Friday, September 29, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | VOA | "TV Ashna" On-Air in Afghanistan

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has a second news item in as many days from Voice of America.

From increased shortwave broadcasts to Thailand after the Military Coup, it is now the turn of Afghanistan. There, from September 30, VOA Television will pump out a daily 60 minute program slot of "News" programming under the name of "TV Ashna" (means 'Friend').

The TV hour will be split equally between the two main national Afghani languages, Dari and Pashto. Each will have its own news bulletin and public affairs programming. The main television network to carry the VOA programming is Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) from its broadcast center in Kabul. "TV Ashna" is in the 1600hrs program slot local time in Afghanistan.

VOA's Shaista Mangal hosts the Pashto program and Lina Rozbih, the Dari program.

VOA sees this opportunity as providing a new source of regional and world news to Afghanistan's emerging television market. Some may well call it propaganda - news with an American slant, produced in Washington.

Obviously, the Americans want to put on - air, Afghani and American policy makers and political, economic and security analysts on issues of importance to the people of Afghanistan.

VOA says its "Radio Ashna" programming currently reaches millions of Afghanis daily with a 12-hour program in Dari and Pashto via FM, AM and shortwave radio that has proved very popular.

Now its time for the TV Ashna "with objective and comprehensive news and information that they have come to expect from the Voice of America".

Digital Broadcasters | VOA | Thailand SW Transmissions Expanded on Coup News

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News noticed that Voice of America (VOA) was very quick to add additional live and direct short wave broadcasts to its target radio audience in Thailand, in Thai and English, as part of VOA's coverage of the coup that removed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 19.

VOA immediately went from 15 minute short wave transmissions to a full sixty minutes as follows:

2300-2400 UTC Coup coverage in Thai 7215, 9685 khz 1130-1200 UTC Worldwide English Broadcast 1575 khz 1530-1600 UTC Special English Broadcast 1575, 6160, 9590, 9760, 12040, 15550 khz

I want to say: "Thank goodness for foreign broadcasts by satellite into Thailand "before" Thaksin was forced out of power".

Even so, promptly, as if on cue on news of the Coup, VOA Director David S. Jackson had to say: "At a time when the people of Thailand were most in need of reliable information, VOA's Thai Service went from broadcasting a 15-minute daily news feed to a daily 60-minute direct broadcast, transmitted via the Internet and on special shortwave frequencies."

Not surprisingly, the United States criticised the Thai Military takeover as a blow to democracy in Thailand.

To any one who knows the Thai situation, democracy was under threat from Thaksin anyway who used his position and wealth to buy out anything or anyone in his way.

It seems the Americans wanted democracy with a corrupt Thaksin government that went farther than any previously to the point of almost offending the Monarchy? That does not make sense to me.

Voice of America should have expanded its broadcast hours before the Military take over. Let me repeat, pro-Thaksin interests controlled the main national radio and TV networks, so the news was skewed anyway in Thaksin's favour.

Talk about double standards. According to the American government psyche, you can be as corrupt as you like as long as you are democratic!

I happened to be in Bangkok during the Coup. What an extraordinary non-event it was. The military hardware was paraded as if it was a carnival emblazoned with ribbons in the royal colour of yellow. That is the happy result. It could have been bloody if factions loyal to Thaksin had not been neutralised. Access roads with their military camps were quickly blocked by divisions loyal to the Coup leaders.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News noted that BBC, CNN, ABC Australia and NHK were off air for really a few hours only on UBC Cable TV. But it is true to state that the Coup leaders censor live reports that elaborate too much on Thaksin and show a caption instead saying the transmission will return shortly.

Thailand will return to democracy very soon with a new constitution. That I am sure.

There are few visible signs of the coup on the streets. The people seem relieved.

It is a case of "Mai pen rai". If you know a Thai ask them what that means.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | Australia | DRM Frequencies Embargoed

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has informed Digital Broadcasters Vendor News that it has embargoed a range of spectrum frequencies that could be appropriate for use by "Digital Radio Mondiale" (DRM), the digital radio transmission standard.

The frequency bands in question are: 5950–6200, 7100–7300, 9500–9900, 11650–12050, 13600–13800, 15100–15600, 17550–17900, 21450–21850 and 25670–26100 kHz.

It is intended that no new frequency assignments in these bands will be authorised except in certain circumstances.

The ACMA says these bands are not normally part of the current broadcasting spectrum.

Digital Radio Mondiale is currently part of the terrestrial digital radio trials taking place in Sydney.

Giles Tanner, General Manager of ACMA’s Inputs to Industry Division made the point that ACMA intends to plan for the introduction of Digital Radio Mondiale but is also aware that international arrangements are still evolving and that Australia is influenced by these arrangements.

