with one of the hottest industry trends of the decade — delivery of high-quality HD content over IP networks to a wide range of user devices and platforms. This is the essence of over-the-top (OTT) video services, and it’s creating daunting challenges for broadcasters whose infrastructures are steeped in more traditional, linear content delivery. Building a successful framework for delivering the OTT and multi-platform services of today and tomorrow boils down to bandwidth: how to conserve it and control network costs, but without compromising the consistently high HD picture quality that discerning viewers expect. With new formats such as ultra high-definition (UHD) on the horizon, operators will have to tackle the bandwidth question and readily embrace new compression codecs as they become available. One such standard is High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), the successor to today’s state-of-the-art H.264/ MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC). For the most part, HEVC-compatible products are still in development, but they offer strong potential for the next generation 4K distribution networks that will be required for UHD delivery. In fact, HEVC tests have already shown that the new codec can deliver a bit-rate reduction of up to 50% over H.264.

The market opportunity It behooves the operators to develop an effective strategy for multi-screen delivery, and to do it quickly. Consumer demand will

only grow stronger for content that can be accessed on a galaxy of user devices from gaming consoles to smartphones and tablets, PCs and smart TVs. For operators who can latch on to these new paradigms quickly and cost-effectively, the rewards will be great: access to lucrative new audiences such as younger viewers, reduced churn in pay-TV services, and increased revenue streams through more

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targeted advertising. However, OTT can only deliver on its promise if it can operate as an extension of conventional broadcast television. Operators must be able to provide the same quality levels and viewing experience that people are accustomed to on their home TVs, including HD resolutions, support for multiple languages and subtitles, and a consistent graphical user interface.

PROTECH “Advanced encoding technologies will be a must for media enterprises as they begin to embrace HEVC for next generation OTT delivery. In order to help broadcasters realise the maximum potential of their OTT services, encoding/transcoding solutions should include several key attributes” Alain Pellen, Marketing Manager, IPTV & OTT Markets, Thomson Video Networks

OTT barriers In order to reach the widest audience, OTT services must support every possible platform. This requires supporting the full range of adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming technologies including HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and smooth streaming for mobile phones and tablets as well as PC, Mac, and Linux browsers. At present, operators must reserve enough bandwidth to accommodate each ABR protocol variation. That will change, however with the emergence of the Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) standard. Also known as MPEG-DASH, this standard offers great potential for harmonising high-quality ABR content streaming while reducing network storage costs and bandwidth requirements. OTT delivery will be greatly simplified as more device manufacturers embrace MPEG-DASH. Another barrier to OTT delivery is its unicast, point-to-point distribution mechanism, a stark contrast to traditional broadcasting that uses a multicast workflow to send a single stream to many viewers. Since every 1,000 viewers represents 1,000 streams, unicast delivery presents obvious bandwidth challenges as the number of users multiplies. Largescale OTT providers that rely on content distribution networks (CDNs) to deliver their services over the open internet suffer the most from these inefficiencies, since most CDN providers base their fees on user volume. This especially affects nonsubscription, pay-per-view OTT services: the more popular they become, the more expensive and less profitable they are to operate unless bandwidth usage is somehow reduced. The answer here is HEVC compression, since it will enable operators to send the same streams using half the bandwidth. OTT will not only become more profitable but the picture quality will be able to keep pace with consumers’ ever evolving expectations.

Encoding for today and tomorrow Advanced encoding technologies will be a must for media enterprises as they begin to embrace HEVC for next generation OTT delivery. In order to help broadcasters realise the maximum potential of their OTT services, encoding/ transcoding solutions should include several key attributes. First and foremost, the encoding platform should support today’s H.264 delivery via all major ABR

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streaming formats, but also provide extensibility to accommodate HEVC, MPEG-DASH, and other emerging standards through software upgrades. In addition, the encoding solution should enable operators to approach bandwidth efficiency from two perspectives: maintaining current levels of video quality while using less bandwidth, or improving video resolution at the same bit rates. The best systems can encode live content as well as pre-recorded files for delayed streaming via services such as VOD and catch-up TV, and they provide content protection features with support for subtitles and multiple languages. Of course, the encoding solution should deliver pristine picture quality to satisfy the most discriminating viewers, and reliability is a critical factor since every second of downtime in an OTT operation represents a significant loss of revenue.

Glimpsing the UltraHD future The OTT future looks bright for broadcasters and content providers, now that chip manufacturers are beginning to introduce 4K HEVC decoder chipsets. This is driving the emergence of encoding platforms with built-in HEVC functionality, offering multi-screen video encoding/transcoding system. Since HEVC will allow operators to send the same streams using half the bandwidth, OTT will not only become a more profitable venture but the picture quality will be able to keep pace with consumers’ ever-evolving expectations as UHD delivery appears on the horizon. With such technology advances, widespread commercial adoption of HEVC and UHD delivery over 4K networks is on its way. Soon, we’ll see HD and UHD content delivery on any type of device and network – especially when HEVC is combined with exciting new technologies such as MPEG-DASH, eMBMS, and LTE. In the near term, the bandwidth savings afforded by these technologies can reduce operating expenses, while smoothing video delivery in our increasingly multi-platform world. PRO

Alain Pellen is Marketing Manager for IPTV & OTT Markets at Thomson Video Networks.

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Wassim Beydoun shooting inside a car with a thalassaemia patient, who features in Ismi.

Reaching out Dubai-based filmmaker Wassim Beydoun made a documentary on thalassaemia using a Sony NEX- FS700. In an exclusive interview with Vibhuti Arora, the filmmaker talks about his experience of working on the medical documentary

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Snapshot Writer and Director: Wassim Beydoun Camera: Sony NEX-FS700 Post Production: Adobe Premiere CC Grading: Da Vinci Resolve

live life to the fullest, to make the most of what they have,” he says. “The disorder has a taboo attached to it, which makes it worse for those suffering from it. Although things have drastically improved from what they were a decade ago, more awareness needs to be created to quell myths about the disorder, which is the reason I made this film,” he adds. Beydoun began researching the subject to make a film at the behest of a friend. He had just completed a black-and-white medical documentary about breast cancer, and had expressed a desire to make more medical documentaries. With no knowledge about the disorder, Beydoun started reading about it on the internet. To his dismay, while there was a lot of medical and scientific information about the disorder, it was hard to find what it meant to live with the disorder. “There was expansive information in medical and scientific terms but for a lay person trying to learn about the condition, there was very little available on the internet. I struggled to find more,” he says. That’s when Beydoun contacted his uncle, a pathologist in the U.S. He

“Although things have drastically improved from what they were a decade ago, more awareness needs to be created to quell myths about the disorder” Wassim Beydoun, Filmmaker

Wassim Beydoun is a filmmaker and photographer who specialises in making medical documentaries.

