THE BUSINESS OF DIGITAL CONTENT DELIVERY
THE I.T. CROWD Du reveals its ambitious online content plans
CABSAT 2010 SPECIAL
An ITP Business Publication
REALITY BYTES A sneak preview of ADMC’s augmented reality technology
OPEN SKIES Exploring satellite TV’s complex legal landscape
How Humaid Rashid Sahoo has led E-Vision to cable TV dominance Licensed by Dubai Media City
VOLUME 3 ISSUE 3 MARCH 2010
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HIGHLIGHTS 2 WEB Spot poll: Will you be attending CABSAT?; top web stories; editor’s choice: Burj Khalifa launch video.
BRIEFING 6 THE Al Jazeera Sport to broadcast World Cup in 3D; Qtel pursues mobile content; OSN goes HD.
18 LOCKBOX CoreTrust CEO Jehak Woo on the security fi rms push for ‘nth’ screen compatibility.
STORY: 20 COVER THE CABLE GUY Digital Broadcast speaks to the CEO of E-Vision about the operator’s meteoric rise.
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE FAMILY OF DIGITAL TV MONITORING, MEASUREMENT AND ANALYSIS PRODUCTS IN THE WORLD
ANALYSIS 64 MARKET STB sales decline amid slowing subs growth; revenue is vastly improved year-on-year.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE...
THE I.T. CROWD
Du enters the world of online content in a joint venture with Eurosport.
The region’s complex satellite broadcasting laws explained.
MARCH 2010 01
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MOST POPULAR STORIES M
ADMC TO BROADCAST EPL FOOTBALL VIA WEB Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) has announced plans to offer access to its EPL football coverage for $15 per month once it assumes the broadcast rights next season. digitalproductionme.com/news
READER COMMENT: “They must be offering it online in addition to an encrypted TV channel.Or this is just a massive conspiracy to make us football lovers upgrade to Etisalat’s ripoff broadband service?” Bob D, UAE.
Al Jazeera Sport to broadcast World Cup in 3D Cricket in 3D sparks heated debate in India Qtel signs agreement with Universal Music AKG debuts wireless mic monitoring iPhone-iPod app No more rock or rhythm for CSM
DATE: February 23
EDITOR’S CHOICE VIDEOS
ALSO ON THE DPME SLATE THIS MONTH...
An overview of the key trends driving the Middle East OB sector.
Senior satcom execs discuss the trend towards diversiﬁed services.
TOP FIVE ON AIR GRAPHICS
A look at the best onair graphics solutions available today.
digitalproductionme.com/technology 02 MARCH 2010
What can the Middle East offer the global content industry?
A ﬁttingly over-the-top launch event caps the opening of the world’s tallest building.
SPOT POLL WILL YOU BE ATTENDING THIS YEAR’S CABSAT?
53% 22% 15% 10%
Yes I’ll be there. Maybe. No interest whatsoever. No, I’ll save myself for NAB or IBC.
DATE: February 23
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EPL BOOST FOR TELCOS
DMC’s acquisition of the EPL broadcast rights broke the pay TV stranglehold that had seen the traditional operators bouncing the license around between them. There had been hopes that ADMC would make some games available on FTA. Th is would however be a breach of their agreement with the Premier League and has been dismissed. There were also hopes that ADMC would broker a deal with all the pay TV operators that would see the EPL become widely available on each platform. However, ADMC has stated that it will not be sub-licensing access to any third parties. Instead, three platforms will be offered. Online access can be granted for US $15 per month, IPTV platforms can be used or an encrypted HD satellite channel can accessed. The announcement that the company will distribute the broadcasts over the internet (where possible) is encouraging in some ways and worrying in others. In the UAE, Etisalat offers speeds of 256kb/s, 1Mb/s, 8Mb/s, 16Mb/s and 30Mb/s. In my own experience of streaming Champions League matches from the UEFA website, a speed of
2Mb/s is needed to ensure a consistent stream, at a watchable resolution. Th is means customers in the UAE looking to take advantage of the $15 per month webcast offer, will need to sign-up for an 8Mb/s broadband service. For those of us not already using such a service, this will mean upgrading. The price difference between a 1Mb/s and an 8Mb/s connection on Etisalat’s Al Shamil service is 250 AED (264 to 514 AED). Th is is an extra $68 per month for consumers to spend on top of the $15 subscription. One thing is certain. The telcos are going to be big winners. ADMC is directing viewers towards broadband and IPTV platforms and away from satellite platforms. Th is will drive pricy broadband subscriptions and cause a swing from satellite, towards telco TV in the markets where it is available.
JOHN PARNELL Deputy Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
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FOR THE LATEST NEWS, ANALYSIS AND REVIEWS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST CONTENT DELIVERY, MEDIA MANAGEMENT AND NEW MEDIA DISTRIBUTION BUSINESS HEAD TO DIGITALPRODUCTIONME.COM
TO SUBSCRIBE please visit www.itp.com/subscriptions MARCH 2010 05
GOOD MONTH NINTENDO Gaming giant Nintendo has been awarded US$1.3m in damages in a landmark Australian court case after a man was found to have illegally copied and distributed the company’s New Super Mario Bros game a week ahead of its ofﬁcial release in the country. James Burt was ordered to pay the ﬁgure following the negotiation of an out-of-court settlement with the company. “Nintendo will pursue those who attempt to jeopardise our industry by using all means available,” said the company.
BAD MONTH RIAA The music recording industry trade body suffered a blow in its battle against ﬁle sharers. Jammie Thomas-Rasset saw her initial charge of $1.92 million reduced to just $54,000. Meanwhile, lawyers for Joel Tenenbaum claimed their defendant’s actions were not solely responsible for the availability of titles in his shared ﬁle on P2P networks and therefore he was only liable for 70 percent of the 99 cents purchase price per track.
06 MARCH 2010
AL JAZEERA TO SHOW FIFA WORLD CUP IN 3D Qatari broadcaster upgrading infrastructure to cope with 3D demands Al Jazeera Sport has confi rmed it will broadcast the World Cup in South Africa in 3D from in conjunction with FIFA. The sports network is in the process of building two 3G (3Gbps) studios that are designed to facilitate better transmission of HD 1080p and 3D signals. Subscribers will have to pay an extra charge on their existing subscriptions to view the channels in 3D, according to Khalifi Bin Nasser Al Ghanim, director general of Al Jazeera Sport. The 2010 World Cup will also be broadcast by Al Jazeera Sport in HD via satellite. Al Jazeera Sport has been one of the most profitable divisions of Al Jazeera Network and recently made several technical and business investments to support 3D broadcasts. The Sports network recently purchased the rights to several premium sports broadcasts from ART for a reported US $1.3 billion. It is also in the process of building a brand new studio
facility in addition to a 3G facility. The fi rst of the 3G studios is scheduled to be completed by mid February while the second is scheduled for completion at the end of March. American sports broadcaster ESPN has already announced plans in conjunction with Sony to broadcast matches from this year’s World Cup in 3D.
Sony will shoot 25 matches at this year’s FIFA World Cup in 3D.
MONTH IN NUMBERS
Number of HD channels broadcast by E-Vision by 2011
Potential number of 3D channels in region by 2011
MENOS NETWORK SET FOR EXPANSION Newtec’s MENOS content exchange system will be expanded into Africa in mid-2010 as new satellite capacity becomes available, an executive from the company has told Digital Broadcast. The service is operating at near capacity at present as public and commercial broadcasters look to sign-up to the service originally conceived for ASBU members. “Our immediate limit to expansion is satellite capacity,” said Simon Pryor, MENOS marketing manager at Newtec. “There is a little room
for expansion at the moment but this should be resolved by the middle of this year when we acquire additional bandwidth.” The MENOS content exchange aides collaboration and contribution for its members and is currently operational in the Middle East and North Africa. “We will look to expand the geographical coverage and also to provide more capacity in existing markets as the average usage per country increases,” added Pryor. www.digitalproductionme.com
E-VISION TO RAMP UP HD CHANNEL ROLLOUT IN 2010 Cable TV operator sets target of 20 high deﬁnition channels on air in the UAE by 2011 Cable pay TV operator E-Vision plans to have 20 HD channels available to subscribers by the end of 2010, according to the UAE broadcaster’s CEO, Humaid Rashid Sahoo. Speaking exclusively to Digital Broadcast, Sahoo said the company was keen to continue making increased volumes of HD content available to its customers. “We were the fi rst operator in the region to offer HD when we launched it in July last year. We know that the number of HD TV sets in the UAE is very high. There is a strong likelihood that HD will
be successful in this market,” said Sahoo. “We have eight HD channels at the moment. We will be adding two more soon and we expect to have 20 HD channels by the end of the year, which will be a very strong offering indeed. Movies and sports are the drivers for HD, and the new launches will reflect that,” added Sahoo.
E-VISION’S GROWING REACH The UAE-based cable operator will soon have full coverage in its domestic market and is eyeing opportunities abroad.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
There are 40-50 million people browsing the internet in this region, but they are underserved with Arabic content. There’s no reason why they should be treated as second class [online] citizens. RAGHU VENKATARAMAN, Chief strategy and investments ofﬁcer, du.
P. Harris Morris
NEW HARRIS PRESIDENT NAMED
MOTOROLA ACQUIRES BITBAND
ALGERIA LAUNCHES IPTV SERVICE
Following Tim Thorsteinson’s departure from Harris in October last year, Harris has announced that P. Harris Morris will be the new president of the company’s Broadcast Communications business. Morris previously served as vice president and general manager at the company’s Media and Workﬂow area of the Broadcast Communications business.
Motorola completed the previously announced acquisition of content management and delivery system provider BitBand. The company will be integrated into Motorola’s Home business. BitBand’s product range is tailored for IP video and OTT services as well as solutions for content delivery networks (CDN) and Over-the-Top video services.
Algeria Telecom has launched the country’s ﬁrst IPTV service, SAFIR. The platform will be rolledout on Algeria’s FTTH network. “SAFIR is a key initiative in the rollout of our FTTH network and evidence of our commitment to offer six million broadband connections by the end of 2013,” said Moussa Benhamadi, CEO, Algeria Telecom.
MARCH 2010 07
Dubai-based telco du has conﬁrmed it will radically overhaul its 3G network later this year. A senior executive from the telecom operator speaking to Digital Broadcast on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona also said that its long-term network expansion plans have not been impacted by the global downturn.
DU TO UPGRADE 3G NETWORK THIS YEAR
ADMC CONFIRMS NO FTA OR PAY TV DEAL FOR EPL Network to offer access via additional STB, cable or over broadband Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) has revealed it will go it alone in distributing English Premier League (EPL) matches, refuting previous reports suggesting it planned to do deals with pay TV or FTA broadcasters operating in the Middle East. The state broadcaster will make the EPL available on three different platforms including HD settop boxes (STB), IPTV or streaming via broadband. Rates for each platforms remain unconfirmed. Contrary to previous opinion, ADMC is not expecting to tie up with regional pay TV operators or broadcasters to show the EPL. Viewers will be encouraged to purchase an HD STB and a corresponding smart card from the
$15 “The recession was very bad and hit the entire world [but] the telecoms industry was one of the least affected by the recession,” said Hatem Bamatraf, senior VP of network development, du. “We are expanding the data rates of the speed that customers use over the 3G network from the current 7.2 megabytes per second to 21 megabytes per second. This represents a big jump and a big revolution and it is enhancing the entire network,” said Bamatraf. Earlier this month, du said it would invest more than $545m on network expansion.
