CABSAT 2010

Middle East broadcast show exceeds expectations.
Analysis, Broadcast Business

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Any fears that the recession would dampen spirits at CABSAT were quickly replaced by optimism as each day of the show got busier. New technologies, exciting deals and regional partnerships reiterated that business was back on track. Digital Studio brings you all the news from the floor.

CABSAT saw several first time exhibitors such as Hewlett Packard and broadcast specialist BCE at the show this year. Having tested the waters over the last year, BCE finally decided to explore the Middle East further by exhibiting at the show. Likewise, HP also made its debut this year reiterating its need to make a more aggressive move into the post production and broadcast market.

Of the many exciting deals that were signed at the show, the one that was most worthy of mention was the agreement between Harris Middle East and Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC).

Harris has had several wins in the Middle East especially under the leadership of managing director Said Bacho. The current win was a huge coup for Harris, which has been contracted to provide an end-to-end tapeless solution to the state-backed broadcaster.

Harris will adopt its ONE workflow solution at the new centre, which will include the manufacturer’s Invenio digital asset management products as well as its ADC playout automation and NEXIO server systems. Invenio will form the core of the centre’s digital archive asset management system. ADC automation will use Invenio to manage ingest, preparation and playout of content. Both the Invenio and ADC solutions will be integrated with the Harris Broadcast Master scheduling and sales system that is already in use at ADMC. A NEXIO server domain including the NEXIO AMP and Volt servers will be installed at each of ADMC’s HD studios that comprise the playout centre.

The NEXIO server system features global proxy file support for the creation of low-resolution files, a collaborative development between the NEXIO and Invenio product lines.

The project is scheduled for completion on June 1 in time for the English Premier League.

Harris also announced recent successes in Kuwait and Egypt at CABSAT. The manufacturer recently provided its Broadcast Master sales and scheduling solution to Alrai TV, Kuwait’s first private satellite TV channel. The Broadcast Master system will support revenue growth at Alrai TV, with a particular emphasis on the billing of chargeable, secondary events such as a sponsored graphics crawl across the bottom of the screen.

Likewise, Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) also recently ordered Harris Maxiva ULX liquid-cooled UHF TV transmitters and Platinum VLX liquid-cooled VHF TV transmitters to cover the greater Cairo and Matruh zones in Egypt.

But Harris was not the only company cheering at CABSAT.

Dubai-based distributor Advanced Media enjoyed a bumper first day at CABSAT, selling six units of the Microdolly Hollywood to clients in the region. Many more were sold in the course of the show.

CEO of Advanced Media Kaveh Farnam stated that he had received a lot of interest in both the MicroDolly and the GFM and there were good orders for both.

Several companies also showcased new technologies at their booths. Sony Professional Solutions Middle East, which had doubled its space at CABSAT this year, expressed surprise at receiving a lot of attention in its 3D displays.

Awad Mousa, head of Product Marketing at Sony commented that the company wasn’t expecting so much interest in 3D within the region just yet.

“Our 3D solutions were a big attraction this year. We were quite surprised by the interest in 3D so we hope to focus more on it in the future. We also received a lot of quality visitors at this year’s show,” he stated.

MediaSys also had a much bigger stand this year. Key regional trainers were at the booth to offer visitors a demo on Autodesk solutions and the Aja cards.

Spanish company Tedial, which exhibited for the second time at CABSAT, called the Middle East “a strategically important region for Tedial, because of the high level of activity in digitisation and automation”.

“By being at CABSAT, we could talk to broadcasters in the region, and help them understand the benefits of a broad approach to asset and process management,” commented José Mesas, managing director of Tedial.

Mesas confided that Tedial was involved in “four international tenders in the Middle East”.

If the Spanish manufacturer bags any of the deals, the projects will include the whole Tedial suite of products, led by the Ficus asset management and the BPM broadcast business manager.

Avid, which recently expanded its Interplay product family with the acquisition of Blue Order, also had some interesting technological advancements to share with visitors.

The deal with Blue Order, for instance, transforms the current production asset management (PAM) solution into a full media asset management (MAM) solution. Interplay now enables them to unlock new streams of revenue and reduce operating costs through some of the most comprehensive and open business process management, media cataloging and collaboration capabilities on the market. The Interplay product family is the foundation of the Avid Integrated Media Enterprise framework.

Ulf Genzel from Blue Order was at the Avid stand to demonstrate some of the new features that end users could now use.

Although the media is replete with stories about people being made redundant, we spotted several new faces at different stands. Clearly, this was a sign of growth for many companies.

Qvest Media, which started a couple of years ago in Dubai with one man, today has about seven staff members. Two new staff joined the company’s sales and support team recently.

Likewise, Peter Kyriakos has joined the marketing department of United Broadcast & Media Solutions while Sony Professional Solutions Middle East has expanded its systems integration unit even further with the appointment of David Rensburg.

A number of new partnerships were also announced at CABSAT.

System integrator MHz, for instance, which has worked on installations with numerous broadcasters including Al Jazeera, ART, Kuwait TV, Oman TV and Qatar TV in the Middle East, announced partnerships with ETACO in Egypt, Ghali Electronics in Syria and Maritronics in Bahrain.

“We continue to seek out partners that can support our expansion strategy and allow us to interact more closely with end-users,” commented Robert Stopford, sales director, MHz.

“Our partnerships with the respective teams at ETACO, Ghali Electronics and Maritronics provides us with a complementary offering that includes local business knowledge and Arabic-speaking staff with both broadcast and IT skills,” he added.

Likewise, Paddy Roache, general manager of Hitachi Kokusai Europe Ltd, commented that the manufacturer had teamed up with Almoayyed International Group in Bahrain and Mustafa Sultan Enterprises in Oman to further expand in the Middle East. Presently, Hitachi deals with First Gulf Company in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which underwent a significant revolution on its broadcast front, also had several delegates visiting the show.

It was interesting to note that Saudi Arabia had recently opened up its broadcast landscape and had issued several licenses for companies to operate private FM radio channels.

Ibrahim Al Rowaitie, general manager of projects at Saudi Arabia, stated at the time of the show that three licences were already provided to private companies including Alif Alif, Creative Edge and Rotana. At the time, two more licences were left to be awarded.

He also added that Saudi TV had forged ahead with its DVB-T project. “60 of our sites are already connected. The plan is to have DVB-T deployed across the Kingdom in the next three to give years, following which we will discontinue analogue TV,” he added.

We were also not surprised to see a hive of activity around the delegation from the Oman Ministry of Information. Shortlisted systems integrators have been on tenterhooks for the last few months awaiting news about whom the Ministry would award the contract for its HD facility.

Although there are rumours about who will be the most likely candidate, we are not willing to hazard a guess at this stage. However, we will be the first to let you know when the contract has been awarded. Stay tuned!

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