Ismi – My Name Is Wassim Beydoun’s Ismi – My Name is, is a documentary about thalassaemia. In his film, Beydoun pays tribute to thalassaemia patients, who live happy, wholesome lives despite the challenges they face in everyday life owing to the blood disorder. It’s a positive film according to Beydoun, who wanted to show that patients suffering from the condition can lead a normal life. “They look normal and have dreams and aspirations just like us. Most importantly, they have a passion to

February 2014 | |


PROFILMMAKER helped him get a backgrounder on the disorder and gave him better insight into what the treatment entailed. The former First lady of Lebanon, Mouna Haroui who happens to be a family friend of Beydoun advised him to contact the Ministry of Health in Dubai to tell his story. She guided Beydoun and put him in contact with the right people to approach for the film. “I got a mixed feeling, the people that I approached for the film encouraged me but did not promise any support. That stemmed from the taboo attached to the disorder. It’s a common misconception that thalassaemia patients look sickly and weak. It was also politically difficult to approach government hospitals to have access to the patients,” he says. After several months of trying, with no breakthrough in sight, Beydoun almost gave up the idea, when Haroui told him about the Shaikh Sultan Thalassaemia Awards. “She even called them up on my behalf and fixed a meeting with HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian and Scientific Foundation. “I had a meeting with the Head of Public Relations, Saeed Al Awadhi. Our meeting lasted four hours, wherein I explained

to him my vision for the film. Al Awadhi is a thalassaemia major himself and was very keen to help make the film.” After the initial hiccups, the film received the necessary support it needed and the project finally took off. Beydoun was given an official letter saying that the film was made in cooperation with HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian and Scientific Foundation. This was the moment he had been waiting for. With the story board and script in place, Beydoun approached Dubai-based distributor of broadcast equipment, Advanced Media for the equipment. Sony NEX-FS700 was the main camera he wanted to use in the film for its proven ability to shoot in slow motion. He owns a Sony DG-900, and the complimentary lenses – Zeiss 24/70 and Zeiss 85mm, which he used to shoot Ismi. “I have previously worked on ARRI, RED and FS700 and, of course, Sony DG-900 but I believe no other camera would have captured the essence of Ismi like the FS700,” he explains. According to Beydoun, the FS700’s slow motion capture was the main reason for his choice. He calls it a simple-to-

use, idiot-proof camera, which leaves little scope for error. The camera was deployed for both indoor and outdoor shooting without many additional lights. The film was to be shot around the lives of 10 Emirati thalassaemia patients who were receiving treatment in Thalassaemia Specialty Hospital in Fujairah. The film, however, did not focus on their suffering or what they had to go through at the hospital. Instead, it was about what these brave men, women and children did outside the hospital.

“There was expansive information in medical and scientific terms but for a lay person trying to learn about the condition, there was very little available on the internet” Wassim Beydoun, Filmmaker

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PROFILMMAKER The filming had to be as non-invasive as possible. It had to be a pleasant experience for those working in the film, says Beydoun. This was the reason why Beydoun shot the entire film alone. With just one camera, Audioteknic mics, and a couple LED panels, Beydoun set out to shoot. He used zoom recording, which was a good way to not let the subjects get distracted with the camera. The FS700 offered a lot of dynamic range and worked well in low-light besides being a super slow motion camera. Working with non-actors comes with its own set of challenges, says Beydoun, and it’s up to the filmmaker to make it work for the viewer. “I made friends with them first to ensure that they had a certain level of comfort when they spoke to me. They were going to bare a significant part of their lives that hadn’t been talked about earlier. I asked them what they liked doing in their free time and was quite amazed with the answers I heard. “One of the patients I interviewed is an avid swimmer, another one is a runner. I weaved a story around them and captured their activities. It was a very enriching experience for me, a life-altering one,” he comments. The shoots were conducted around a football field, swimming pool and even inside a car. “We also went to Latifa Hospital following a patient who needed a bone marrow transfusion. I shot it in blackand-white with only the blood in red.” The colour grading of the film was done using Da Vinci Resolve and the film was edited with Adobe Premier CC. The introductory music piece was done by Idris Phillips at JR Studios in Studio City. The studio belongs to Majid Hussain, who owns a recording studio and record label with Youseff Islam formally ‘Cat Stevens’, Hussain’s father-in-law. The whole documentary took the filmmaker about two months to film. He explains: “As I was working around the patients’ schedules and their treatments, I had to make myself available accordingly.” He says the camera had to be as discreet as possible for the patients to feel comfortable. “The camera was almost a part of me. I made sure, my subjects were not intimidated by it and they behaved as if they were talking to a friend,” he says.

The film was shot in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah as Beydoun followed the patients’ lives outside the medical confines of the hospital. He also had to ensure that they were calm and composed and appeared natural before the camera. There were no assistants or ancillary staff on location in order to ensure the patients had one-on-one interviews. Each of the patients, Beydoun insists made a connection with him on a human level. However, Beydoun says many people contributed to the film in their own way. Dr. Essam Dohair, Director of the Regional Collaborating Office of Thalassaemia International Federation was the medical advisor on the film. Beydoun adds that he appreciates each and every person’s contribution to the making of his film. H. E. Dr. Mahmoud Talib Al Ali, Executive Director of the Foundation, signed off and approved the co-operation of the office. “I can’t leave out Asma Obaid, Administrative Officer at the Foundation, who arranged my first meetings with Saeed and His Excellency. One more person at the Foundation, who really helped me was Niven Harab. Harab is in the Abu Dhabi Office of the Foundation that I first called to get in touch with the authority.” The film was exclusively premiered for His Highness HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan in October last year and it is due to be released in May this year to mark the World Thalassaemia Day. Beydoun plans to release the film on the internet subsequently. “I want my film to reach out to as many viewers as possible,” he says. PRO  

Beydoun filming at Latifa Hospital (l); a screenshot from Ismi showing one of the patients playing football on the field.

“It was a very enriching experience for me, a life-altering one” Wassim Beydoun, Filmmaker

February 2014 | |



Optimising digital television transmission As digitisation of television becomes more widespread, the focus is now shifting on achieving impeccable transmission. We look at some of the prerequisites for delivering quality and choice to the viewer in a cost-effective way

It is common knowledge in the broadcast industry that all television transmission will eventually move from analogue to digital, and in many parts of the world this transition has already been completed. The technologies available to achieve this are maturing, so we should now be considering how we can deliver the best viewer experience in digital transmission. We can define three fundamental requirements for

54 | | February 2014

any transmission system. The first and foremost requirement is quality. Audiences perceive digital transmission to be the route to consistently good images and audio. Wherever possible these should be available in high definition, accompanied by surround sound.