08 MARCH 2010
broadcaster to view the encrypted channels. ADMC is currently in the process of negotiating distribution arrangements with major retailers to ensure easy availability of its proprietary STBs. Karim Sarkis, executive director of Broadcast at ADMC, said that the company is “launching a compelling offering that will provide enhanced accessibility and Karim Sarkis, value-for-money”.
Monthly cost of unlimited broadband access to EPL matches distributed by ADMC.
MOVERS & SHAKERS VOLICON EXPANDS EMEA COMMITMENT Broadcast monitoring technology specialist Volicon has appointed Paul Dubery director of EMEA business development. He has previously held roles with Front Porch Digital, Tektronix and Grass Valley. “Dubery’s understanding of the market and familiarity with content owners, producers, distributors, system integrators, technology and reseller partners will be key to fuelling our ongoing business growth,” said Julius Perl, vice president of marketing for Volicon.
TSL NAMES TONY ORME PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT MANAGER TSL has conﬁrmed the appointment of Tony Orme as product development manager for its audio monitoring, UMD and Tally, power management and customised product families. Orme has previously held positions with a number of UK broadcasters including BBC, MTV and BSkyB. “I believe there is even greater scope to turn existing products and those underdevelopment into market leaders,” said Orme.
NATPE CONFIRMS ROLE IN MIDDLE EAST CONTENT SHOW A new content market for the Middle East region has been announced by organisers DISCOP and the US National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE). The event will bring producers, content creators and licence buyers and sellers together across a number of formats including fi lm, scripted and unscripted TV. “The launch of DISCOP Middle East means we are in a position to deliver content licensing opportunities in increasingly important developing markets,” said Patrick Jucaud, GM, DISCOP.
The number of Arabic-language internet users in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to grow nearly 50 percent over the next three years, a vice president of Google said in Dubai last month. Vinton Cerf, forecast that this figure will increase to 82m by 2013, a rise of 46.4 percent over present levels. “The internet has permanently altered world trade, reducing barriers to market entry, bringing companies closer to their customers and creating opportunities that reach beyond traditional geographic boundaries,” said Cerf.
TELECOMS MARKET QTEL SIGNS MULTIPLE DEALS AT MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS The Qtel Group had a busy week at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with the announcement of a far-reaching content agreement with Universal Music and the formation of a mobile content innovation centre in Doha. Under the terms of the Universal Music deal, customers of telcos within the Qtel Group will be offered unlimited music downloads through mobiles and the internet. The company will also develop music themed communities and songsharing applications for its subscribers and offer access to exclusive music events. “We are seeing a major shift in music consumption behaviour from traditional media into online and now the mobile phones,” said Dr Nasser Maraﬁh, CEO, Qtel. “Customers now expect to have access to their favourite music communities
while on the move. This partnership with Universal Music will address their changing needs.” “We will offer an interactive music experience in partnership with Universal Music Group, bringing together music, videos, communities and entertainment news, as well as pre-album releases,” added Maraﬁh. Kuwait, Qatar and Oman are among the ﬁrst markets set to receive the new service in 2010. Qtel will also open a Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) ofﬁce in Doha in a bid to boost the amount of locally produced content and applications for mobile devices. The announcement builds on last year’s agreement, when Qtel became a MEF member. “We believe content and entertainment will be a key driver for our industry,” said Dr Maraﬁh. “But there is a lack of localised content in our region and we need to start building it, and our partnership with the MEF will help us to do that.”
GOOGLE VP PREDICTS GROWTH IN ARABIC WEB USE
GBI SIGN FIBRE NETWORK DEALS Cable networking ﬁrm Gulf Bridge International (GBI) signed two major cable landing agreements last month. Vodafone Qatar and UAE-based du will both work with GBI to provide cable landing stations for the company’s regional ﬁbre network, scheduled for launch in 2011. “Partnering with Vodafone Qatar takes GBI one step closer to fulﬁlling our implementation plans,” said
GBI CEO Ahmed Mekky. Mekky “We believe that once operational, the GBI cable system will play a key role in facilitating communications and enabling the region to grow both socially and economically.” The UAE connection will be based at du’s newly constructed cable landing station in the Eastern Emirate of Fujairah. “This new landing station, which will connect the UAE to the GBI cable network, will improve communications across the region and beneﬁt consumers and businesses alike as the UAE’s economy continue to grow.” The GBI system has been designed to operate for up to 25 years.
MARCH 2010 09
MARKING TERRITORY CABSAT offers technology developers an opportunity to liaise with their regional clients, ﬁnd new sales leads and develop new partnerships. Digital Broadcast spoke to some of this year’s exhibitors to discover what they hope to achieve from the show.
PARTNER UP TOMAS DELDEN Middle East sales director, Net Insight We have met a lot of customers in 2009 and we have formed some partnerships, we have also done some work to develop the brand. At CABSAT this year we have a clear message that we are looking for qualified partners. Th is selection process will be very stringent. I know from my experience in the region that it is easy to get partners, but to fi nd the right one can be much more difficult. We’ll be looking at their track record in the industry specifically within the video transport niche. Many of the distributors in the region have a telecom background so they are familiar with the network rollout. That means, in particular, dealing with active devices in remote areas for example. Ideally they would also have experience of media and TV broadcasting technology. If they don’t however, there are other skills that are highly valued. If they have a team aggressively working on the sales front, that would also be a big bonus. Some partners will say that they have the technical skills and they have the correct contacts in the industry but that is not enough, you need to see that they are hungry and will actively pursue new sales. It’s our second year at CABSAT, last year was more about analysing the market and meeting as many people as possible. It was more about developing the brand and educating the market about our approach and our products. We have a fantastic stand lined-up for CABSAT and we have a good position so we are anticipating high traffic volumes. 012 MARCH 2010
ROOM TO GROW PAUL NICHOLLS Sales and marketing manager, PHABRIX
CABSAT IN NUMBERS
The change for PHABRIX looking at the Middle East is the growth in the company, 2009 was a particularly good year with our products selling well in the Americas and Europe and it’s a natural progression of the company to find new markets. PHABRIX is a relatively young company having only started selling at IBC 2008 despite offering IP to the industry in 2005. We now have nearly 1,000 products installed so we are very confident with the quality of our product range and I am confident it will be equally successful in the Middle East. Certainly having researched the market, there is no doubt that the region is very tech savvy. HD continues to grow in the Middle
East at a pace and I have no doubt that 3D video will be adopted too. My experience so far with myy contacts in the region has taught me that withoutt doubt, both engineers and channel management are well aware of what is developing on the world stage technologically and if it suits their market, they’ll adopt it faster than anywhere else. I think each market has its own particular dynamic and as a new company to the Middle East, we are learning as we go however we are aware off Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum (right) at the the importance of this region and its broadcast opening of CABSAT 2009. needs. Now that PHABRIX has developed, we are looking to expand into the Middle East and support it as well as any of the other regions we have LET THE NUMBERS DO been successful in. To create trust and underTHE TALKING standing of your products in a new market needs As the largest trade show for the a lot of initial investment. I am personally looking content production and delivery forward to seeing how the region responds to our industries in the MENA region, products in its own right irrespective of the effects CABSAT has maintained its imof recession in other parts of the world. portance through the downturn Regardless of which market you are operating and remains a must attend event in, it is essential to support your customers from for those looking to suceed in the start of the sales process through to managing the region. the customer relationship long term. One thing we have learnt about the region is that personal contact is a very important. Our success in other markets has been in building a Number of exhibitors at last rapport with our existing customers. year’s show.
DRUMMING UP NEW BUSINESS
The percentage of CABSAT 2009 exhibitors that felt the show was a key part of their marketing strategy.
KALEIL ISAZA TUZMAN Chairman and CEO, KIT Digital
The number of participating countries in 2009.
8,603 to be doing something in this space too. It is something we will want to talk to broadcasters at during the show. The trade shows that do the best will be the ones that encourage business to be done on the showfloor rather than just focusing on products. We hope to finalise and sign-off a few deals at the show. We have some new business in the region in the mobile and online video segments and we expect a lot of activity around these.
The total number of visitors last year.
93% SOURCE: DWTC
We will be looking to talk to new clients at the show. We have an office in Dubai so we can talk with existing regional customers all year round. We work across our online and mobile video segments and STB business, I would say the mobile video area is particularly strong in the Middle East. On a relative basis there are more video capable handsets than there are broadband connections in the region. I think broadcasters are increasingly thinking about what the future holds in the online and mobile video sectors. I don’t think it is something that is getting much attention in some regions outside of Asia and the US. I think the Middle East is a little bit behind in this regard but there have been some good video implementations for mobile and the internet – such as MBC’s Shahed Online – and also some of the projects at ADMC, Rotana is also rumoured
The percentage of exhibitors that were happy with the inaugural year of the Satellite MENA show, collocated with CABSAT. MARCH 2010 013
INSIDE TELCO TV Ten years after its launch by UAE telco Etisalat, cable TV service E-Vision has become one of the largest pay TV operators in the region. Digital Broadcast tours the company’s head-end and nerve centre near Al Dhaid, in the emirate of Sharjah.
The facility in Al Dhaid contains two small production studios for the E-Junior channel (above). A larger space to be used in part as a virtual is currently being installed.
KHALED MOHAMMED SHAMS AL BALOUSHI Technical manager, E-Vision. “We have 252 SD channels, 28 audio stations and 8 HD channels playing out from this facility. We are also operating two 3G streaming channels. E-Vision’s video on demand and pay per view services are also distributed from this facility. We will be looking to find new content partners for these services at CABSAT this year. We are looking at installing a new automation system and the servers. When we do we will be able to support in the region of 700 channels. The technology is changing all the time so our selection will be based on the viewer requirements and we will have an evaluation committee and bidding process in place to ensure we make the correct choice. We are running a digital management system at the moment to evaluate what people are interested in so we won’t just fill this allocation of channels with anything and everything that is available. We are currently using a tape-based archive but we have plans to invest in a tapeless archive and a new asset management system system. There is also some content production work based here. There are two smaller studios in place and we are in the process of finishing a third, larger space that we will be able to use as a virtual studio when ready.” 014 MARCH 2010
A new Evertz monitoring system is being installed that will be able to handle 700 channels.
E-Vision currently stores its archive in a barcoded tape library. The company is now looking to replace this with a digital archive system and a new content management platform to support it.
The dish farm at the facility provides E-Vision with several sources per channel to protect it from any problems with a single satellite. www.digitalproductionme.com
The company has two Thomson PROCART robotic ingestion systems. The ingest operation also handles PAL-NTSC conversion.
E-Vision is currently beta-testing a new VOD system to build on its pay per view service. These will be supported with Harmonic hardware. MARCH 2010 015
IP OR SATELLITE
With emerging video consumption patterns becoming clearer, Simen Frostad ponders which platform is best-positioned to deliver the 21st century viewing experience.
n the space of a few decades, the viewing habits viewer’s worldwide have changed dramatically. Where once there were only linear broadcast television services, which the consumer could record with tape or later DVD in order to exercise some control over viewing time and place, recent years have seen an accelerating trend toward interactivity and viewer choice. Audiences have become accustomed to searching for and playing the content they want, at a time that suits them, via the internet. Content is no longer exclusively contributed or distributed by broadcasters. In response, broadcasters have developed their own online offerings, where viewers can experience on-demand playback over the internet of content originally developed for broadcast transmission. In this context where consumers want to mix and match content from many sources and view it in a variety of ways, a key question for media organisations is: how best can we provide the services viewers desire, on the platform they want to view it? And more specifically, what technology should we use: satellite or IP? The great advantage of IP is that it provides a return path: a way for the receiver of the service to send data to the provider. In other words, a means for the subscriber to interact and exercise choice over content, but also to use the service for communication. The triple-play and quad-play of the
016 MARCH 2010
Given ...the choice between a richly interactive service that delivers a converged range of entertainment... And a relatively onedimensional satellite service offering little other than the linear television... Which would most viewers choose? SIMEN FROSTAD Chairman, Bridge Technologies.
