The Saudi Ministry of Culture and information (MOCI) has awarded two major contracts to Thomson. One is for continuing the rollout of digital television transmitters across the nation; the second is for the creation of a digital archive of film, radio and television for the state broadcaster.
Saudi Arabia was the first Arab country to broadcast digital terrestrial television, with a demonstration service in Riyadh in 2003. For the first phase - started in 2006 - of the national roll-out of digital broadcasting, Thomson with its local partner Stesa installed 22 high power DVB-T transmitters to provide coverage in the major cities of the Kingdom.
The contract for phase two, which has now been awarded to Thomson and Stesa adds a further 34 transmitters (Elite 1000) to reach out to the rest of the nation. Each transmitter site includes a complete digital headend based on Thomson ViBE encoders and NetProcessor multiplex processing, allowing local access to the interactive facilities available through digital terrestrial television. When complete, this will bring the five digital terrestrial channels to more than 90% of the Kingdom's population.
Together, the two companies will manage the entire installation at each site, including power connections, construction, cooling and antennas, as well as the installation of the headends and transmitters. The complete transmission network will be monitored and controlled from a central station in Riyadh, using the Thomson XMS control solution.
For the archive project, Thomson and Stesa will be working with INA, the French national library of radio and television archives, to develop a comprehensive solution to preserve the archives of Saudi Radio and Television. This includes more than 750,000 reels of 16mm and 35mm film as well as vast numbers of audio and video tape recordings.
The project includes the construction of a specialised building to house the archive as well as the restoration and cataloguing of the material. In the frame of this project, Thomson will deploy its new Media Asset Management solution, called ContentShare2, to automatise, through the Thomson Grass Valley K2 media servers, the ingest workflow. It will also integrate an asset management to hold the new catalogue and provide links to the permanent storage and archive libraries. INA will support the 140 Saudi archivists who will be working on the project.
"These two major orders from MOCI clearly demonstrate the breadth of this offering, and Thomson's ability to respond to complex demands quickly," commented Patrick Montliaud, vice president of Thomson Integration and Network Solutions, within the Systems division. "Together with our local partner company, Stesa - and with specialist alliances such as the help provided to us by INA on the archive structure - Thomson has the resources and expertise to deliver solutions that meet the exacting requirements of the Ministry of Culture and Information."