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PROTRANSMISSION “Terrestrial transmission is still hugely popular because it is relatively simple for consumers to receive through a rooftop aerial” Helge Stephansen, Senior Solution Architect, Nevion

After 60 years of analogue television, audiences also expect digital to be seamless and flowing smoothly, not beset by freezes and judders. The second requirement, which is often used as a justification for analogue switch-off, is increased choice. While maintaining our first goal of quality, we want to pack as many channels into the available bandwidth as we can. The third most important requisite is that we should do both these things cost effectively. Budgets are not expanding, so we have to find ways of delivering choice and quality without increasing operational costs. We should also remember that various delivery platforms are now in competition. Ease of use and added functionality like the ability to record on PVRs, extra data and “red button” services are also important. One critical element of usability is to include the full service information (SI) on all multiplexes. Known as cross-SI, this enables viewers to browse the electronic programme guides (EPG) on other multiplexes, while still watching their choice of programme, for example, in a picture in picture window. What follows are some suggestions of how these requirements can be achieved by optimising the implementation of DVB-T2. Terrestrial transmission is still hugely popular because it is relatively simple for consumers to receive through a rooftop aerial. Apart from extreme topographical areas – deep narrow valleys, for instance – it is practical to reach close to 100% of the population. Extra television receivers in the home can be served with no additional equipment. Typical transmission networks will have distributed hardware. Individual channels will be delivered from broadcasters to a national headend. There may be regional headends to allow for the insertion of localised content. A regional headend may feed a group of transmitters, or it could be located at a single transmitter.

Delivering the best quality signal to the headend allows the processor to be more aggressive with the delivery compression without degrading the viewer experience. We recommend using JPEG2000 compression for the circuits from broadcaster to headend to get the best quality for the bitrate. It gives you the option to squeeze harder in the headend, and thereby push through more content.

Multiplex At the headend, a number of channels are multiplexed together into a transport stream, along with other data, such as EPG information, for example. Critical to operational efficiency is to use as much of the capacity as possible, without any content packets being squeezed out. The traditional technique was to allow a significant part of the stream for stuffing packets to ensure sufficient headroom whatever happened. The result was the transmission of a large number of null packets: packets containing no data. In some systems this could result in as much as 1 Mb/s of null packets, which in a transport stream of 40 Mb/s is a big loss in efficiency and waste of available resources. We developed a technique, originally for broadcasters in the UK, which intelligently manages EPG data in the form of SI packets in the headend. It interprets the data and calculates, according to defined rules, when it must be sent and how frequently it needs repeating. EPG information for the next 24 hours will be repeated more often than information for seven days ahead, for example. An opportunistic data inserter then feeds SI information into the multiplex as soon as null packets appear. The result is a typical bitrate saving of 3 to 5% thanks to having virtually no null packets. For the JPEG2000 signal from broadcaster to headend, and for the DVB-T2 stream from the headend to the transmitters, it is now standard practice to use IP networks. This is a significant operational cost saving over dedicated

“In some territories, the cost of building out a distribution network to a relatively large number of transmitters can be significant. The alternative is to use a satellite to distribute the national signal to transmitters or to regional headends” Helge Stephansen, Senior Solution Architect, Nevion

56 | | February 2014


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“To combine this with satellite distribution is clearly a poor use of bandwidth as the common services will need to be sent multiple times. A better option is to use a deterministic multiplexing solution which can allow local insertion” Helge Stephansen, Senior Solution Architect, Nevion

video lines and a major boost to efficiency. IP networks are now extremely reliable, but the infrastructure must be carefully designed to overcome any problems which do occur. The edge devices in the DTT delivery platform must be protected against packet loss, burst loss, jitter and latency variations. The first step to overcoming these issues is through good forward error correction. SMPTE already provides guidance in FEC for transmission networks, through its 2022-1 standard. DVB-T2, which is susceptible to packet loss in the distribution network, will work well given a good implementation. To support the most challenging cases, Nevion offers an extended version of the SMPTE FEC matrix so that the terrestrial signal can safely reach the transmitter sites. For even higher resilience, some networks will consider redundant paths from the headend to the transmitter, with the receiving device selecting packets in real time from the stronger input. Broadcasters routinely use redundant paths for critical content like contribution circuits from major sporting events. In some territories, the cost of building out a distribution network to a relatively large number of transmitters can be significant. The alternative is to use a satellite to distribute the national signal to transmitters or to regional headends. The national multiplexes can be streamed over DVB-S2 and received at any number of transmitter locations. Single frequency network Digital transmission has brought about a new way of improving coverage, the single frequency network (SFN). Traditionally, neighbouring transmitters, even if broadcasting the same content, needed to be on different frequencies to eliminate interference. Where countries border each other, there needs to be international agreements to ensure that frequency allocations are clear and one country’s signals do not affect reception in another. The single frequency network, as its name suggests, puts all the transmitters in a region or a country on a single set of frequencies. It makes better use of the spectrum, and it allows the network to use many cost-effective lower power transmitters rather than a few high power transmitters. That improves coverage while reducing operational costs and releasing spectrum for

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more television and other services. The challenge for SFNs is that each transmitter must carry an identical signal and be precisely synchronised. The lack of interference comes from the fact that each transmitter is radiating exactly the same information at exactly the same instant. As long as the distance to a receiver from the SFN transmitters are within the guard interval, the beams add up and become a stronger signal. The other challenge is that broadcasters will want to insert local content into national channels. This may be regionalised advertising, or local news, or area-specific programming. Because the SFN expects the transport stream to be identical, the usual solution to local content is to combine the national and local content at a local headend. To combine this with satellite distribution is clearly a poor use of bandwidth as the common services will need to be sent multiple times. A better option is to use a deterministic multiplexing solution which can allow local insertion. This uses a time stamp in the satellite feed and a set of rules for the multiplexing process. This allows multiplexers in each region to rebuild identical streams as required for SFN operations. Each multiplexer at each transmitter site will build, packet for packet, an identical combination of national and local services. Deterministic re-multiplexing allows local content to be added to national signals without disturbing the SFN integrity of the transmission. These technologies, along with other functionality and intelligent network monitoring and management, combine to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of a digital terrestrial transmission network. Using the best of today’s technology, broadcasters and network operators can offer their audiences a broad choice of channels, in excellent technical quality and high availability, while controlling the costs of the distribution and transmission network. PRO

Helge Stephansen is a Senior Solution Architect at Nevion.