IPTV provider bundles VoIP telephony, video on demand, internet and wireless provision together with standard ‘broadcast’ television. Satellite providers are severely limited by comparison: some have built a measure of ‘interactive’ service into their offering, but the technology is not designed for this. At the consumer level, given a blank sheet and the choice between a richly interactive service that delivers a converged range of entertainment, information and communication services, and a relatively one-dimensional satellite service offering little other than the linear television and audio experience, which would most viewers choose? The momentum of changing viewer habits suggests that IPTV is a more appropriate technology for the 21st century. But nothing is quite so simple: IPTV and triple/quad-play services require cable (preferably fibre) infrastructure into the premises, and this is not always possible in some locations. For those, satellite will remain the only alternative to terrestrial television. But for already developed areas, and especially new residential and business developments in rapidly expanding cities, the interactive, multi-faceted triple/quad-play service may already have come to be viewed as an essential part of a modern property’s specifications, in the same way that electric lighting was at the beginning of the 20th century. Simen Frostad is chairman of Bridge Technologies.
The way people watch videos is no longer what it used to be!
Photo : Peter Muller - Getty Images VU DU TOIT
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Dubai: March 2nd to 4th, E1 - 11 IPTV Forum: March 23rd to 25th, N째123
LOCKBOX As content distribution becomes increasingly sophisticated across a variety of platforms, security and rights management systems must work harder to protect content. Jehak Woo, CEO of content security developer CoreTrust, describes what the company is doing to keep pace.
Do you see a lot of potential in the Middle East market? We are working with ART in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. We are also working on a project in Egypt for a hybrid satellite IPTV service. We are very interested in the African market also. There are a lot of CA companies in this market. The content security security sector is a very competitive field of broadcast technology. What references do you have in the Middle East region? We have previously provided our conditional access (CA) and digital rights management (DRM) for the Telecommunications Company of Iran’s (TCI) IPTV service. We also provide the DRM for ART’s VOD service on its hybrid service. We see ourselves as the leaders in the VOD field. What major clients do you have outside the Middle East? In Korea we provide major DRM systems for KT and LG Telecom – two of the biggest telcos in Korea – for example. They use multiple delivery platforms, KT has its own satellite and IP based broadcast services. One of the requirements of the DRM was to fit into all these multiple platforms. What do you offer clients in terms of engineering support? The company’s technical support has proven popular with our customers. We have a lot of staff in-house that are available to work on any issues. We always ensure compatibiltiy with a client’s existing system before we do an installation. Is content security under threat in your domestic market? Security is a big issue in Korea. We have improved our level of protection in a more secure, layered way. There were a few requests from each telco
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about what they wanted us to do. Our system is very flexible and scalable to interface with these different service platforms. We allow customisation on our current system which can be done on a case-by-case basis. We work very hard on our DRM encryption and our system has never been hacked in Korea. Do you handle all your research and development internally? The company is founded on its security technology and this is all developed in-house. We have our own internal programmers for CA and DRM and we have created our own CA systems for cable, satellite, IPTV and mobile.
We are looking to expand our system for the ‘nth’screen – beyond TV and PCs and looking at other devices... Everything is getting connected in Korea and whenever these connections are made, there is also a security issue in between. JEHAK WOO, CEO, CoreTrust.
And does the company makes the alterations for each individual customer as well? We code our basic DRM system and then depending on the telco, the platform and the services they want to offer, we will do the necessary customisation for them. Is IPTV the strongest segment of the business? We have a very strong IPTV system. All the IPTV systems in Korea are using CoreTrust conditional access and DRM. Th is represents around 1.5 million subscribers. They are all using both our CA system for the live channels and our DRM for the VOD services. Is multi-screen DRM support the next step for the company? We are looking to expand our system for the ‘nth’ screen – beyond TV and PCs and looking at other devices. We’re working on this project at present. Everything is getting connected in Korea and whenever these connections are made, there is also a security issue in between. We are working on this a lot and hoping we can become the best in this industry.
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COVER COVERSTORY STORY
Etisalat’s E-Vision service has emerged as one of the largest pay TV platforms in the MENA region. CEO Humaid Rashid Sahoo tells John Parnell about the company’s plans for the future. 020 MARCH 2010
lot has changed since UAE telco Etisalat launched its first foray into the cable TV market ten years ago. The region was dominated by satellite TV distribution with alternatives few and far between. A number of telcos have since looked to rollout TV services following the triple- and quad-play models seen in other markets where cable – and latterly IPTV – offerings are well established. Of these, Etisalat’s E-Vision service is by far the largest. “We started E-Vision on a technology called hybrid fibre-coaxial, a standard for the cable TV industry, and we were only in 20,000 homes,” says Humaid Rashid Sahoo, CEO, E-Vision. “We started in IP in 2007 and are developing our full IPTV service now. Etisalat has an ambitious plan to cover the whole of the UAE with fibre to the home (FTTH) by the end of 2011. By the end of this year Abu Dhabi will be the only capital city in the world to have full fibre connectivity. This gives us a huge boost. We are riding on the Etisalat network so when the fibre network is complete, every home in the Emirates will become a target for us.” According to figures released by Informa Telecoms and Media last year, E-Vision is now the third largest pay TV service in the Middle East and North Africa with an estimated 340,000 subscribers. To highlight the extent of this accomplishment you must consider the fact that the service is only available in the UAE (population less than 5 million). Of these five million people, many are currently restricted to services from rival du or unable to receive either service at all. The FTTH network will make a huge difference. “I have been given a target subscriber figure to achieve and we have a very ambitious plan, by 2011
every house in the UAE will be the target; that’s more than 700,000 homes. We will be targeting all of those, although we don’t expect to get 100 percent of them of course,” says Sahoo. With Etisalat operating telco services in a vast number of international markets including Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia India, and Egypt, could E-Vision expand its own reach beyond the borders of the UAE? “Our focus at the moment is in the domestic market. We have not yet completed our mission in the UAE,” says Sahoo. “Each market has its own characteristics and when you are looking to launch a pay TV service or platform you need to study it to identify the content and the pricing strategies necessary. But the experience that we have gained in the past 10 years in the UAE can be applied to other markets – especially ones where we have an existing Etisalat service already – in particular the KSA and Egyptian markets. We are already in discussions with some of the operators there and exploring the ideas of how they can benefit from our service, and if they are interested in launching cable TV or indeed exploring any kind of content strategy for that matter. The telecom and the media industries are now actively merging together so it is a great opportunity for us to capitalise on this trend. If a telco wants to offer a TV service to expand its portfolio we are in a position to help them.” Sahoo says that although the presence of an existing Etisalat service in a given territory does make it more likely that they would consider a TV operation, it does not exclude those countries where there is no such operation by its sister company. “Of course, if we were in more than one territory we would be in a better bargaining position when
THE PAY TV LANDSCAPE
…The experience that we have gained … can be applied to other markets – especially ones where we have an existing Etisalat service already – in particular the KSA and Egyptian markets. HUMAID RASHID SAHOO CEO, E-Vision. SOURCE: Informa Telecoms & Media 2009
MENA PAY TV SUBSCRIBER NUMBERS Mid 2009
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COVER COVER STORY STORY
E-junior has established itslef as the leading children’s channel in the UAE.
purchasing content as we would be able to leverage the mass, not just the UAE. What is also important is offering content to more than one platform. Etisalat already has content plans for online, mobile and for kiosks so we can join with Etisalat to negotiate these rights not just for TV but for mobile and online distribution,” explains Sahoo. E-Vision currently offers the bouquets of OSN, ART and TFC in addition to a number of exclusive channels and two E-Vision branded channels, ejunior and e-masala. “I’m especially proud of e-junior. All the research we have done has proved that it has the biggest market share in its category for the UAE. We want e-junior to incorporate more local production and cover all the relevant events here in the UAE. We
...What is also important is offering content to more than one platform. We can join with Etisalat to negotiate these rights not just for TV but for mobile and online distribution. HUMAID RASHID SAHOO CEO, E-Vision.
have also invested in improving its online home. Kids here are very tech savvy so as well as watching e-junior on the TV they can go through the internet portal, it makes it closer to them.” Given the success of e-junior, is the telco likely to develop more e- branded channels? “First and foremost the goal of our content strategy is to meet our customer’s demands. As far as launching more e- channels… it is something we always monitor but we have to see the value for money in these. We have only the UAE audience so it has to be economically feasible.” Sahoo says the company is looking at other means of launching exclusive thrid-party channels. “We encourage content creators to launch their own channels just for our network – we have the
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E-Vision’s VOD slate includes Slumdog Millionaire.
capacity and the infrastructure. The cost of launching a new station is very high. We are talking to production houses – and other entities that own a lot of content – that want to launch a channel but are prohibited by the cost of satellite transponder space. They can instead launch through the E-Vision platform, and offer the channel to all our subscribers,” says Sahoo. In addition to these content agreements, Sahoo has also looked to differentiate E-Vision from its competitors by offering advanced services such as VOD and HD ahead of the rest of the market. “We were the first operator in the region to offer HD services when we launched it in July last year. We know that the number of HD TV sets in the UAE is very high. There is a strong likelihood that the format will be successful in this market,” says Sahoo. “We have eight HD channels at the moment and we will be adding two more soon and we expect to have 20 HD channels by the end of the year, which will be a very strong offering indeed. Movies and sports are the main drivers for HD, documentaries are also playing their part and the new launches will reflect that. We are encouraging broadcasters
in the Arab world and Asia to launch HD. It’s the real technology of the future.” With the acquisition of the EPL regional broadcast rights by Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) and the organisation’s subsequent announcement that it will be looking for IPTV partners to distribute it, the smart money would suggest that E-Vision would be at the head of the pack as its own full IPTV service begins to come together. “We are in discussions with ADMC and we hope that we can reach an agreement. It is very important. We hope to have something in place by August for the start of the next season, I think we have time.” One advantage Sahoo points out is the company’s recent order of new set top boxes from four manufacturers; Pace, Airties, Humax and Kreatel. These boxes, designed for use with the full IPTV service that is currently under construction, will all be HD compatible. “We have selected some partners already for the IPTV service and others are still in the process of evaluation,” says Sahoo. For the past six years E-Vision has operated a pay
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We would really love to offer 3D as soon as possible and I think the World Cup might not be too soon. Other networks around the world intend to show the event in 3D this year, so we will give it a shot too. HUMAID RASHID SAHOO CEO, E-Vision.
per view service and is now in the process of beta would E-Vision consider investing its own resource testing a more expansive service. into sports rights? “We are hoping that when we launch we will have “There is no point in us going to invest in rights two major Hollywood studios and a lot of Bollyfor sport that we can show in one country when our wood content available,” claims Sahoo who admits partners are investing in content for distribution that content security plays an important part in across the whole region. This year we hope to be discussions with major studios. able to offer the FIFA World Cup in the UAE. “It is very important for the studio to We had a lot of success with ART for the ensure that its content is secure and we two previous competitions and hopewill assure them of this. The contract fully we can repeat that this year. that we sign with them places this “Al Jazeera will decide whether it responsibility with us. We use is available as a one off or only as The number of audio conditional access from Viaccess part of a subscription. We will talk and video channels at the moment. We are going to available on the E-Vision with them to find the best way to introduce a cardless Verimatrix do it. Being able to broadcast it in platform. system as well. We will run these HD will make a difference.” systems in parallel. We always keep In typical E-Vision style HD is not security in mind and of course, for the stuthe limit of the company’s ambitions with dios it is very important. We have already proven Sahoo admitting they are considering 3D TV also. ourselves reliable partners and we have good “Sony will be filming much of the World Cup in 3D. relationships with the major content companies, We would really love to offer 3D as soon as possible particularly Warner Brothers,” says Sahoo. and I think the World Cup might not be too soon. With content from the studios meeting the movie Other networks around the world intend to show the aspect of the golden sports and movies combo, event in 3D this year, so we will give it a shot too.”
