Over 70 industry professionals attend 10th Arab HDTV and Beyond Group meeting

Arab HDTV and Beyond Group meeting sees industry discuss implications of latest broadcast technologies and state of HDTV transition in Arab world
Over 70 industry professionals attend 10th Arab HDTV and Beyond Group meeting
Over 70 industry professionals attend 10th Arab HDTV and Beyond Group meeting


The 10th Annual Meeting of the ‘Arab HDTV and Beyond Group’ was held on the 11th of March 2019, at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Dubai under the patronage of Eng. Abdelrahim Suleiman, Director General of the ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union). The meeting was headed by Hasan R. Sayed Hasan, Chairman of the ‘Arab HDTV and Beyond Group’ and Managing Director of Master Media. Attendees were around 70 professionals representing regional national and private broadcasters, satellite providers, regional and international systems integrators, manufacturers, and service providers.

The meeting commenced by a welcome note by Mr. Abdelrahim Suleiman, Director General of ASBU, who welcomed the Arab HDTV & Beyond Group members and wished success to their annual meeting. In his opening remarks, Eng. Abdul Rahim Suleiman, briefed the attendees about the ASBU activities.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of ASBU and Mr. Suleiman invited the attendees to participate in the upcoming 20th edition of the “ARAB RADIO AND TV FESTIVAL” which will be held in City of Culture – Tunisia between the 27th and 30th of June 2019. The festival is one of the biggest professional events in the Arab broadcast industry. The event includes many manifestations such as the ASBU TV and Radio Contests, the ASBU Broadcast Convention, the ASBU Awards Ceremony, in addition to various Conferences and seminars.

In his opening address, Hasan welcomed the group members and updated them with the status and growth statistics of HDTV and Ultra HDTV in the Arab World showing the available regional Satellites and the distribution of satellite operators and virtual operators. To give a clear synopsis, Hasan also presented figures about the HD Satellite Channels growth in the Arab World categorizing channels in terms Orbital Position, FTA vs. Encrypted, by Genre, by Origin, and by Language.

Underlining the rapid growth HDTV has seen since its beginnings in the region around 2009, Hasan said: “We now have 380 unique HD channels across the region as of Dec 31, 2018.” During his presentation, Hasan highlighted the genre and country-specific origin of the HD channels. Sports and General Entertainment channels are no more dominating the HD channels genres, HD channels are almost evenly distributed across all genres. 194 HD channels were in Arabic, with 127 in English, and 59 channels in other languages. While total of 98 HD channels originated from the UAE, many new Arabic  countries having launched HD channels for the first time in 2018.

Dr. Fares Lubbadeh Owner & Director General of SpaceTech TV Engineering/ Vice Chair, Arab HDTV & Beyond Group outlined the history and definitions of Artificial Intelligence and its potential uses in the media industry. He also described the benefits and challenges in AI utilisation.

Carlos Watanabe Senior Director, Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories described how HDR (High Dynamic Range) delivers more realistic images than SDR and highlighted the challenges facing HDR implementations and highlighted Dolby’s vision and experience in the field. Carlos introduced how HDR can be implemented within the HD environment (instead of for Ultra HD) and how this can be achieved.

Enabling broadcasters to monetize content with UHD OTT delivery was the topic of presentation for Olivier Karra Director of Cloud and SaaS, Business Development, Harmonic. Karra approached the topic with a case study for a public broadcaster in Japan aiming to enable first screen access to UHD 4K content and non-linear access to content. Olivier also discussed the benefits of SaaS and concluded that broadcasters can leverage OTT to create revenue opportunities.

Thomas Gunkel Market Director Broadcast, Skyline Communications highlighted the fact that essential requirements the broadcast industry has towards an IP network are significantly different from those of other industries and from what the IT industry is typically used to. Thomas mentioned that new network technologies and topologies are challenging and do not always behave as they should.

Jean-Christophe, CEO of NOA, described the Archive Transfer Technology processes and highlighted the criticality of the need to start digitising audio-visual assets and their associated metadata On the topic of AI in Archives, Jean-Christophe stressed that although AI is nice, there are many steps that need to be done before AI tools could be used. Primary sources need adequate intellectual annotation, so there is no way to eliminate the archivist. AI gets in only if the archives are already digital and give value only if the ‘context’ is correct. Jean-Christophe compared the OPEX versus CAPEX models of large-scale digitisation projects and the advantages and disadvantages of each of the models.

Kris Langbridge Head of Distribution, Red Bee Media, explained to the audience how Red Bee Media managed connectivity, remote production and teleport services for the EU Beach Volleyball event that was connected through the Red Bee Media Global WAN and managed from the central MCR, with Outside Broadcast teams managing operations onsite.

Above: Kris Langbridge Head of Distribution, Red Bee Media

Virtualising Live Production Andy Davies Director Media & Entertainment EMEA, Diversified, briefed the audience on the current standards that can support real-time Virtualised Live Production. Andy concluded with a look forward to the future and whether a truly virtualised, even private or public cloud-based live production environment is practical.

The final presentation was on the latest developments of MENOS HDTV services delivered by Mohamed Abdalla Head of Satellite Section, ASBU where he talked about the technical aspects and latest developments of ASBU’s MENOS platform and displayed statistical data on ASBU DTV Channels.

As by the Group Bylaws, elections of group bureau were held after a term of 3 years. Hasan R. Sayed Hasan was re-elected as Chairman of the Group for another 3-year term together with Vice Chairs Dr. Fares Lubbadeh and Hassan Ghoul. The Group members have also elected Eng. Abdulla Ahmed Al-Balooshi, Assistant Undersecretary of Technical Affairs at Bahrain's Ministry of Information Affairs, as a Vice Chair.

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