CANON TO SHOWCASE EOS AT CABSAT 2014, Canon Middle East will be directly targeting key vertical market players and engaging with them to yield future business and grow the pro-video business. Canon’s 10 m x 10 m stand will showcase an extensive range of professional video products, allowing visitor’s first-hand experience including Canon’s first 4K cinema camera. 4K cinema workshops and seminars will also be available at the Canon stand. There will be a showcase of the full range of EOS C-series including C500, C300, C100. The key USPs for these models include low light ISO, full 4K workflow solution along with AJA/CODECS for recording and Blackmagic Design for post editing and colour correction. The new range of ENG cameras including XA20/ XA25 and will also be showcased at the stand, which will clearly highlight its OIS features in addition to displaying the comprehensive range of cine lenses. Hendrik Verbrugghe, Marketing Director, Canon Middle East said: “CABSAT has cemented its position as the must-attend regional show within the industry. Our participation at this year’s show

will showcase our strongest-ever professional video line-up. The EOS C range has been developed with the needs of professionals in mind, empowering our customers to be more creative than ever before. This year, we will concentrate on educating visitors about 4K technology through dedicated seminars and also create awareness on the strength of Canon’s core technologies. Visitors to our stand will be able to sample the company’s strongest-ever professional range, underpinned by its industryrenowned expertise in broadcast lens design.” Recently, MBC ordered the flagship Canon EOS C 500, EOS C100 and XF 305. This was also followed by a deal for 10 units of EOS C300 for a major production company in Kenya. We also signed a major deal with Qatar Broadcasting company for XA series – Canon’s ENG range of cameras. Canon has already announced the availability of a new firmware update for EOS C100, EOS C300 and EOS1Dc users, which enables users to get more creative and provides them the flexibility and enhanced operability.


MORE STABILITY WITH FILMOTECHNIC Filmotechnic LLC will display its latest range of broadcast products for the first time at CABSAT. The highlight of Filmotechnic’s stand will be engineered gyrostabilised heads and mobile camera cranes. Gyrostabilised head series will feature Flight Head FH- 5, FH-Compact 3 and FH-Compact 4. FH-Apex, FH-TV, FH-XL and FH-XXL, designed and developed

for extensive use with cameras weighing between five and 30 kg as well as for 3D rigs. Also on display will be the Flight Head Mini 1, Mini 2 and Mini 3, suitable for extensive use with cameras weighing between 3.5 and 10.5 kg, for use with lighter cameras between 0.5 and 15 kg.


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ETL BUILDS THE MATRIX ETL Systems, a manufacturer of RF equipment, will showcase the Vulcan Matrix, a part of the V-Series matrix range at CABSAT. The Vulcan routers’ architecture focuses on compactness routing up to 128 inputs x 128 outputs in a single 16U chassis. Vulcan can also be used in conjunction with splitters and combiners to configure larger systems such as 128 x 256 in a 45U rack and 128 x 512 in two racks. It is designed to offer an extremely compact form factor, and compliments the Enigma range of high resilience routers. The matrix offers redundancy of some critical components and hot-swap of active parts, providing a high-performance solution to frequent signal routing changes. Along with this, ETL will be showcasing the new passive splitter/combiner component mounting system. This unit offers an easy-to-use, cost-effective, and compact mounting system for ETL’s ‘Scorpion range of passive L-band splitter/ combiner components in a 1U 19” chassis. ETL’s RF solutions have been successfully implemented at a number of sites in the Middle East. The 64x64 Vortex switch matrix/router, one of ETL’s newest additions to the V-series range, was installed to provide TV content for Al Jazeera children’s channel.



SGL IN A FLASH At CABSAT, SGL technical and commercial staff will be at hand to discuss the latest developments in archive workflows and the continued development of LTO based systems enabling ingest of material directly into the archive store. The team will explain how SGL’s notification service takes the next step by allowing details about the archived material to be automatically pushed to a MAM system, creating time and cost benefits. SGL’s open system architecture provides broadcasters, post production facilities, news and sport, with reliable, scalable solutions with substantial cost and workflow benefits. In addition to demonstrating FlashNet, FlashWeb and FlashBrowse, SGL technical and commercial staff will have details of the latest developments with the Sony ODA system. SGL FlashNet allows Sony’s scalable Optical Disc Archive users to store valuable media safely with ease. This combination opens up a world of workflow possibilities from disaster recovery solutions to management of archive material over disparate geographic areas. With SGL’s experience of managing multiple storage devices within production, news and sport, Sony’s Optical Disc Archive can sit anywhere within a workflow, not simply as an ‘end of process’ archive. The integration gives SGL users access to a greater choice of storage devices in DR, production, news and sports workflows.  Sony’s Optical Disc Archive stores data in a compact cartridge with twelve optical discs for file-based archiving.


ELENOS’ DIGITAL OFFER Elenos will be presenting the new ETG3000 Digital at CABSAT. The ETG3000 Digital comes with integrated technologies such as intelligent protection, ICEFET technology, ecosavings and Lifextender algorithms. At the CABSAT stand the company will provide information about smart, synaptic functions, reliability, ease of maintenance, planar technology, sound purity and fidelity of its products.


BLUEBELL OPTIMISES BROADCAST OFFERINGS Bluebell Opticom, a manufacturer and distributor of fibre optic transmission equipment for the broadcast, telecommunications and satellite industries, will introduce a new signal transport platform for OB and Infrastructure applications at CABSAT. With the drive to 4K and 3G systems the PW140 series from Bluebell offers a universal SDI signal transport over fibre in a compact 1RU frame. At the heart is a processor, which provides simultaneous multiplexing and de-multiplexing of the signals presented to it from the input/output cards. The initial base configuration provides six x bidirectional HD-SDI signals over two fibres or 10G Ethernet. When used with CWDM optical multiplexing 96 x HD-SDI signals can be transported over a single fibre. Bluebell will display Net Caddie, a new compact camera interface which allows HD-SDI to be injected directly into a standard network environment, bringing IP to the camera. The company will also launch an extensive range of stand-alone products, including the new BlueLite and Caddie-LB 3G, specifically designed for OB and deployable applications. Also on show will be the BC series, a complete suite of fibre optic interfaces, for all current and projected HALL 6 STAND D6-45 broadcast standards.


THE NET RACER CHARGES AHEAD ERECA, a producer of systems for signal transmission over optical fibre, will be present as part of the French pavilion at CABSAT. The company will introduce its latest NET-RACER product line with remote or steady camera transmission and powering and multiplexed HD SDI bus or ring optical transmission, among other features. For compact or mobile applications, the NET RACER COMPACT standalone chassis holds up to two transmission boards. ERECA develops new field solutions for broadcast camera transmission over optical fibre with the SToRA (Strong Racer) series, which offer the signal transmission in a ruggedised box, over hybrid cable or on optical cable, for HD, 3D and slow motion cameras.