ACMA wants to see a structured introduction of Digital Radio Mondiale where the benefits are to the listening public through a fair sharing of the frequencies rather than second guess where internationally agreed frequency allocation for Australia is going and changes have to take place later if DRM introduced too soon.

In any event, the ACMA is calling for applications from any organisation that wishes to trial the frequencies listed above to check their performance in the Australian environment.

Digital Broadcasters | Singapore MediaCorp | To Subtitle TV News for the Hearing Impaired

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has heard from Singapore's MediaCorp that across its networks - Channels 5, 8 and Suria - from the end of this year there will be subtitling on news bulletins, in English, Chinese and Malay.

Help with this project is coming from the Media Development Authority as a service to those with impaired hearing.

MDA and MediaCorp meanwhile are still considering real-time subtitles in Tamil for introduction on "Vasantham Central" TV news.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News suggests that if you are a vendor of Tamil language subtitling software, there may be able to help in this project which we believe needs integration into MediaCorp's newsroom automation system.

Now, I wonder why it has taken so long for subtitling of the Singapore TV news bulletins. Other terrestrial TV broadcasters in the region have been doing so for a while.

The Singapore TV broadcasts are to be launched in two phases.

Channel 5 English news at 2130hrs starts on October 2 then Channel 8 Malay News at 2000hrs and Chinese News at 2200hrs, and Malay News on Suria Channel at 2000hrs will be from December.

MediaCorp says that more than 650,000 viewers tune into these main news bulletins daily.

Channel 5's 2130 English TV news bulletin is also simulcast on "TVMobile" which has the potential reach of more than one million commuters daily on public transport.

The decision to provide subtitling for news bulletins was made earlier this year following requests from the general public and the hearing impaired.

One of those requesting the subtitled TV news broadcasts, Jenny Ho, executive director, Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) said that subtitling improves the quality of life; facilitates independent living and helps to promote social integration for the hard of hearing.

The SADeaf estimates that there may be some 98,000 elderly people who suffer from varying degrees of hearing loss. In addition, based on the statistics that six out of every 1,000 births in Singapore show a degree of hearing loss means that 20,000 Singaporeans may have hearing loss (based on Singapore’s population in 2005).

Singapore's Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, lauds this initiative.

The MDA and MediaCorp TV news subtitling project is set to run for three years in the first instance.

Digital Vendors | SkyCross Expands T-DMB, DVB-H, S-DMB Products

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has learned that Florida - based, SkyCross, is expanding its mobile video antenna product family for digital terrestrial networks including T-DMB and Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H) and provides continuing support of the expanding rollout of Satellite - Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (S-DMB)particularly in South Korea.

SkyCross looks to participate in the introduction of T-DMB and DVB-H in the Peoples Republic of China.

This product expansion comes on the heels of a recent mobile video collaboration with 'Intel' to further develop mobile video applications together with selected voice and data initiatives.

So what is in the extended product line?

SkyCross says it includes external, retractable, detachable, as well as internal, terrestrial antenna designs. In addition to these stand- alone mobile video antennas, SkyCross also offers multi-mode internal antennas that couple CDMA and/or GSM with mobile video capabilities.

The mobile video terrestrial frequency bands operate as low as 180 MHz on some networks. This is considerably lower than voice standards, which start at the 850 MHz band. The low frequency specifications for terrestrial mobile video physically demand a larger antenna.

SkyCross says it is able to engineer these antennas smaller than the competition with equivalent performance and has developed fully embedded solutions even at the lowest frequency bands.

The SkyCross product family extension supports the mobile video standards in a variety of applications including handsets, PC cards, notebook computers, and UMCPs (Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers).

SkyCross is flexible in the engineering of its antennas, accommodating the allotted space and other components in these various devices. The results are high quality antennas that meet the demands of manufacturers and enable excellent reception of the digital broadcast video signals. These are two important factors in the continued growth and market acceptance of this emerging market.

Dr. Chris Morton, CEO of SkyCross said his company continues to exhibit technology leadership in the mobile video arena with all relevant next - generation technology, network architectures and devices with antennas that offer superior performance in the smallest possible size.

Digital vendor, SkyCross is a leading developer and manufacturer of next-generation RF and antenna technology for mobile and fixed wireless telecommunications and mobile computing markets - all in the digital environment - [Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia].

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Digital Broadcast | On Lebanon | TV3 New Zealand, Coverage Balanced and Fair

At Digital Broadcast Vendor News, we keenly follow digital television broadcasters news coverage in times of crisis. We came across this fascinating insight as to how television news in New Zealand reported from the Lebanon recently.

