As if we didn’t need reminding, events season for the production and broadcast industries in the Middle East region is in full swing.
Last month, on February 4, we gathered some of the brightest minds in the production and broadcast industries for the annual Broadcast Forum. Unlike many other conferences, which tread over the same old problems but offer little in the way of answers, the Broadcast Forum aimed to address some of the main challenges head on but also look for concrete solutions to them.
The three panels raised some fascinating points about the nature of TV and film production in the region, distribution channels and advertising revenues. You can read highlights of two of the panel discussions on pages 48 and 108 to gain more insights.
Then of course, we had CABSAT, and the annual Digital Studio Awards. CABSAT was a stellar show with some high calibre international speakers, who gave delegates a solid overview of where the industry is heading. Walking around the halls of CABSAT always reminds me of just how much production is going on in the Gulf, and particularly the UAE, now. The industry is clearly in strong health and moving forward from a strong foundation.
The infrastructure present here in the UAE is just one example. From Stargate Middle East in Studio City to twofour54’s facilities in Abu Dhabi, there is a growing choice of studios in the country. As you will see from this month’s cover story, Sharjah, far from being left behind, is leading the charge in terms of studio facilities for truly local content (read the full feature, Blazing a Trail, here).
Indeed, Sharjah Media Corporation has been investing on two fronts: broadcast platforms and local production capacity. The organisation has already covered all emirates apart from Abu Dhabi with DVB-T2 terrestrial transmission and will be adding Abu Dhabi to the list by around the end of the year.
In terms of covering local sports, events and culture, SMC is leading from the front. Last year it launched a TV channel in Kalba to serve the eastern areas of Sharjah and the company is now working on a similar project in Dhaid. Digital Studio looks forward to following this project as it progresses.
Most players in the industry recognise the need for more local production and are making moves in that direction. While the bigger, established players may already have a strong track-record on this front, smaller players are entering the fray, spurred on at least in part by new OTT distribution platforms.
As CABSAT also helped to demonstrate, the falling cost of professional cameras is also opening up content production to a broader range of people, and technical innovations are giving more established filmmakers new ways of approaching projects, whether that’s TVCs, documentaries or feature films.
It is amid this innovation that it is most apt to mention the Digital Studio Awards. On March the 11th, we recognised and celebrated excellence in the region’s production and broadcast industries with award categories covering all aspects of the sector, from content capture to distribution.
The event attracted 300-plus of the region’s top talent for a night that was not to be missed. I would also like to thank the event's sponsors and partners: du, CMS, Integracast, Imagine Communications, First Gulf Company, Grass Valley, LAWO, Live Broadcast Facilities, Avid, CABSAT and IABM.
Roger Field is Editor of Digital Studio at ITP Business Publishing.