FileCatalyst will be showcasing its suite of accelerated and managed file transfer solutions. Founded in the year 2000, the company has more than 1,000 clients with a user base of more than a million, including organisations such as NBC Sports, Travel Channel, Al Jazeera, BBC, ZEE TV, Sony Pictures, and Dreamworks. The FileCatalyst platform provides many advantages to media and broadcasting organisations over traditional file transfer methods, including the fast, reliable, secure and efficient delivery of all large format media files. As file sizes of today’s digital content continue to grow, organisations can reduce the amount of time spent waiting for files to transfers, including file delivery across geographically dispersed locations. Other FileCatalyst features tailored to the media and entertainment include the ability to transfer growing files and multi-file transfers.



GAMMA ENGINEERING DEBUTS AT CABSAT A new entrant at CABSAT, Gamma Engineering will launch the Russian arm of its operations in the Middle East. CABSAT will also be a good platform to find a distributor for Koto Bulbs, said a company spokesperson. The product showcase at Gamma Engineering’s 100m long stand will include Movix camera, helicopters and epic dragon, and a range of new lenses. There will be a demonstration of the company’s complete solution for filming cars in motion, off-road or on road, high speed action, air suspension low bed, quad, shot makers, technocranes, and aerial shots. HALL 8 STAND E8-21

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Lifting the Curtain: World Class Goes Digital.

Sennheiser Middle East Office # 345, Bldg. 6E/B Dubai Airport Free Zone P.O. Box 371004 Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4299 4004 Email:

For decades Sennheiser has been a reliable and innovative partner in broadcast and theatre. Therefore, we understand that world-class sound engineers have the highest of demands and expectations. With this firmly in mind, we took all of our extensive experience and rolled it into our first digital multi-channel wireless system. This is it and it’s in a class all by itself: DIGITAL 9000 provides uncompressed digital audio transmission, free from intermodulation, and delivers stunning sound and dynamics with a cable-like purity.

Additionally, DIGITAL 9000 offers control functions that make system setup simple and fail-safe. The highly intuitive user interface provides a complete overview of system performance offering peace of mind in challenging live situations. A pinnacle of innovation, DIGITAL 9000 is the best-inclass digital wireless system available and represents a future-proof investment. We’re lifting the curtain. You’ll get to know it. DIGITAL 9000 – The Wireless Masterpiece.

PROPRODUCTS PROxxx BAVARIAN PAVILION RETURNS TO CABSAT Bavarian Pavilion will come to CABSAT for the 12th time this year with participation from 10 companies. For the first time, the companies will be exhibiting at two different locations. • Teracue – a company offering consulting, engineering and training services for professional video, IPTV and video-networking • AVT – a manufacturer of audio codecs for IP, ISDN, X.21 and E1 (2-Mbit/s) networks • BEBOB – a maker of power broad range of batteries, chargers, hot swap adapters – li-ion and li-manganese • Citycom – a satellite reception system for Sat-IFdistribution • KATHREIN-Werke KG – a developer of wide range of products for antenna systems, signal processing, distribution, and measurement • Rosenberger OSI – a provider of fibre optic system solutions • MAYAH Communications – a German codec manufacturer • IB/E OPTICS – a producer of optics in the area of industry, medicine and cinema • Band Pro Munich GmbH – a full service provider for audio, video and media technology • WALSER GmbH & Co. KG – an international brand product supplier for photography and video accessories for beginners and professionals

TERACUE OFFERS HD STREAMING ENCODER IPTV and end-to-end video streaming systems provider, Teracue AG has added recording and RTSP/ RTMP support for the ENC-300 HD/SD real-time broadcast quality encoder family. Teracue’s H.264 encoders and decoders support the broadcast industry standard Pro-MPEG FEC, which allows for FEC ‘Forward Error Correction’ transmission to enable failure-free video IP contribution and internet streaming, even if the network and IP connectivity is not perfect. The ENC-300 encoder series offers real-time HD/SD-SDI H.264 encoding for continuous 24/7 operation – due to its rock-solid layout without any moving parts. The units are designed, assembled and supported in Germany”. The ENC-300 encoder model is available with DVI/HDMI or HD-SDI/VGA/ analogue inputs, and can also support multiple RTSP output streams for delivering live video feeds at the same time to multiple receiving locations.


CUSTOM CONSOLES IMPROVE ERGONOMICS Custom Consoles will launch its low-cost flat-pack technical furniture for the first time to the Middle East market at CABSAT. The EditOne desk incorporates three equipment pods with a collective nine units of rack space. These form the base of a monitor shelf with full cable management and optional power distribution. An auxiliary equipment pedestal with an additional nine units of rack space and an integral worktop is also being introduced.  Front and rear corners at the desk and auxiliary pedestal are curved, eliminating any possibility of collision with sharp protrusions and contributing to the ultra-modern appearance. The worktop and monitor base also have hard-wearing and operator-friendly curved edges at front, sides and rear. Finish is in oak with contrasting black powder-coated MDF.  All furniture in the EditOne range can be shipped in compact flat-pack form for onsite assembly by customers or systems integrators, saving space, cost and delivery time. HALL 6 STAND C6-33

TELESPAZIO COMES TO CABSAT Telespazio, a satellite communications company, will showcase its solutions at CABSAT. The company manages one of the largest teleports, Italy’s Fucino E/S equipped with over 100 antennas and 83°W to 57°East visibility. Its teleport network extends to Lario and Scanzano in Italy, Romania for Eastern European coverage, Brazil and Argentina. Since 1960, Telespazio has supported the evolving TV and radio broadcasting sector, providing tailor-made solutions on all major satellite orbital positions. Telespazio broadcasts TV channels over Europe, the MENA region, North and South America and Asia. It brings content via satellite through a secure international fibre network (with international points of presence all over the world), and playout systems. The company operates several multiplexers on the Eutelsat 13° East satellite received by over 120 million households in Central/Eastern Europe and the MENA region. It offers services in both DVB-S and DVB-S2, offering low price, channel broadcasting, as well as over the Astra 19,2° East orbital position, mostly for Northern Europe. Telespazio provides services at -7° West, focusing on the MENA region, as well as on the Galaxy 19 (North America) and Intelsat 21 (North and South America) for cable distribution. Telespazio provides encoding for MPEG-2 or MPEG-4, SD or HD, encryption services and play-

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Fucino Space Centre.

out, as well as OTT multi-device content distribution. The company delivers key Mobile Satellite Services, including Inmarsat BGAN, Thuraya, and Iridium. It provides worldwide connectivity for both voice and broadband data. Telespazio’s main reference customers include: Al Jazeera Satellite Network, RAI Radiotelevisone Italiana, Sky Italia, and Mediaset.