The following interview was conducted by "Tumeke!", an amazing New Zealand blog.

The revealing interview is with television journalist, Mike McRoberts of the commercial television network, TV3 New Zealand based in Auckland. The TV network is owned by Canada's Canwest Group of Winnipeg.

To guide you through this interview, [Digital Broadcast Vendor News] has added brief television terms, as necessary as an explanation to those not familiar with New Zealand TV. They are in stylised brackets (in parenthesis).


While TVNZ’s coverage [digital national TV broadcaster, Television New Zealand] of the Lebanon war left much to be desired – much praise was heaped on TV3’s Mike McRoberts coverage. Tumeke interviewed Mike on the difficulties as a Journalist to cover a story like this, professionally and personally.

The Q & A:

TUMEKE: Mike, your coverage of the recent Lebanon war for TV3 News impressed many - how difficult was the situation in Lebanon while you were there compared with other stories you have covered as a journalist?

MIKE: Hi Bomber [Tumeke's nickname], thank you for those comments. The difficulties in covering the war in Lebanon were many and varied. Firstly just getting there was a bit of a mission. Beirut's airport was one of the first "infrastructure" targets to be attacked which meant we had to travel through Syria to get into Lebanon, and Syria is not the friendliest place in the world when it comes to foreign journalists.

Beirut was still coming under daily air strikes, although the majority of those were in the Hezbollah controlled southern suburbs, so moving around the city wasn't too bad. Travelling to Southern Lebanon was a different story. What should have been an hour's drive was closer to four hours as all of the main roads had suffered heavy bombing. Also because of the threat of air strikes our time filming and reporting on the ground there was limited, before we'd have to turn around and make the journey back to Beirut. At that stage there were no live [radio and TV] broadcasting points in Southern Lebanon.

Still we felt it important to get down and see what was happening for ourselves. I guess the greatest difficulty in reporting conflict is accuracy. When you can report what you have seen or interview actual witnesses it makes all the difference. The other major difficulty is balance; while all of my reporting was based in Lebanon, what TV3 did differently this time was have me present all our Middle East coverage as a package from Beirut, including the stories filed from Israel.

TUMEKE: Let's talk about the difficulties of balance [equal broadcasting emphasis to both sides]. I noted some observers saying that Israel was extremely good at spinning their side of the story where as Hezbollah were ‘clumsy’ with western media. As a journalist, how do you tell the story and how do you manage to cover a story with such entrenched positions?

MIKE: Israel is very proactive with the media, I covered the Israeli withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza this time last year and I'm still being spammed on a daily basis by various Jewish lobby groups. As you correctly point out Hezbollah don't have that same relationship with western media. That meant if you wanted their side of the story, or even to put the most basic questions to them you had to go looking for them, and that of course raised a number so safety and security issues. One of the things I was most happy about our coverage was that we did get to speak with representatives of Hezbollah, twice through our own endeavours by working contacts and persevering - and another time when we were detained by local Hezbollah in the Bekka Valley.

Actually it was when we were held by them for an hour and a half that I learnt the most about Hezbollah. While I never felt our lives were in danger it wasn't great not having any control over the situation. We were taken in a vehicle to a mechanic's garage where our car and belongings were searched thoroughly. They also went through our passports and were in phone communication with someone else. I was concerned because all our cash - about 5 thousand dollars - was inside my bag. When they handed it back the leader was insistent that I check my bag and sure enough all the cash was still there. He looked at me and said - we are not criminals.

The thing that stands out for me about Hezbollah was how quickly the rest of the country supported them after the civilian killings in Qana. That to me was a turning point in the war and probably the end of any hopes Israel had of squashing Hezbollah.

TUMEKE: I watched you meet a Lebanese civilian who hugged you and thanked you for providing the western media coverage that he hoped would end the bombing. His house was battered and the remaining houses on what was left of his street were also damaged. You could see the legitimate fear in his face and the real anxiety he was going through- how are you able to cover a story like this which was very one sided in terms of loss of life and destruction of property and not get angry

MIKE: Good question, of course you get angry - you are a human being first and a journalist second. But as a journalist you have to check yourself and scrutinize your work, otherwise it's too easy to become a target and have your work discredited by those who oppose what you're saying. I think it raises another issue that I've always considered when it comes to reporting events like these.

People always talk about objectivity in reporting but how can you be objective when you see destruction and civilian loss of life on the scale we've just witnessed. I think it's more important to strive to be fair in your reporting. I go back to Qana ...ok we've got the pictures of dead women and children being pulled out of the bombed basement of a three story residential home.