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DU MEDIA LABS XXXXXXXXXXX
THE I.T. CROWD
Du Media Labs and Eurosport recently launched an online joint venture in the region. Digital Broadcast speaks to the telco about its ﬁrst venture in the digital content market. 028 MARCH 2010
nternet penetration in the Middle East – particularly broadband services – may not be as high as in other regions but it does by far exceed the supply of high quality online content and services available to Arabic speakers. It is estimated that around seven percent of all the world’s internet users speak Arabic (including Diaspora) yet just one percent of web content is available in Arabic. A division of UAE telco du, du Media Labs, is embarking on a mission to pull these two statistics closer together through a number of high profile
web-based services and content delivery platforms. “Even that one percent of content that they have is off questionable quality,” says Raghu Venkataraman, chief strategy and investments officer, du. “People here know the internet is a place they can go to get knowledge but they don’t have the products that are designed for them. If you go to a developed market and look at what content is available in any domain – sports, entertainment, electronics – there will be 10, 15, 20 companies competing, each taking a different angle or a particular position on the way they handle the content www.digitalproductionme.com
DU MEDIA LABS
and the audience they target. Here in this part of “Eurosport Arabia is the first venture, and is very the world, people are forced to seek other sources much reflective of what the company is aiming to of information. These will probably not be in their achieve. Eurosport already had a strong reputation language, or designed with them in mind.” for sports content and it has a track record online in Venkataraman says that many genres of content China, it works with Yahoo! in the UK and Ireland or service in the region often have no locally proand and across Europe. We work with the company duced online material supporting them. to work out the regional sporting calendar that “Often there will not be a single option in this we should cover. Du runs the sales and marketmarket serving a particular sector. The web audiing aspect and promotes the product and ensures ence here is big enough to warrant several success people are aware of the product and they now have stories from numerous players, and we hope to be a choice in the domain of sports.” one of them in various categories.” Since the launch, the site has enjoyed Towards the end of last year, du a lot of success with the high octane launched a partnership with Eurofootball matches between Algeria pean sports giant Eurosport and and Egypt bringing much of traffic introduced Eurosport Arabia to The estimated percent- for the fledgling site. the region. The FTA broadcaster, “We had certain projections for age of content on the which has nine other geographiinternet currently avail- the first year of operations and in cally targeted websites, manages the initial two months we around able in Arabic. the editorial side with a team of five times ahead of those projecjournalists from across the Middle tions,” reveals Venkataraman. East and North Africa providing content Despite the positive reception that the tailored for a regional audience. website has been met with, Venkataraman says “The major internet brands have a tendency to the site’s success will be judged on how it builds on take a global product and offer it in Arabic. When it this early popularity and whether it can sustain the comes to investment, the MENA region is often left momentum it has established. out. They decide their money is better spent else“The charter for du Media Labs is to create a where. Our belief is we live here, we operate here if digital content delivery business. We have looked we don’t do it who will?” says Venkataraman. to bring people in from outside the telco world.
The major internet brands have a tendency to take a global product and offer it in Arabic. When it comes to investment, the MENA region is often left out. Our belief is... We operate here if we don’t do it who will? RAGHU VENKATARAMAN Chief strategy and investments ofﬁcer, du.
EUROSPORT ARABIA STOP THE PRESS The Eurosport Arabia portal offers customised news and live scoring for ten markets within the MENA region with an editorial team recruited from the GCC, the Levant and North Africa ensuring that the entire region can be served with relevant local content. The site also offers an Arabic take on the major international sporting events. The journalists have access to 50 TV channels viewed at their desktops via an IPTV network. Using this access they can provide live text commentary interlaced with user generated content from the audience, Eurosport Arabia can offer coverage of major events in Arabic that have not previously been available to Arabicspeakers in their own language. Together with Eurosport’s Paris bureau (to provide French language options for North African audiences) and the network of stringers working for the company in the ﬁeld, the portal’s editorial content is then fused with ads served by Google DoubleCick.
MARCH 2010 029
DU MEDIA LABS
Despite some reports suggesting that it will take till 2014 for the MENA region to acquire 27 million broadband subscribers the pace of the rollout varies from country to country with many Gulf nations already surpassing the 50 percent mark. With such a mixed availability of infrastructure in the region, are there really enough users to support a number of mass-appeal websites? “Everyone wants rich media. The question is how many people can afford it?” says Venkataraman. “The region is too diverse. The Gulf States can afford great infrastructure, it is a priority for them. in Egypt there is ﬁerce competition among the ISPs and as a result broadband is becoming increasingly accessible. This is happening at different speeds in different markets so you have to take it country by country.”
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Telecom operators tend to think in a certain way. They are used to the idea of walled gardens, marketing their portals to their customers and thinking how to use it as a point of differentiation from the competition. It has to be about what wider audiences want and also about what the major brands would like to available to them from an advertising space perspective. “A telco content portal will only allow advertisers to speak to consumers who also happen to be subscribers to that operator. It doesn’t make sense. The brands don’t want that,” says Venkataraman. Despite this Venkataraman believes there is an important role for telco operators to play with the wider chain of the digital content delivery business. “We need the operators. If the internet is going to succeed in the region operators have to play a meaningful role. They spend millions on building network infrastructure then are cut out of the value creation. Organisations like Google are making money out of the internet and they are doing so without the operators getting anything for the investments they are putting in the ground. AT&T enjoyed huge success with the iPhone but it had to spend around US $400 million upgrading its 3G infrastructure to support the demand. Our projects will propose services directly to end users but we will offer operators value. For example, if we were going to run a content sales operation, we would love to look at a payment solution with the operators so they can participate in the value creation. We W would like to create unique, white label un services just for them. se They could market our services or act as an se additional channel for ad content. As part of du co we w have the opportunity to try out that business plan. pl If I can make it work w with du, I can make it work with other m telco te operators in the region as well,” suggets re Venkataraman. V Online advertising continues to constitute co a small percentage of total to spend in the region regardless of the numerre ous ou analysts reports predicting a surge in pr
Above: A French version of Eurosport Arabia serving North African markets.
digital advertising. Venkataraman believes there is an opportunity for content creators and distributors online, but that the predicted flow of online ad dollars will only come once these platforms are in place and operational. “The marketing departments at the big brands understand digital media. They know what it is about. The problem is that if they want to move ten percent of their advertising budgets to digital platforms, there is a shortage of quality online and mobile spaces for them to spend this budget on,” says Venkataraman. www.digitalproductionme.com
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OPEN SKIES Satellite broadcasting can deliver clear, uniform signals across the entire Middle East region. However, the laws and regulations guiding the industry can be unclear and their boundaries blurred, writes Sonya Shaykhoun. 034 MARCH 2010
he MENA satellite TV industry owes its success in part to the Gulf War, which began on January 1991, a time when a spate of MENA-oriented satellite TV channels and, indeed, TV platforms appeared. For example, the Egyptian-government owned Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) bought space capacity on a previously unused transponder to broadcast programs on a channel that would become the Egyptian Space Channel. Orbit, (now Orbit Showtime Network), launched from Rome in 1994 and the Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) launched in London in 1991. Now there are reportedly more than 400 channels transmitting in the MENA region via satellite, including a slew of Western channels such as CNN and France TV, a significant increase from the 13
channels that were in operation in 1993. Satellite TV broadcasting regulation did not develop at the same pace as the commercial industry in MENA and as such, satellite channels and platforms, many of which are privately owned, escaped blanket censorship to a large extent and a new era of more open political discussion and debate in Arab broadcasting was born. Notwithstanding the lack of formal censorship of satellite TV, the Saudi-owned channels of MBC and ART all engaged in self-censorship, although there are exceptions, such as the notoriously uncensored Al Jazeera. Not all satellite channels have escaped censorship. “Jamming”, typically a deliberate action affecting the immediate geographical area of the transmitter’s range, is a term that describes the transmission of radio or TV signals disrupting the www.digitalproductionme.com
signal to prevent reception on the ground. Deliberate jamming breaches international law, although inadvertent signal interference (as a result of a badly tuned or unduly powerful transmitter for example) is quite ordinary. Jamming is often a political act, practiced by many administrations around the world: the United States is known to have recently jammed legal Cuban radio and TV news broadcasts; Indonesia jammed Tongan satellite signals in 1997; Cuba, Libya, Syria and Egypt have all reportedly jammed foreign satellite signals for ostensibly political motivations. The most notable recent example of jamming in the MENA region involved the ostensibly deliberate jamming of foreign TV stations in Iran during the June 2009 presidential elections, which impacted the transmission of BBC Persian programming and www.digitalproductionme.com
Farsi-language satellite broadcasts of the Voice of America. Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders noted that the Internet and mobile network became slow and that sites like YouTube, Facebook and several pro-reform sites were difficult or impossible to access. Iran could be described as a chronic offender, having jammed foreign language news shows, Radio Farda and VOA English during the 2005 presidential elections. Ironically, in 2003, then-President Khatamei and Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi demanded that a certain military organisation within Iran stop transmitting disruptive signals over Tehran from military bases and mobile vehicular stations. Such signals were known to be jamming satellites. In addition the Health Ministry and Department of the Environment became involved as the signals have a deleterious effect on citizens and the environment. Politics and satellite TV often clash in the MENA region, as proven by the unceremonious ejection of various TV channels from Media Cities in the region. However, political interference can work in a positive manner. For example, in December 2009 when the Egyptian President successfully stopped state-owned Media Production City from taking Orbit, which broadcasts a popular current affairs programme entitled Al Qahera Al Youm (Cairo Today), off air. The clash between politics and the satellite broadcasting industry begs the question of what legal recourse satellite TV channels and platforms have against jamming and/or forced closure. This article examines the legality of closing down satellite channels and blocking signals in the MENA region in the context of international and regional law and what satellite operators and/or satellite TV channels can do in the event they are subjected to jamming or forced closure. The commercial satellite industry is governed by international treaties and international customary law applied at an international, regional and national level. However, there is a constant tension between international space law and the concept of national sovereignty. The United Nations (UN) sponsored treaties and principles form an international legal framework for international space law on the basis that space should be open to all mankind without discrimination and to establish a global principle ensuring that the benefits of space exploration and use should be extended to all mankind without reference to wealth or might. Article 1 of the Outer Space Treaty, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) of
Satellite broadcasting regulation is inherently political, underlining the tension between the publicâ€™s international legal rights, national sovereignty and private commercial interests. Determining who is right or wrong is always a delicate balanceâ€Ś Unfortunately, satellite TV channels will sometimes be scapegoats if the balance of power tips against them. SONYA SHAYKHOUN Attorney, Charles Russell LLP. MARCH 2010 035
Another organisation involved in the shape of international satellite broadcasting laws is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Its principles are generally deemed to be guidelines rather than binding laws. The Declaration of the Guiding Principles on the Use of Satellite Broadcasting and the Free Flow of Information, the Spread of Education and Greater Cultural Exchange (“Declaration”), set out some basic tenets regarding the international law/national sovereignty dichotomy as regards and the importance of obtaining prior consent before broadcasting into a foreign territory. Satellite broadcasting: “shall be guided by the principles and rules of international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations and the Outer Space Treaty” (Article I); “shall respect the sovereignty and equality of all States” and “shall be apolitical and conducted with due regard for the rights of individual persons and non-governmental entities, as recognised by States and international law” (Article II). The Declaration stipulates that “the objective of satellite broadcasting for the promotion of cultural exchange is to foster greater contact and mutual understanding between peoples by permitting audiences to enjoy, on an unprecedented scale, programmes on each other’s social cultural life including artistic performances and sporting and other events”. 036 MARCH 2010
