JEDDAH: IBRAHIM NAFFEE
Published — Friday 14 December 2012
Last update 14 December 2012 5:30 am
The CEO of YahLive, the UAE-based satellite broadcast platform, has confirmed that his company will soon broadcast the six Saudi TV channels in high-definition (HD).
In an interview with Ibrahim Naffee, Mohamed Youssif said the investment made in the broadcast technology of Saudi TV channels will ensure that Saudi TV remains at the forefront of the country’s move toward HD and delivers the very best quality signal to viewers. HD offers a true “being there” experience, Youssif said.
“YahLive will have 50 channels broadcast at 52.5E by the end of 2012 and many more in early 2013. Dubai Media Inc., Abu Dhabi Media, Saudi
TV and MBC are among the Arab channels that have been transferred to HD broadcasting technology. In addition to broadcasting these Arabic channels, we are supporting the conversion of their broadcast platforms to HD, enabling them to make a much quicker conversion than they would make otherwise,” he said.
Can you explain the role of technology in supporting the media? What are the advantages of HD in this field?
Technology drives social development. From the innovation of the printing press to the advent of radio and television, technology has facilitated communication and the widespread timely dissemination of information. Media have been at the forefront of each wave of the technological revolution, whether it is radio wave transmission or satellite distribution.
We are now witnessing the next generation of development in broadcast technology with the conversion of channels from standard-definition to high-definition. This is the next step in the 20-year technology cycle that first saw analogue signals progress to digital.
The momentum behind the conversion of television channels to high-definition is staggering, both globally and here across the Middle East. First, the consumer electronics industry drove adoption of HD-ready television sets, and now we are seeing the adoption of the technology by broadcasters to ensure that viewers at home receive the true HD experience — the best possible quality of picture and clarity of sound.
To facilitate the development of high-definition TV in the Middle East, the YahLive platform provides the meeting ground for HD broadcasters and viewers as the home of HD across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Uniquely, all channels broadcast on the YahLive platform are exclusively in high-definition, offering viewers the latest quality HD channels from a single dish pointing at the Yahsat Satellite at 52.5 degrees east.
The rapid adoption of HD as the television standard by broadcasters — and demanded by viewers — can be shown by the speed with which broadcasters and viewers adopted the MPEG-2 digital standard. It was first available across the Middle East in 1995 and now more than 40 million TV households across the MENA region are viewing digital transmissions.
How do you evaluate the investments in the media technology field in the Gulf region?
It’s surprising that the move to HD did not come sooner and faster. That’s why at YahLive, we have created the regional HD ‘hotspot’ to speed up the delivery of high-definition channels to television households across the region.
Prior to this, there was no single destination for high-definition, which made it difficult for viewers to understand where to get their HD content. Equally, broadcasters did not see the value in investing in upgrading the facilities to broadcast in HD, because they didn’t see the demand.
Can you describe your deal with the Saudi channels to transfer them to HD broadcasting technology? What is the value of this deal?
We are delighted to have the opportunity to broadcast the six Saudi TV channels — Saudi 1, Qur’an Kareem, Al-Sunnah, Al-Ekhbariya, Al-Thaqafiya, and Sport 1 in HD.
The investment that Saudi TV is making in its broadcast technology will ensure that it remains at the forefront of the country’s move toward HD and deliver the very best quality signal to viewers. HD offers a true ‘being there’ experience.
How many Arab channels have been transferred to HD broadcasting technology?
Dubai Media, Inc., Abu Dhabi Media, Saudi TV, and MBC are among the Arab channels that have been transferred to HD broadcasting technology. In addition to broadcasting these Arabic channels, we are supporting the conversion of their broadcast platforms to HD, enabling them to make a much quicker conversion than they would make otherwise. YahLive will have 50 channels broadcast at 52.5E by the end of 2012 and many more early in 2013.
Do you think the HD technology will dominate TV broadcasting?
In some areas of the world, like Europe, the US and Japan, SD broadcasting is no longer being accepted by consumers, so yes, HD technology will dominate television broadcasting globally.
As consumers start watching television in HD, they will see the limitations of SD and no longer be able to accept anything less than the best content in the purest HD. While initial HD adoption has been slow in the Middle East compared with that of the US and Europe, we are seeing real momentum from broadcasters in making the upgrade to their transmissions in partnership with YahLive.
How do you see your operations in the Middle East and North Africa to support HD broadcasting technology?
As a joint venture company with SES, a global satellite operator with over 50 satellites, and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (YahSat), we have local knowledge and operations plus a global footprint, which allows us to anticipate industry trends and deliver real solutions.
We are constantly adding valuable broadcasters to our satellite through uplinks in Jordan, London and Cairo. We are also partnering with major telecom networks like Etisalat for content delivery. Broadcasting at 52.5 degrees East, our beams cover the Gulf and North Africa giving us the flexibility
to uplink from any beam and
regionalize their broadcasters offerings to any coverage area.