NUGEN Audio launches Stereopack NUGEN Audio, a creator of tools for audio professionals, has launched Stereopack, a complete toolset for stereo image enhancement and manipulation including expansion, positioning, and low-frequency control. Stereopack is designed to offer maximum flexibility in a highly accessible and configurable combination of powerful tools. With Stereopack, users can naturally widen or reduce the stereo image, focus and define low

frequencies, and move specific captured spectra within the stereo soundfield. Each Stereopack component integrates advanced audio analysis feedback directly into the user interface, delivering intuitive control of all main parameters with clear and immediate dynamic feedback. All three plug-ins are highly mono-compatible, using unique algorithms that maintain the original character of the source audio without introducing any strange phase, reverb, or delay-related artifacts. Each tool is compatible with 64-bit OSX, AAX (32- and 64-bit), and the latest VST3 standards. Stereoizer is a high-specification stereo image manipulation tool suitable for natural expansion, reduction, and introduction of stereo width at any stage of the audio production process. Another Stereopack tool is the Monofilter plug-in, which enables users to align and balance low frequencies with minimum effort to create solid, natural-sounding bass. The third tool in the Stereopack bundle is Stereoplacer, an advanced fine-tune parametric balancing control tool that allows users to tune each band to specific frequencies and move the frequency content around in the stereo sound stage.

Wireless HD extension from Gefen Gefen’s new wireless for HDMI 60 GHz is designed for any in-room transmission of 1080p full HD video up to 33 feet (10m). It delivers 3DTV, is plug and play and supports all audio formats including the new lossless high bit rate (HBR) 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The ability to pass through uncompressed video, lossless audio and 3DTV is ideal for cutting-edge, high-performance commercial or residential installations. This extender uses the best technology currently available for an impeccable method of wireless extension that takes full advantage of the WirelessHD specification, which is based on the 60 GHz EHF (extremely high frequency) radio band. This method of extension eliminates the need to run cables, making

it a great solution for retrofits or any environment that wants to streamline cabling. Due to its in-room transmission and use of the uncluttered 60 GHz frequency band, this extender can perform seamlessly alongside other wireless devices in adjacent rooms with zero interference. It is very easy to install, requiring a connection of the video source to the sender and of the display or projector to the receiver. Content is transported wirelessly at 4Gbps from source to display. This extender also features a small footprint and a compelling MSRP. Included is a risk-free warranty backed by Gefen’s reputation and well-regarded customer support team.

Ideal Systems softens Ideal Systems Group, an Asian broadcast systems integrator, has announced the launch of SoftCast Technologies, the world’s first suite of downloadable solutions for broadcast television operators. The SoftCast range is a comprehensive suite of software products for operating and managing broadcast television channels. In an industry first, Ideal Systems is making the new SoftCast range of products available for broadcasters to purchase and download online through its new online store, The new SoftCast range of products includes modules for channel-in-a-box; traditional automation; hybrid automation; content ingest; content playout in HD-SDI and IP; CG graphics; media asset management; newsroom computer system; live feed edit and censorship; broadcast schedule planning (traffic); and broadcast ad sales and contract management solutions. The SoftCast modules can be used as standalone solutions or natively connected to provide a seamless end-to-end broadcast system. SoftCast modules can be delivered internationally over the internet and are optimised to run on standard Dell computers that can be obtained locally in the user country. The ability to use standard equipment removes any difficult import regulations that many countries impose on broadcast equipment. “This is the first time this type of product has been sold and delivered on the internet, and it’s very exciting that Ideal Systems is pioneering this new delivery method and customer engagement paradigm,” said Fintan Mc Kiernan, Ideal Systems’ Spokesman for SoftCast. “This is also the first time that all of Ideal Systems Group offices will be supporting a common product set. At each of our offices, we will provide a high level of support with trained SoftCast engineers and production equipment for demonstrations, trials, and proof-of-concept work,” he added.

February 2014 | |



Series 6.6kW C-Band Rackmount UltraLinear power satellite teleport uplinks.


GaN SSPA/BUC, the ultimate solution for wide band



The new SapphireBlu Series of UltraLinear GaN te SSPAs and BUCs from Advantech Wireless are designed Advantech Wireless releases new SapphireBlu Operations and offer the highest linearand power available in th Advantech Wireless Inc., a privately-held Canadian corporation new systems are designed in a systems compact indoor modular p manufacturer of satellite, RF equipment and microwave announced for Series maximum link availability. the releasein of Redundancy the New SapphireBlu 6.6kW C-Band Rackmount