lite broadcasting akin to regulation. For example, 13 December 1963, expresses this concept which is when, in 1997, France Telecom made a technical echoed in the current regulation of satellite comerror that resulted in ten minutes of sexually munications regarding the use of radio spectrum explicit programming on GCC televisions Arabsat and orbital positions. confiscated its orbital slot, despite unsuccessful The International Telecommunications Union diplomatic efforts to rectify the situation. (ITU), headquartered in Geneva, is the UN agency ASBU is a not-for-profit professional organisation for information and communication technology promoting initiatives including “the spirit issues and the global focal point for governof Arab brotherhood”, inter-Arab and ments and the private sector in develinternational cooperation, repreoping networks and services. The senting member-organisations, ITU, however, is scant on enforceThe latest tally of FTA and coordinating and defending ment capabilities should one of the channels in the MENA the positions and interests of Arab Member States offend the internaregion according to Arab states in the international arena. tional order. The French National Advisors Group. ASBU focuses on engineering, Frequencies Agency (ANF) recently radio, sports and television broadappealed to the ITU over a period of casting and cooperates with the Arab seven months to stop Iran from blockLeague’s specialised agencies and moniing satellite signals from the BBC World tors the progress of joint projects, implementing Service’s Persian language broadcasts into Iran. resolutions and recommendations issued by the A result is still pending. Arab Information Ministers Council and the Arab With the proliferation of satellite channels in Information Standing Committee. ASBU’s Satellite the MENA region, satellite television broadcasting regulation is a hot topic. Organisations that provide Channels Coordinating Committee participated in the development of a code of conduct for transnaguidance and regulation in this regard are: the tional broadcasters that makes compliance a ITU’s Arab Regional Office (ARO) in Egypt, precondition of membership. When Al Jazeera established in 1991, which presents Arab failed to conform to the unwritten Arab telecommunications policies and regulamedia standards, the Committee rejected tory issues to the ITU; the Arab Satellite its membership application. Communications Organisation (ArabThe Arab League of States is a sat), an intergovernmental organisavoluntary organisation comprised of tion established in 1976 whose independent, primarily Arabicshares are owned by the Arab speaking, countries that aims to member states in different por“build ties among the member tions; the Arab States Broadstates, coordinate their casting Union (ASBU); policies and promote their and, the Arab League common interests.” The of States, founded in Arab League partici1945. Membership of pates in programs Arabsat, ASBU and of a political, ecothe Arab League nomic, cultural gives rights and social and imposes nature of responsibiliinterest to ties with its memregard bers. to satel-
The International Telecommunications Union can control spectrum issues to a degree, however, activities such as signal jamming are harder to regulate. www.digitalproductionme.com
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A number of international and regional organisations provide a mix of optional guidelines and enforced laws. The result can be a confusing combination that is often manipulated for political purposes.
Its remit, however, recently extended to satellite TV broadcasting and regulatory issues. The Arab League Satellite Broadcasting Charter, promulgated by the Arab League in February 2008, provides guidelines for the proliferation of free-toair and encrypted satellite channels broadcasting in MENA. With the exception of Qatar and Lebanon (Arab League decisions are only mandatory for signatories) all Arab League states signed the Charter. The Charter aims to provide “the frameworks and principles required for organising broadcasting and audio visual satellite reception in the Arab world”. Despite its broad principles, including the right to “express opinions, preserve Arab culture and promote cultural dialogue through satellite broadcasting” (Article 1) and the requirement to adhere to the “religious and ethical values of Arab society” (Article 6), it does not just pay lip-service to regulation and non-compliance can be punished with license retraction in its home country. Dissenters complained that the Charter infringes on public freedoms since the broadness of the principles lends itself to wide interpretation. For example, Egypt closed down three satellite TV channels and confiscated satellite transmission equipment thus preventing the broadcast of forty channels, including Al Jazeera, Dubai TV and France TV, within two months of signature. In January 2010, Arab information ministers convened in Cairo to review the Egyptian-Saudisponsored proposal for a regional satellite TV supervisory office, the Office for Arab Satellite 038 MARCH 2010
ASBU’s Satellite Channels Coordinating Committee participated in the development of a code of conduct for transnational broadcasters that makes compliance a precondition of membership. When Al Jazeera failed to conform to the unwritten Arab media standards, the Committee rejected its membership application. SONYA SHAYKHOUN Attorney, Charles Russell LLP.
Television. This is seen as a partial response to the American House of Representative’s recent bill that may cause satellite operators being identified as “terrorist entities.” Furthermore, Reporters Without Borders expressed concern that such an office may abuse its powers, shutting down channels that offend governments, either directly or indirectly, and infringing on privately owned satellite TV platforms. Al Jazeera, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar are said to be the primary target of the Office. Satellite broadcasting regulation is inherently political, underlining the tension between the public’s international legal rights, national sovereignty and private commercial interests. Determining who is right or wrong is always a delicate balance, especially in the MENA region. International law stipulates that each nation shall have equitable access to spectrum and orbital resources while simultaneously respecting states’ national sovereignty. MENA regional organisations demand cultural, religious and political fidelity. National regulatory bodies can be heavily monitored and in some cases controlled by governments and their information ministers. Countries are bound to international space law voluntarily and the ITU’s enforcement powers are weak. Unfortunately, satellite TV channels will sometimes be scapegoats if the balance of power tips against them. This article was written by Sonya Shaykhoun, New York qualified Attorney at Charles Russell LLP in Bahrain. www.digitalproductionme.com
Content delivery networks and transport methods, particularly by IP, are helping broadcasters cut their contribution costs and boost their workďŹ‚ows. Digital Broadcastt examines the savings and services available today.
040 MARCH 2010
he globalisation of content productionduring the past decade means there has been a dramatic increase in the volume of video material moving around the globe. Whether it is Turkish soaps dominating the ratings in the Gulf, Latin American telenovelas making waves in Eastern Europe or the global distribution of highlight reels from an international sports event, broadcasters need an efficient, reliable and cost-effective means of transport. Content production is also now a global process with post-production frequently outsourced and the amount of material dubbed and subtitled for international markets also on the rise. Before the days of tapeless workflows, the options were fairly limited with the shipping of tapes the only realistic method. Today there are a number of service providers offering file transfer services specifically for the broadcast industry. Of these, the largest is SmartJog, a French-owned During the downturn company with activities in 65 countries. The comwe have also seen an pany has forged strong relationships with the major increase in the uptake Hollywood studios and networks, distributing the latest episodes of premium network TV series to of our services beyond international licence holders. the delivery itself... “Here in the US the studios or their post-production partners all have one of our servers,” says Joe These are services that DiBianca, vice president, SmartJog. “The network have become necesis completely closed, we have dedicated servers sary in order to remain at each location where content is being sent to or from. The content is fully encrypted during the competitive. travel path – using a 256 AES encryption. Each user also needs a USB key and an associated PIN number in order to log into the network. There is no JOE DIBIANCA use of any public internet.” Vice president, SmartJog. DiBianca says that because SmartJog uses a closed, dedicated feed, it can offer better value than sending tapes by courier or relying sen on a live satellite contribution slot. ““Often clients would choose a live satellite signal and would book a ccertain time and download it at that point. That can be quite costly. tha SmartJog uses high-speed internet Sm connectivity but by fibre or satelcon lite. The client decides whether lite they want to connect via fibre or by the satellite. Most customers already sat have dishes pointed at the satelhav lites we use,” explains DiBianca. lite ““We have an acceleration protoThe MENOS team receiving the IBC Innovation award. col that operates on either method www.digitalproductionme.com
of connection. In the Middle East we have seen the dedicated satellite connectivity option prove popular, most likely because the price of internet bandwidth is high. Outside of the US, most traffic has been coming from Latin America with a lot of telenovelas from Brazil, Argentina and Mexico going to Europe, especially Eastern Europe. We are finding lot of our post-production clients are opening major offices in India so we are finding a lot of traffic to and from India. That market is certainly a grow area for us.” The onset of the recession has brought with it a renewed interest in content transport methods as broadcasters look for ways to trim their operational costs and improve efficiency. “During the downturn we have also seen an increase in the uptake of our services beyond the delivery itself. Couriering tapes can be an expensive option, especially when you factor in the cost of shipping, customs charges, the tape duplication and the man-hours that all this takes,” says DiBianca. “We are finding that the broadcasters need a tailored solution. We have had to add some additional services such as web integration to allow broadcasters to integrate – or at least ‘handshake’ – SmartJog with their own proprietary systems. “For the broadcasters using the SmartJog server, we also have something called SmartTools, which is a software transcoding and wrapping tool provided as part of the service. It allows the broadcasters to receive the file and then launch certain automation or transcodes automatically upon file reception. This process can ease their workflow significantly,” explains DiBianca. “These are services that have become necessary in order to remain competitive. On the distribution side, some broadcasters want to receive a very specific filetype but often the studios will only want to make a certain type of file available. ab So we can step in the middle and an transcode the file from the original to the specification that or the th broadcaster wants. That can help h save costs as the transcoding process is included as part of the pr service. When you consider these se other ot related parts of the business and an the benefits to the overall workfl ow, it becomes a very ecow nomical option,” says DiBianca. n In addition to the cost and convenience benefits that the co company has been looking to co MARCH 2010 041
Delivering a consumer video experience over the internet requires some smarter trafﬁc management. Arvato Mobile operates throughout the chain from the technical infrastructure to designing the customer interface. “We are positioned as a service provider covering all forms of distribution,
management,”” says Ingo I Lalla, VP IPTV and platform services, Arvato Mobile. “The way digital natives are consuming video is totally different to 15 years ago when video only meant TV. We help our clients to distribute their content services cross-platform.” One such service Arvato Mobile develops is online video streaming. The company uses an adaptive bit rate method that matches the best possible resolution to the viewers internet speed, changing as additional capacity comes and goes. “On top of that we also blend the CDNs,” explains Lalla. “If the ﬁrst data packages are very important we will use the CDN with the best quality. If the latter packages are not that time critical, we take the packages from a cheaper CDN. We can pass this value on to clients,” says Lalla. 042 MARCH 2010
ADAPTING BIT RATES
develop for its clients, SmartJog has also developed a data integrity guarantee based upon an MD5 checksum algorithm, which DiBiance describes as a “fingerprint” of the file. “This is calculated when a file is sent and again upon receipt. If the two match, then it means that the data integrity has not been affected during the delivery process. Often with live contribution, the satellite signal is weak or there can be a frame drop. This is not possible with our network. When a user gets a delivery notification email, that is a guarantee that the MD5 checksum matched at either end,” says DiBianca. SmartJog has become a major player in the content industry and is now ingrained into multiple layers of the production and distribution processes. “We handle the pre-release dubbing to international territories. We are also involved in digital cinema, so in some studios we are sending full cinema features and trailers. All of the studios are using us in one capacity or another. Some are connected directly on the lot as well as through post-production partners. In the past two years we have had requests from several of the majors to integrate our solution directly into their asset management systems that’s been really important,” says DiBianca. Content transport and contribution offerings can now provide a number of other services on top of the transfer itself leading to the creation of a number of managed service operators finding success in the broadcast sector. “There has been a switch from broadcasters
wanting technologies to wanting services. Most broadcasters don’t want to build and operate their own platforms so we are seeing hosted services and integrated solutions on the rise,” says Simon Pryor, MENOS marketing manager, Newtec. “Even when using satellite, broadcasters are thinking more in megabits than megahertz. They are thinking about IP links, and that is applicable to satellite as well as other networks,” adds Pryor. “In the past a lot of business was based on permanent naked, space links which were expensive and relatively inflexible. Today, it is about integrated, flexible services that can make things more cost effective,” says Pryor. The MENOS system provides the usual exchange and contribution services that the broadcast industry needs. However, as it is an IP-based network, the technology has also enabled a number of additional beneftits for users. “We can provide instant messaging, VoIP, elearning services. These have their roots in other fields and they are things that the broadcasters wouldn’t have appreciated would be possible across their networks. As they are learning and migrating onto these platforms they are beginning to evolve and understand the types of IP services possible and all the benefits that these can offer.” Pryor admits that this flexibility brings with it an increased level of complexity, but broadcasters are more than willing to adapt. “They are evolving very quickly and have enormous competitive pressures that weren’t there in the past. They are looking for more cost effective
SmartJog’s ﬁle transfer service and other similar oﬀerings are providing operational cost savings for broadcasters during the economic downturn. www.digitalproductionme.com
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There are a number of cases of ďŹ bre cables being cut by shipsâ€™ anchors or natural disasters. Satellite has proven itself resilient. SIMON PRYOR MENOS marketing manager, Newtec.
solutions due it their challenging budgets. Increasingly they are looking for more cost effective solutions and how they can share resources with other people to make the business proposition more interesting,â€? says Pryor. The MENOS project is a collaboration between the Arab States Broadcasting Union, Arabsat and Newtec. Originally only available to ASBU member broadcasters, the service has since been opened up to commercial channels and other non-members as it looks to expand throughout the region beyond. â€œWe are seeing interest from countries such as Saudi Arabia, which is looking to expand its TV and radio offerings. There is a lot of from those countries with less developed infrastructure, they are looking to MENOS as it can provide immediate coverage of their entire country without the need to lay cables or the roll out other terrestrial networks. As well as MENA there has also been interest from East Africa, West Africa and southern Africa, despite all the new submarine cables that are being deployed around Africa and the Middle East.â€? Pryor says that as satellite operators launch new hardware to serve the Middle East, Newtec will
look to exploit the additional capacity to expand the number of customersm MENOS services as well as the geographic footprint of the network. â€œOur immediate limit is satellite capacity. There is some room for expansion at the moment but ultimately it is something that is limiting MENOS at the moment. This should be resolved by the middle of this year when we get more bandwidth. Some of the customers that we have talked to, will only come online when that capacity is made available,â€? reveals Pryor. The argument in favour of dedicated fibre line file transfer is that these services permit point-to-point delivery. Satellite transmission requires broadcasters to pay to send the information over a wider footprint, even if there is only one intended recipient. â€œItâ€™s true that in point-to-point certain types of infrastructure work well but satellite has the advantage when you are sending the same contribution to multiple broadcasters at the same time. One of the other issues is resilience. There are a number of cases of fibre cables being cut by shipsâ€™ anchors or natural disasters. Satellite has proven itself resilient,â€? says Pryor.
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044 MARCH 2010
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ROHDE & SCHWARZ
MAKING WAVES Broadcast and communications electronics developer Rohde & Schwarz has re-afﬁrmed its commitment to the region with the opening of its new MEA HQ in Dubai. Digital Broadcast speaks to regional MD Vikas Eshwarahally about the company’s long-standing relationship with the Middle East.
when they are being discussed for the first time ohde & Schwarz (R&S) has played an and we provide the tools to develop these,” explains integral role in the development of nuEshwarahally. merous broadcast and communication Rohde & Schwarz has recently increased its standards and technologies both within presence in the region with the opening of new the Middle East and internationally. It was the first headquarters covering the Middle East and Africa to develop GSM protocols, it manufactured the in Dubai Media City. first test and measurement equipment for DVB-T “It’s not just a symbolic gesture, we operate from and also built the first network for the terrestrial the Middle East, we employ people from the region standard in the UK in 1998. In the Middle East it played an integral role in the and make use of the competence in this market – the skilled labour force that is already present construction of the region’s first DVB-H nethere and has experience working in the work in Qatar and is an active member region – which ultimately has the of the consortium looking to rollout a benefit that we are very close to our similar service for the UAE. customers,” says Eshwarahally. “The network in Qatar has This statement is backed up been up and running since last Rohde & Schwarz’s net by the string of success stories year”, says Vikas Eshwarahally, revenue for the ﬁscal the company has achieved in the managing director, Rohde & year 2008/2009. Middle East. It is also something Schwarz Middle East and Africa. Rohde & Schwarz is keen to build on “Such a network comes with a lot of in the future. challenges not lest of all achieving full “We decided to expand these relationships indoor coverage. Doha has many high rise with our local presence in UAE as headquarters buildings and customers expect to have coverage for Middle East and Africa in order to provide our literally everywhere. customers an improved level of support and service,” “R&S did the network planning and optimisasaid Christian Leicher, president and COO, R&S. tion of the network in synchronous mode and it “We have also made a point of making use of has been extremely well received by Qtel,” says the local skilled manpower available in the region. Eshwarahally adding that the network has met or Additionally we have expanded our presence in exceeded the coverage requirements stipulated by other parts of the region, particularly in the Saudi the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Arabian and South African markets. “R&S is also part of the DVB-H consortium in the “Direct local presence enables better and faster UAE. The process has taken longer than initially service as well as support to our customers. In turn thought. We have done the network planning for it enables us to have a better understanding of local this across the whole UAE, the proposal is not just markets and cultures which will help stabilise our for Dubai.” business plans for the region. By taking these steps “As far as technology development is concerned, we also cement our commitment and trust in the we don’t ever want to be second. We don’t get markets in the Middle East and Africa,” adds Leicher. involved when a technology arrives, we get involved
MARCH 2010 047
ROHDE & SCHWARZ
We consider the Middle East and Africa as one of the most dynamic regions in the world offering a large business potential to R&S. There is a fast growing mobile industry and we see large investments in infrastructure projects, driven by a stable income from natural resources. By and large, demand has remained strong throughout the ﬁnancial crisis. Traditionally, we have strong partnerships in the region going back more than 25 years. They form the basis for long lasting and trustful relations with our customers and partners in the area. R&S is present in more than 70 countries worldwide, most of which are served by local R&S subsidiaries. It is part of our core strategy to build long-term relationships with our customers around the world and to make a strong commitment to the markets we operate in. Therefore it is a quite natural step for the company to increase its commitment to this region by reinforcing the local presence with the new ofﬁce in Dubai.
Christian Leicher, president and COO, Rohde & Schwarz.
048 MARCH 2010
EMBRACING THE MARKET
CHRISTIAN LEICHER, PRESIDENT AND COO, ROHDE & SCHWARZ
The company already had 60 employees in the UAE at its service subsidiary and has had a direct local presence for the past 15 years. “In the years since we started we have grown our presence dramatically and we now operate from South Africa to Egypt, from the UAE to Jordan,” says Eshwarahally. If we have people in the headquarters they need to be able to travel throughout the MEA region so we need to have the infrastructure here in terms of telecoms, transport, accommodation and other facilities. You also need to have the qualified manpower, it is not easy to find this everywhere in the region and these reasons drove us to choose Dubai.” The new HQ houses 20 staff at the moment in addition to the service staff with Eshwarahally revealing that this number could rise as high as 60 during the next two years. “These hires will be across all departments. We are also in the process of establishing an office in Saudi Arabia, which has been one of our key markets. The UAE remains our biggest regional market. Saudi Arabia is one of the most stable for the broadcast and communication sector. One of the biggest success stories in the region has been our broadcasting business – we have won more or less all the turnkey projects in our field in Bahrain, UAE and Qatar during the past 12 months.” Despite the downturn – which has caused a slight reduction in revenues for R&S – the company has performed well with Eshwarahally attributing some of this success to the company’s diverse portfolio and long history in the industry. “The advantage for us has been that we have not relied on one particular area. We want to be the leader in every technology area that we operate in and the business is supported on four pillars; test and measurement, monitoring, broadcast and
communications and this gives us a very stable base to overcome the current economic challenges,” explains Eshwarahally. “As a family-run business we have no debts with any bank. The company runs on its own operating income. Much of this is invested in research and development activities. This means that the company is essentially funding its own growth and development using its own capital. This is a healthy position to be in and has helped during the past 18 months. Trust has become a big issue in the industry. If clients are going to pay a big down payment they want to know where that money is going to go as the company may go bust tomorrow,” he claims. Eshwarahally has also seen a change in customers purchasing priorities in recent years as the downturn forces customers to scrutinise their outgoings more carefully before making major investments in new infrastructure. “Rohde & Schwarz products are known as being high-end. Customers know that they are going to get high quality. The criteria that is used in Europe when selecting technology has involved looking at the life cycle cost of a product rather than just the initial price, and this is a key point. In the Middle East, we are now seeing all the customers revert to this way of thinking. They are looking carefully not just at the expense of procuring new infrastructure, but at the operating, maintenance and servicing costs over the lifetime of the product.” In some instances this has led the company to review some of its products and the way they are marketed, shifting more emphasis on to the longterm benefits. “With our high power transmitters, we have had to look very hard at the power consumption. I believe that we now have the most efficient in the industry. When an operator is launching a network www.digitalproductionme.com
ROHDE & SCHWARZ
As far as technology development is concerned, we don’t ever want to be second. We provide the tools to develop these [new technologies]. VIKAS ESHWARAHALLY Managing director, Rohde & Schwarz MEA.
it is not just one transmitter, it could be as many as 1500. The additional cost of acquiring more efficient transmitters can be recouped within between five and seven years, purely from the energy savings. Reliable equipment also helps broadcasters to fulfi l contracts with advertisers regarding signal quality and availability,” says Eshwarahally. “Typically their clients will insert clauses that require the broadcaster to guarantee that the channel is on air for a
certain percentage of the time. Problems with the transmission network can cost them money directly as if they fail to meet these requirements, the advertiser will not pay the full rate. “A more expensive but more reliable system can also cut maintenance expenses. When you consider how remote some of these locations are – particularly in a country such as Saudi Arabia – these costs can be very high.”