VidOvation expands fibre

VidOvation, a technology provider of video and data communication systems to the broadcast television, sports, corporate audio-visual, and government markets, will expand its VidOptic UltraLinear GaN SSPA/BUC for ultra high power satellite teleport uplinks. product line of fibre optic transport systems The new SapphireBlu series of UltraLinear GaN technology based “Our new high power density, GaN based SSPA con specifically designed for critical applications SSPAs and BUCs from Advantech Wireless are designed for multi-carrier maximum power/bandwidth combination. We have already requiring high-quality video performance and operations. These new systems are designed in a compact indoor modular and completed initial orders,” stated Cristi Damian reliability with price-performance leadership. package with built-in redundancy for maximum link availability. atGaN Advantech “We The new products include: “Our newDevelopment high power density, based SSPAWireless, concept, offers the can now saturate USB-DVI Computer Graphics Transport - The maximum power/bandwidth combination.and We have already started of an entire satellite obtain maximum bandwidth/powe VidOptic FVT/FVR-2100-A-D-USB-DVI is shipping and completed initial orders, ” stated Cristi Damian, VP Business customers realize great savings in energy cost, Satellite Ba designed for optical KVM extension to Development at Advantech Wireless. and OPEX.” transport computer graphics while extending “We can now saturate all transponders of an entire satellite and obtain computer control via USB and serial data maximum bandwidth/power efficiency. Our customers realise great savings TM TM Series of UltraLinear GaN te Thesatellite Newbandwidth, SapphireBlu transport. The system supports highin energy cost, CAPEX and OPEX. ” quality HDTV formats from 480P up to and The newSSPAs SapphireBlu series of UltraLinear technology based SSPAs exceed all and BUCs from GaN Advantech Wireless, including 1080P with full clarity over one fiber and BUCs from AdvantechTWTs Wireless,and exceedSSPAs, all barriersbacked between Klystrons, Klystrons, by over 25 years o and the transport of non-RGB video formats TWTs and SSPAs, backed by over 25 years of outdoor SSPA design design and manufacturing, combined withandthe traditional Ad such as YUV, YCrCb or YPrPb, RGB–HV, DVI–D manufacturing, combined with the traditional Advantech Wireless features. features. and DVI-DL through a DVI–I interface. This VidOptic transport is also designed to increase the transmission distance limitations of high About Advantech Wireless Sony gets a voice resolution RGB, DVI video and computer Advantech Wireless, an ISO 9001: 2008 certified corporation, is the leading-edge wireless broadband transmitter and receiver, can clearlynetworking reproduce graphics, and can support audio functionality compact Advantech professional camcorders moredesigns, manufactures solution With provider. Wireless andand deploys for broadba quality sound. as well as peripherals such as printers, broadcastwidely used for electronic andand field distribution, solutions, video newsgathering contribution mobile 2G, 3G and LTE backhaul and DT The UWP-D components’ display is twice the size scanners, and web cams. production UWP-D wireless distribution, usingapplications, satellite Sony’s and new terrestrial wireless communications. The products include VSAT Hub of previous UWP series, with a white background 4 Channel 3G HDSDI Fibre Optic Transport microphone series delivers the right combination of world-leading GaN technology High Power Amplifiers (SSPAs), Block-Up Convertersthat (SSPB), Freque makes Antennas, information easier to see. Controllers, Terrestrial Mi Card for openGear –  VidOptic  FVT/FVR- Satellite form and function forModems, pro shooters.fixed and deployable MCPC/SCPC Antenna The new series employs wide frequency coverage, 5400-3G is a four channel 3G HD-SDI fibre “Production professionals are using handy type Routers and ruggedized military products. For further information please visit the company’ with a wide band of up to 72 MHz coverage available. optic transport card with 4x4 matrix for and palm-size camcorders more for mobile, ‘run As a result, users can select from a broader range of openGear and is the most cost-effective way and-gun’ applications, and the wireless microphones operating frequencies. to transport HD signals while also providing need to match and easily mount to the camera, ” said Media Contact An Automatic Channel Setting mode lets users the convenience of a built-in switcher, Rosario Toxqui Shuji Okada, General Manager – Marketing, Sony perform channel scan and channel setting functions remote monitoring, and automatic fail-over Professional Solutions MEA. Marketing Communications easily. The Clear Channel Scan function detects protection. “This new series can even fit interchangeable lens Advantech Wireless unused channels and IR Sync enables easy channel These systems are capable of handling cameras to give shooters more options for capturing setting by sending information from the receiver to the SDI rates from 5 Mb/sec to 3 Gb/sec their content easily and in high quality.” transmitter by infrared communication. uncompressed with cards that automatically The UWP-D series uses new hybrid digital The series’ receiver is equipped with an output level detect the incoming signal, and provide full processing techology to achieve high quality sound. control, so even if the camcorder or camera does not have control over re-clocking and routing. This technology performs signal processing by input level control, users can easily adjust to optimise Fiber Optic CATV Cable TV RF Transmitter digital companding, with transmission handled by recording levels. The UWP-D transmitters and receivers are – VidOptic FCT-2300 utilises a high conventional analogue FM modulation. This improves compatible with Sony’s WL-800 series and UWP series. linearity 1310nm DFB laser, RF power transient response performance between the digital automatic process technique, along with RF pre-distortion circuit. The built-in microprocessor monitors the transmitter laser Facilis Technology has announced the availability of TerraBlock 6.0, the latest iteration of its shared storage solution. output power and temperature, automatically TerraBlock 6.0 features several improvements designed to augment usability, collaboration and performance – including insuring optimal performance for TV video Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)/Active Directory synchronisation, volume size reduction on the fly, a sleek signal, digital TV signal, telephone voice new customisable Graphical User Interface (GUI), support for Adobe Anywhere for video and more.  signal, and data signal long-distance fibre TerraBlock is Facilis’ multi-platform, high-capacity shared storage solution delivers highly transmission. collaborative workflows in post production and content creation environments. The high-performance SilverBACK-II Camera-Back Fibre Optic solution supports 8/16Gbps Fibre Channel and 1/10Gbps Ethernet through the Facilis Shared File Transceiver – the VidOptic SilverBack-II System and is compatible with most all industry-standard creative applications.  camera back supports bi-directional signals SyncBlock 2.0, a complementary archiving and backup solution to TerraBlock, is slated to be for GVG, Hitachi, Ikegami, Panasonic, wand available in the coming months and will feature improved archive management, tiered storage Sony cameras used in D-SNG, news, stu dio, automation and support for LTO-6.  and multi-camera production applications.

Facilis Technology launches TerraBlock 6.0

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PROPRODUCTS Atlona powers up

Prism Sound unveils new audio Interface Prism Sound has announced its third new interface product – Atlas. Designed with Prism Sound’s latest CleverClox clocking technology and incorporating eight of the company’s popular mic pre’s as standard, this latest addition to the USB interface family is aimed squarely at multitrack recording applications. Atlas offers recording professionals quality analogue and digital I/O for Mac or Windows PC at sample rates up to 192kHz via a simple USB interface. In addition to the USB host interface, Atlas also features Prism Sound’s new MDIO interface expansion slot, which was first incorporated into Titan and announced at AES New York in October 2013. Using this miniature expansion slot users can, for example, directly connect to Pro Tools|HDX systems. A range of other MDIO interfaces is planned for later introduction. Atlas will also run with Apple and Windows native applications over USB.

Atlas draws on Prism Sound’s conversion and clocking expertise developed over many years in products ranging from the AD-2 and DA-2 and the popular ADA-8XR modular converter to Orpheus and the latest releases, Lyra and Titan. It offers eight analogue inputs, eight analogue outputs plus S/PDIF and TOSLINK optical digital I/O ports. The optical ports can also be used for ADAT, giving a single Atlas unit a maximum capability of 18 concurrent input and output channels plus dual stereo headphones. Atlas also features high quality digitallycontrolled preamplifiers – eight for microphones and two for instruments, which are automatically selected when the respective sources are plugged in. An assignable rotary control is provided for monitoring or output level control, which can be applied to any desired set of output channels. In addition, dual stereo headphone outputs are provided, each with its own volume control.