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MARCH 2010 049
AR IN FOCUS XXXXXXXXXXX
ADMC’s Issam Al Jammal demonstrates the AR application developed for its Majid magazine.
REALITY BYTES Abu Dhabi Media Company is leading the development of augmented reality (AR) applications in the Middle East. Digital Broadcast gets a sneak peak at the technology and the company’s AR plans. 050 MARCH 2010
ugmented reality has been tipped by technology experts the world over as being the next big game changer. Proposed applications are incredibly diverse from helping heart surgeons make AR plots on organs during surgery to aiding complex industrial processes to personal entertainment, media applications and marketing campaigns. The technology involves projecting video, 2D or 3D images on to real life objects when they are viewed through a camera. Several car manufacturers have used the technology to turn print adverts into 3D models of the product when they are help up to a webcam. For
media companies, the technology allows print, broadcast and online medium to be combined, driving cross-platform consumer awareness. The technology can also be an attractive incentive to advertisers and marketing firms. ADMC has been offering an AR game that is operated using a marker printed in its kids magazine Majid. “We decided to target kids first. As digital natives they are more open to new technologies – they just absorb it – and they will interact with it better,” says Issam Al Jammal, head of creative services, ADMC. “We are the first in the region to develop a game like this on AR. It is powered by Flash and runs directly www.digitalproductionme.com
AR IN FOCUS
off the website, there is no need for additional as well as an in-game camera, creating the appearsoftware, just an operational webcam. The techniance of virtual players in the studio alongside the cal part is not very complicated and everyday it is analysts. Both are able to move realistically around getting simpler and more powerful.” the studio set to demonstrate plays and techniques. So what benefits can the technology provide to Al Jammal refuses to rule out the possibility of media companies rather than to advertisers? AR playing a role in broadcast graphics at ADMC in “It can be about creating a common space. The the near future, saying that the company is looking magazine has been in the region for 32 years and at the full spectrum of potential uses across its it is the most read children’s publication. So it’s a broadcast, publishing and digital media operations. great tool to bring the print and online audiences “We think this would be a great product placetogether,” claims Al Jammal. ment avenue. It would also be great for public serOther applications in the broadcast vice announcement promotions and we are sphere involve using print titles to speaking to the Abu Dhabi Health Autrigger video hosted online which is thority about potential applications. particularly attractive for driving We can also develop educational traffic to the websites of popular uses so for example, we could have The value of the AR newspapers for example. The techan interactive 3D frog that appears market by 2014, comnology has also been integrated pared with $2m in 2010, on the page and you can dissect with broadcast graphics packages, it virtually. The scalability is also according to Juniper and has proved particularly useful great, there are already mobileResearch. for sports analysis. Technically, many based applications of AR and we will existing graphics systems allowing anbe looking at these in the future.” notations or highlighting significant positions or ADMC’s early move into AR is indicative of the areas on the pitch, are in fact basic AR applications. region’s progress in the development of technology. ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown show uses an “It is still early days for AR but we are looking augmented reality technique to do just this. Develat many other applications and we are looking to oped jointly by EA SPORTS Technology Licensing do these with increasing sophistication. It can go Group and ESPN’s Emerging Technology group, the anywhere. That’s why it is so hotly anticipated as Virtual Playbook uses feeds from in-studio cameras the next big thing,” says Al Jammal.
It is still early days for AR but we are looking at many other applications and we are looking to do these with increasing sophistication. It can go anywhere. That’s why it is so hotly anticipated as the next big thing. ISSAM AL JAMMAL Head of creative services, ADMC.
Main image: ADMC’s AR driving game; right: ESPN’s Virtual Playbook feature and the Mini 3D marketing application.
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Viewer expectations of news coverage are now sky high with audiences expecting video coverage immediately, regardless of the remoteness of a location. A number of technologies are now available offering solutions for journalists in the ﬁeld to compile footage fast and easily.
VISLINK Vislink’s ADVENT FlyDrive antenna system can be used as a ﬂyaway or semi-permanent vehicle mounted terminal for SNG applications. The 1.2m reﬂector dish and the accompaZabeel Hall, Stand ZO-11 nying drive units can be transported in two IATA weight-compliant ﬂightcases that can be transported by air as regular check-in baggage. The system can be attached to most roof racks and roof bar systems and without the need for specialist ﬁttings. It can be easily deployed by a single person, according to Vislink. A manual back-up to the motorised control allows for any problems encountered in the ﬁeld. “The FlyDrive continues to be a popular option for many regional broadcasters requiring a portable FlyAway system in addition to having the ﬂexibility to transform the same system into a temporary DriveAway system,” said Mather Al Ali, general manager, Vislink for the MENA region.
CABSAT Hall 2, Stand F2-3
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The ND SatCom SkyRAY Light IPS is an IP-based mobile VSAT system designed speciﬁcally for video broadcasting applications. The package includes a SkyRAY Light antenna, a SkyWAN satellite modem and a H.264 encoder. ND SatCom claims to have created an easy to operate system including a one-button automatic satellite pointing operation. IP-based voice and data applications can be used and integrated into existing networks in the studio. Both live and store and forward functions are possible on bandwidths between 512 kB/s to 6 MB/s. The system has a latency of just 0.35 seconds and can be readied for operation in less than ten minutes once the OB truck is stationary, according to ND SatCom. www.digitalproductionme.com
Satellite communications service provider Vizada offers a number of solutions for broadcasters including BGAN streaming for live video and store and forward and satellite phone services. The company works with a number of manufacturers and operators including Inmarsat, Iridium, Eutelsat and Thuraya. Vizada offers these products with its own added services for messaging, networking and security. These include SkyFile Video package hat allows users to edit, compress and send video via BGAN using one piece of software. There is no fee with users only paying for the airtime they use. Another application, SkyFile Access, allows users to send and receive large ﬁles via a dedicated FTP space.
Video transport developer Streambox’s Streambox Live application allows contributors to send video to a newsroom using the free encoding software via a laptop or a mobile phone. A number of transport methods are supported including BGAN, 3G/4G, VSAT, WiMAX or simply through a regular internet connection. Broadcasters then access the video from Streambox’s data centres allowing it to be decoded and used for live broadcast, web or mobile video. Contributors can download the encoding software for free and can attach a DRM tag to ensure that the video can only be accessed the intended target. The system includes automatic bandwidth negotiation to establish the most efﬁcient bitrate to use for that transfer. Streambox’s proprietary ACT-L3 video transport codec is used enabling both HD and SD video signals to be compressed.
INMARSAT Inmarsat provides the broadcast industry with telecoms toolsets such as mobile internet connections that have proven to be more useful (and more popular) as they have improved in sophistication. The company’s BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) services have previously offered web access in remote locations but as the speeds of the connection possible have risen BGAN has developed into a remote broadcasting tool. The latest iteration – BGAN X-Stream – can guarantee data speeds of between 384kbps to around 450kbps. The company counts Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and the local bureaux of CNN and BBC among the local users of its BGAN products. Al Jazeera English was the ﬁrst to use the BGAN X-Stream service. www.digitalproductionme.com
Breaking news: According to Streambox, a Streambox Live iPhone application is currently in beta testing. It will allow users to stream video directly from their iPhone to the Streambox server
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THURAYA UAE-based Thuraya Communications offers a number of services for journalists and other media professionals working in the ﬁeld that require connectivity. The company offers broadband data services through a number of paths including a capacity lease agreement or on an individual terminal basis charged per the volume of data sent and received. The ﬁrm’s mobile broadband services and satellite
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terminals can provide streaming rates of 384 Zabeel Hall, Stand ZP-1 kb/s and regular internet access at 444 kb/s. The terminals are the same size as A5 paper and the company offers the option of volume based charging and unlimited usage price plans and various bundling options. The company also manufactures GSM and satellite phones including the SO-2510 (pictured), which Thuraya claims to be the world’s smallest satellite handset.
BEEHIVE SYSTEMS Beehive Systems Vid’linkMOBILE is laptop-based newsgathering tool that allows journalists to transfer high quality video back to the newsroom over low bandwidths in store and forward mode. The software-based system compresses video allowing it to be transmitted over connections with typically low bandwidths such as dial-up and satellite phones. Vid’linkMOBILE Live can be used to deliver MPEG-4 video in realtime over bandwidths as low as 64 kb/s using a laptop connected to an Inmarsat satellite phone or an ISDN line. Incoming video viewing can be integrated into existing newsroom workﬂows.
Zabeel Hall, Stand ZG-11
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O N KW O YUR AUDIEN EC Content providers, are failing to satisfy consumer demand for TV/video services. If they do not respond to what consumers want, they risk a diminished place in the value chain or face losing it. www.digitalproductionme.com
he two primary reasons behind the failure to satisfy consumer demand are unattractive services and lagging regulations. Too many offerings are short on content or outdated, the content is in the wrong format, the services are confusing or laborious to use, the services donâ€™t let consumers watch TV/ video the way they want and providers charge too much for their services or content; Regulations have not kept pace with advances in technology, giving rise to an uneven playing field. In many instances, existing regulations prevent operators from creating compelling offerings. To successfully provide appealing TV solutions, the telecommunications industry, as well as pro-
viders and distributors of TV and video content, needs to base services and offerings on consumer wants, needs and behaviour. Th is includes reviewing and revising the regulations that control and limit the offerings on the market. Traditional TV distributors, as well as telecom service and content providers, are failing to satisfy consumer demand for TV/video services. Consumers will not accept just any TV/video offering. Instead, they actively seek and select solutions, such as alternative technologies and distribution channels, which best match their behaviour, needs and expectations. IPTV, mobile TV, computers, fi le-sharing and other new technologies give consumers access to MARCH 2010 057
New sources of video content are competing for audiences.
The adage “content is king” is particularly relevant to the TV industry. Today’s consumers are increasingly demanding more and developing new habits and behaviour, based in the conventional world of TV, as well as the internet world. This behaviour involves several kinds of media, a large selection of channels and a variety of platform technologies, such as YouTube, DVDs, video-on-demand (VOD), broadcast TV and mobile TV. Such an array of platforms also allows consumers to decide how, when, where and what they want to watch, as they can access, play and pause. 058 MARCH 2010
THE MULTI PLATFORM WORLD
new capabilities, services and options. At present, however, no single service or interface offers all the options or gives consumers the full control they need. To fi ll the void, more and more consumers are creating personalised, “home-brewed” solutions by mixing a variety of technologies, solutions and distribution channels that fit their habits and requirements. For example, after arriving home from a day at work or school, a consumer may switch on the TV (broadcast content) to check for any interesting programs or to simply relax. Then, they might decide to watch a movie they have downloaded to their computer (on-demand content). Later in the evening, the consumer might watch videos on YouTube (streamed, ondemand video content). Given the important role which content plays in everyday life, social pressure is strong; so strong that if users cannot access desired media via legal means, they may feel compelled to turn to alternative sources. The way people watch TV/video has changed, including what they demand and expect from solutions and technologies that offer content. Traditionally, people have watched TV/video in a broadcast-based way, but with the introduc-
tion of new services and distribution channels, more and more consumers are beginning to watch video content when they want. Broadcast TV and video content is sent or distributed at a certain time through a certain media; consumers see what is offered at that very moment. If consumers want to watch a particular program, they have to adjust their own schedule to fit the broadcast schedule. By recording a program, consumers transform it into on-demand content. Linear TV is ideal for relaxing and live events, allowing consumers to share the same experience. On-demand content allows consumers to decide when they want to watch something, meaning they are not forced to fit in with a TV schedule, and to some extent what they want to watch, depending on the range of content offered. Usability becomes even more important as more new advanced features, services and options are offered to consumers. The classical setting and role of TV/video is associated with relaxation and as an entertainment experience, such as a good movie. Good usability helps maintain this relaxed state or mood; poor usability interrupts it and “ruins” the experience. www.digitalproductionme.com
MORE INTERACTIVITY MORE FUNCTIONALITY MORE SECURITY BROADCAST / BROADBAND / MOBILE CONVERGENCE … NAGRA Media comprehensive pre-integrated end-to-end solutions accelerate the deployment of innovative hybrid services targeted to set-top boxes, portable media players, PCs and mobile devices. The pre-integration of NAGRA Media ACCESS world leading conditional access system, NAGRA Media SDP, an award-winning federated service head-end providing a central control mechanism across different delivery networks and consumptions devices, NAGRA Media GUIDE complete suite of rich applications for an intuitive and consistent high deﬁnition user experience and the NAGRA Media STB partners program, offers service providers a consistent set of solutions ensuring a rapid innovation cycle for advanced content business models.
… CALLS FOR A NEW GENERATION OF TV SOLUTIONS LEVERAGING THE BEST OF BROADBAND AND BROADCAST
The best way to ďŹ ght piracy is to make legal options more appealing than illegal ones. If existing legal alternatives were able to give consumers the same services or options as the illegal ones, the usage of illegal services would be greatly reduced.
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Unsatisfied consumers seek alternatives to er conventional content co and service providers an content at any time of co the day, often from any th location. Th is explains lo consumer interest in co on-demand, time-shift on and to some extent, an place-shift features. p l Th is ability has created new habits, such as unne managed TV/video with m on-demand watching on and puts new demands an on future solutions. TV and video has evolved dramatically in ev recent years. New techre nologies, such as IPTV no and the internet and an the content industry, th have given consumers a ha wealth of attractive TV w and video content. Telean com, TV and broadcast regu regulations and copyright com legislation have not kept up with a raft of rapid technical developments, giving rise to an uneven playing field. Unfortunately, because regulations lag behind, the managed-TV industry has been prevented from using such new technologies. Other content providers are also held back by other kinds of regulation or the lack of it. TV/video services, indeed all consumer services, should always adopt a consumer-based approach. The design and realisation of new services should be based on real knowledge of consumer behaviour, needs and demands. Why? Because consumers will always choose the solution that best fits their needs. All future TV/video solutions should be based on solid research about what consumers really want and the end product should meet these demands. An even playing field is central to this, but even without one, the managed TV/video and telecom industry should do its utmost to provide attractive consumer services, closing the gap as much possible with service providers who are able to exploit the capabilities of new technologies. To successfully satisfy consumer needs, the industry must: base future services on the fi ndings
of actual consumer behaviour research and real consumer needs, adapt regulations and technology to create an even playing field and build and offer user-friendly services. Regulators can create an even playing field by giving all distributors a fair and equal set of rules. All distributors should be allowed to benefit from the same technology-neutral, platform-agnostic and device-agnostic rules and conditions. Distributors should also be given fair and non-discriminatory treatment to compete by providing a wide range of legal and fairly priced content. Increasing the number of competitive legal solutions that align with end-user needs will help ensure the future of TV/video. The most important business issues requiring regulatory attention are the prerequisites for distributing legal, interactive, network-based media. Th is can be broken down even further. The evolution and promotion of interactive distribution networks calls for more symmetry in the regulatory environment across distribution networks, for example, by focusing on services not technology regulation. The promotion of industry standards for digital rights management, conditional access encryption and set-top box interfaces will give end-users a range of new choices. The best way to keep consumers satisfied is to give them what they really want. Th is approach should also serve as a basis to the long-term plan to regulate the playing field, by allowing traditional TV/video providers to compete fairly with other content and service providers. The best way to fight piracy is to make legal options more appealing than illegal ones. What is it about non-conventional services that consumers find so compelling? Consumer behaviour research reveals three main factors. Price; scope of content; virtually everything is available; one advantage in favour of legal services, on the other hand, is that providers can guarantee the quality of their content and fi nally access to content. If existing legal alternatives were able to give consumers the same services or options as the illegal ones, the usage of illegal services would be greatly reduced. In some cases users are forced to turn to illegal services to be able to watch what they want, when they want to. The goal should be to offer user-centred high-quality services that motivate consumers to stay legal; not a system or service that â€œforcesâ€? them to stay legal. This article was contributed by Ericsson. www.digitalproductionme.com
Interoperable. Integrated. Innovative.
Come see us at CABSAT MENA â€” stand ZB-21 To learn more, visit us at www.broadcast.harris.com/invenio Europe +44 118 964 8200 Sales.Europe@Harris.com
Middle East +971 4 433 8250 Sales.MiddleEast@Harris.com
ONE Company. ONE Direction. The Future.
SHOWSTOPPERS CABSAT and Satellite MENA heralds a number of new product releases and upgrades for the region. Digital Broadcast looks at some of the top technologies and services on display at the colocated events.
Snell Zabeel Hall, Stand ZD-1
nell will showcase a number of its solutions for creation, management, and distribution of content, all designed to ease broadcasters’ transition to digital, HDTV, and 3Gb/s operations. Making its ﬁrst CABSAT appearance, the Kahuna CF+, housed in a single compact 6 RU frame, is the most powerful and cost-effective 2.5-M/E production switcher on the market. This newest member of the Kahuna family serves as a stand-alone solution for sophisticated switching and offers more choice in space-constrained environments, according to the manufacturer. The Kahuna CF+ shares the same speciﬁcations of larger Kahuna systems, as well as a compact full-function control surface and the intuitive interface found in larger Kahuna products. The Kahuna CF+ supports external device control without additional boxes, ensuring smooth integration.
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Pharos Communications Zabeel Hall, Stand ZQ-24
haros Communications will launch a number of updates for its Mediator 4 automation and management platform at this year’s CABSAT exhibition. Mediator 4 provides a next-generation platform with integrated media management, workﬂow, control, automation and publishing, according to Pharos. The most signiﬁcant change on show is the complete integration of it multi-channel playout system, Playtime. There is also an updated meta-data input system allowing information such as genre, cast listing, director and additional trivia. www.digitalproductionme.com
Televes Middle East
Gazprom Space Systems
Hall 3, Stand E1-1
panish TV signal reception and distribution equipment manufacturer Televes will be presenting a number of new products at CABSAT this year including the worldwide
launch of the company’s IPTV set top box. Other highlights on the stand will include its latest range of modular headends for RF networks and a full range of ﬁbre network products. Televes HQ.
Nevion Zabeel Hall, Stand ZD-2
ideo transport provider Nevion will show the rugged portable housing FlashCase, designed for use with as many as ﬁve of its standard Flashlink ﬁbre transport or signal processing modules. The device can be used to connect camera site to OB vans or other facilities through a lightweight optical ﬁbre connection. This increases distance capabilities and elimi-
Blusens Hall 1, Stand G1-11
Hall 1, Stand D1-1
atellite and teleport operator Gazprom Space Systems will be discussing its services for Middle East clients at the Satellite MENA show. At present, 70 percent of the company’s international trafﬁc is from the Middle East. The region is serviced by its Yamal 202 satellite operating at 49 degrees East, which connects customers in the region with 60 geographical locations across the eastern hemisphere offering video distribution and internet links. The company is planning to quadruple its capacity by 2015 with the launch of new satellites that will enable it to offer DTH services.
nates ground current loops, while allowing for multiple signals in the same cable, simplifying cable infrastructure and reducing set-up time, according to the company.
Eurostar urostar a manufacturer of digital satellite receivers industry, will launch the Multimedia High Deﬁnition Twin Tuner PVR (ES-C4000 HD PVR) with iPhone streaming at this year’s CABSAT. The latest receiver allows the user to handle channel program recording while viewing another channel. iPhone users can now choose the program they would like to view and ﬂip through channels using their iPhones as remote control units. Viewers subscribing to pay TV Channels will have easy transition of their existing STBs to the ES-C4000 box without any compromise on their current bouquet.
Hall 3, Stand A3-3
“We want to be at the forefront of change by constantly developing futuristic technology. We are committed to bringing cutting-edge technologies enjoyed in developed markets to the Middle East,” says Raju T Jethwani, chairman, Eurostar Group. The Eurostar product portfolio spans several brands and encompasses a full range of satellite products and accessories. “Our dedication to bring HD broadcast systems enjoyed abroad to the region keeps in mind the distinct needs and demands for the region,” adds Jethwani.
lusens Interactive, the ﬁrm’s digital content market division, will be showcasing Blusens Television, which offers an endto-end OTT solution for TV operators. Blusens Television is a new concept that broadcasts live online, plus offering multiple digital leisure premium options thanks to its choice of thematic channels, claims the company. The system was created in order to grow along with new content sources, combining television and Internet digital contents and applying new commercial patterns.
MARCH 2010 063
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Set-Top Box and Over-The-Top Media Server Shipments Growing Steadily DATA
SOURCE: Infonetics Research
SHIFTING BOXES A
Video infrastructure vendors see their revenues drop as subscriber growth levels subside, however year-onyear results show huge improvement.
new report from international market research and consultancy firm Infonetics Research has detected a slight drop in the sales of IPTV and other video equipment. The study attributes the modest decline experienced in Q3 2009 to a reduction in the subscriber growth that had buoyed the market throughout the recession. As consumers looked to cut spending on entertainment and dining out, many were re-investing in premium TV services to fill the gap, a pattern witnessed across developed markets. The rate of this growth has now dropped off, although overall, pay TV operators are continuing to enjoy expanding subscriber bases. “The growth pace slowed for new video service subscribers and fewer existing subscribers upgraded to premium services, two unifying trends defining the IPTV and video market in the third quarter,” says Jeff Heynen, directing analyst, broadband and video, Infonetics Research. “Holiday shopping and new purchasers of HD TV sets will likely result in an upswing in premium service upgrades, but subscriber growth across the board will be tepid until macroeconomic conditions improve,” he added.
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Projected revenue globally of IPTV, cable and DTH pay TV operators in 2013.
Year on year increase in revenue for video infrastructure manufacturers. SOURCE: Infonetics Research
Worldwide set-top box (STB) revenue dropped six percent during the third quarter of 2009 with the reduction in the subscriber growth rate the main cause. There was also a decrease in the number of boxes purchased wholesale by operators re-stocking their supplies. Overall, worldwide revenue for video infrastructure vendors declined compared to the previous quarter but was up by a massive 90 percent compared to the same period last year. The report also monitored the market share of the major STB manufacturers with Motorola maintaining its position at number one with Cisco and Pace second and third respectively. According to further research by the Dell’Oro Group, Motorola and Cisco together account for more than 95 percent of all cable STBs in the US and more than 65 percent globally. Several emerging trends could break the duopoly in the immediate future. In the US, cable operators have been purchasing lower-end STBs as they look to entice terrestrial consumer to entry level digital cable services. The emergence of full two-way IPTV deployments will open the door for other STB makers to operate in markets previously dominated by major manufacturers. www.digitalproductionme.com
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