Pro Control’s wireless offering Pro Control, a division of Remote Technologies Incorporated (RTI), has announced that its new Pro. rfz wireless range extender is now shipping. The device makes it simple and cost-effective to extend the ProLink.z processor’s 2.4-GHz ZigBee wireless network to additional areas of a home or commercial facility, providing users with powerful two-way control and feedback — including song metadata, volume levels, current temperature, and more — via the sleek Pro24.z remote. “For larger homes, sports bars, nightclubs, and more, the Pro.rfz range extender dramatically lowers overall system costs,” said Mike Everett, General Manager at Pro Control. “By extending the wireless range of the ProLink.z’s internal 2.4-GHz ZigBee antenna, the device allows installers to provide their customers with the

convenience of two-way control and feedback over a greater area, without the expense of purchasing additional processors.” Featuring a durable plastic enclosure, the Pro.rfz can be located up to 70 feet away from the ProLink.z processor. For increased reliability, multiple modules can be utilised within a single system to create a wireless 2.4-GHz ZigBee RF network, which instantly adapts to changes or problems within the communication path for greater accuracy. For installers, the range extender is easily configured via the Pro Control Studio software and a micro USB cable. Providing a clean and simple installation, the Pro.rfz features a detachable wall bracket and can be powered from any electrical outlet. 

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Atlona, an AV distribution solutions provider, will be shipping its new AT-PS-POCC midspan power supply. Designed to power PoCc-compatible HDBaseT transmitters and/ or receivers without requiring the related Atlona power source device, the AT-PS-POCC can send power to a compatible transmitter, receiver, or both using the same category cable as the HDBaseT signal. The AT-PS-POCC is a 24V DC bi-directional power supply ideal for any AV environment in which neither the transmitters nor receivers can receive power from a powered transmitter or switch. The system is also useful in installations that would be unduly cluttered with additional power supply wiring. A switch allows the AT-PS-POCC to provide power between the transmitter and receiver, in either direction or both directions simultaneously, and a single power supply can power multiple AT-PS-POCC devices. The elegant solution can be used to enable and disable PoCc devices for easy power routing, and its captive screw design ensures a secure and reliable connection. In a typical installation, the AT-PS-POCC could connect Atlona’s AT-HDVS-TX-WP transmitters/switchers with RSNET, IR, and PRO3 receivers or HDBaseT displays (such as those from Epson or Panasonic). The power supply also supports RSNET, IR, and PRO3 PoCc receivers with PRO2 switchers and RSNET, IR, and PRO3 PoCc receivers from HDBaseT AVRs (such as Pioneer).  “In the past, integrators using both PoCcand non-PoCc-compatible products in an installation would have to run power supplies at both the transmitter and receiver,” said Bill Schripsema, Atlona commercial product manager. “Atlona’s AT-PS-POCC mid-span power supply eliminates that need and ensures that PoCc-compatible HDBaseT transmitters and/ or receivers are compatible with a variety of devices that don’t provide PoCc power.”


N E W F E AT U R E S . N E W T R E N D S . N E W O P P O RT U N I T I E S .

900 +








be worth more than

$2 Billion by Year End*


MENA’s Media and Broadcast Market will










, CO




60 +





”Transforming Broadcasting in the Always Connected Digital World” SECURE YOUR SEAT! +971 4 308 6152




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Lucrative exhibitor zone dedicated to multiscreen streamed and consumed content platforms & solutions

Attend the launch of CABSAT’s new Networking Event Series at the exclusive Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. *Source: CABSAT Research 2013

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Mobile customers today are influenced by a “connected culture” and have a need to remain connected, informed and entertained continually through the use of digital mobile services

Juan Jose De La Torre, Intigral.

MENA’s new digital arena Traditional mobile value added services (MVAS), which primarily comprised of messaging, ring-back tones, and occasional web sessions, has now passed its product maturity cycle, thus laying the foundation to what we call VAS 2.0 or digital mobile services, covering interactive applications and internet-enabled services. Mobile customers today are influenced by a “connected culture” and have a need to remain connected, informed and entertained continually through the use of digital mobile services. A number of factors are contributing to the growth and uptake of these services however; one of the biggest drivers is the changing devices landscape in the region. The Middle East region has been receiving a lot of attention from vendors who are working to “smart” up their entry level devices and introduce feature-rich smartphones at affordable price points, what we call smartfeature phones. In seeking to maximise the VAS 2.0 opportunity, regional operators are luring smartphone owners to subscribe to various data-access packages. Besides, they are offering smartphones at subsidised rates when customers commit to a certain period. Regional telcos are also actively contributing to the digital content landscape through a number of initiatives

such as the launch of operator-owned digital services, which aim to facilitate the consumption of traditional content through digitally-enabled and enhanced services. Furthermore, operators, and device and platform providers in the region are actively encouraging local application development through developer communities. Moreover, initiatives by Arab countries for the development of digital content will boost the adoption of localised Arabic digital content services. For example, in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah Initiative for Arabic Content has more than 60 projects for developing digital content. Qatar established the Digital Content Incubation Centre to promote entrepreneurship related to the production of Arabic content and a Creative Commons affiliate to encourage and protect digital creativity. Similarly, ‘Badir’, a technology incubator programme launched by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in 2007 has been funding and supporting many start-up projects related to mobile apps development. These factors have led to a visible shift from traditional mobile valueadded services to data-oriented services. However, there still exists a

72 | | February 2014

clear disconnect in the type of content and applications, which consumers use and demand, than what is being developed and supplied by aggregators and operators. As smartphone penetration rises, mobile tariffs rationalise and the availability of localised content increases, consumers will increasingly look for relevant localised content that provides them with a userfriendly and intuitive interface. Therefore, use of data analytics, on both content aggregators’ and operators’ part will play a major role in narrowing the supply and demand gap, enabling absolute visibility of both content consumption and data usage, as well as help differentiate and microsegment products and services easily, thus addressing some key concerns in the digital content industry. Going forward, the ability to understand the psychographic, geographic, and the demographics of consumers while also improve quality of service, increase customer satisfaction, and effectively communicating with customers anytime, anywhere will be key element to promoting the adoption of mobile content services over the next couple of years. Hence, operators will need to explore new customer engagement models, develop niche products for different customer segments, and understand how to leverage an ever increasing mass of customer data. They will also have to harness new market drivers such as social networking and mobile advertising, stretch their business models and facilitate the development of a selfsustaining digital content eco-system. PRO Juan Jose De La Torre is Vice President of Mobile and Web at Intigral.

Our automated playout solution that adapts seamlessly into your broadcast workflow. Visit us at Cabsat Stand B6-44.

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BroadcastPro ME February 2014  

Broadcast Pro Middle East is a monthly publication covering television and radio broadcasting technology as well as filmmaking trends in the...

BroadcastPro ME February 2014  

Broadcast Pro Middle East is a monthly publication covering television and radio broadcasting technology as well as filmmaking trends in the...