The Israeli Defence Force claimed that the home had been a base for Hezbollah rockets and fighters - a claim I included in our [TV3 news report] story ...but I also interviewed on the scene an investigator for Human Rights Watch who said categorically that there was no evidence of any military (Hezbollah) presence in what was left of the home. It's worth pointing out that three days later after being challenged by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz the IDF admitted there wasn't any evidence to back their claim.

TUMEKE: As a journalist - where do you draw the line in terms of personal safety to get the story? Did you ever fear for your life? How does that stress effect your work and the working relationships of your news team?

MIKE: You can't do the job without putting yourself at risk. But in saying that you always try and minimise that risk. Information is key, this usually means talking to lots of people like other journalists or military and UN contacts. You gather as much intelligence about a situation as you can and use that information to determine whether you go to a certain area or take a particular road. There is something to be said for safety in numbers. When we set up our first meeting with Hezbollah at their stronghold in Southern Beirut, we did so with the BBC and CBC from Canada.

Of course we also travel with flak jackets and helmets, although I wonder sometimes about how effective they really are. They did prove handy in Southern Lebanon as a kind of uniform. Local residents and Hezbollah recognised the navy blue jackets as being media.

The worst fear I've ever felt was covering the Iraq elections last year. I guess because there are so many things that can go wrong, from kidnappings to road side bombs and it all seems so random. On that occasion every time we travelled the roads we did so "low key" or undercover with armed Iraqi guards. At the time I remember thinking that the Iraq elections were the most covered and yet not covered elections the world had ever seen. There were areas as a journalist you would just not go to.

Danger does make for a stressful working environment. You need to completely trust the people you are working with, often you are watching out for each other. You also need to be totally confident in their abilities - there's no going back for a "take 2".

I have a great [television] cameraman by the name of "Dutchie" who has been with me through the Afghanistan conflict, Iraq, Gaza, the Solomon Islands and now Lebanon. You may remember some [television] footage which has featured prominently on TV3 over the years of me stuck in a riot in the Afghanistan/ Pakistan border town of Peshawar in 2001. As the Pakistani military start firing from behind me I crouch and turn and get the hell out of there. What people often overlook is that the shot (the camera shot) never moves ....that's Dutchie.

In Lebanon I also had an excellent [TV]producer. Jon Stephenson is a freelance journalist and probably this country's foremost foreign affairs reporter. Jon and I have worked together now in Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon. Having a second journalist on the ground with you, particularly as experienced as Jon, is a huge asset and really adds to the story telling and coverage.

All of us now have some experience of reporting in areas of conflict and that certainly helps, I think it's very much a case of "the more you do it the better you get".

TUMEKE: Hezbollah were demonized by some sectors of the media. You meet Hezbollah fighters and you must have heard the long standing complaints of the Lebanese people – how is it that we in the West have so little understanding for the motivations of Hezbollah? Few in the West would have even heard of the Shebaa Farms dispute or even be aware of the thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, many for little reason other than being Muslim males. How much of this ignorance should be shouldered by the mainstream media?

MIKE: Without a doubt some of that "ignorance" should be shouldered by mainstream media, but I think the viewing public also have a role here. Having an understanding or even an appreciation of what a conflict is all about can only come from sustained coverage of that situation. Why does it take a war for that to happen? But that situation is not the sole domain of foreign stories - look at what happened with the funeral of the Maori Queen recently. How many people knew what the Kingitanga movement was about until mainstream media covered her tangi?

I was talking to a group of student journalists recently, many of whom were interested in foreign affairs and foreign correspondent work. I had to tell them that if they were planning on working for mainstream media in New Zealand there was virtually no chance of them becoming foreign correspondents. It costs a lot of money to cover foreign affairs and editors and executive producers will tell you the expense outweighs the public interest.

I always tell any groups that I speak to now that if they like the stuff they see me or another reporter doing overseas then ring and tell TV3News. That sort of direct public feedback really helps.

One of the most satisfying things for me during the war in Lebanon is that our [TV3] coverage directly translated into stronger viewer numbers [TV audience]. People tuned in to see what was going on. That's the first time that I can remember that we've had a noticeable increase in ratings like that - and I'm happy to say it will also make it that much easier to get a "green light" next time something comes up.

The other avenue for information of course is independent documentaries which are becoming a real option for journalists who want to tell a story but who can't get mainstream media interested.

TUMEKE: What was your response to the UN announcement of Israel using cluster bombs purposely at the end of the conflict on civilian areas – do actions like that simply deepen the resentment of the Lebanese people, does it only serve to recruit for Hezbollah?

MIKE: Yes I think so. I was hoping to do a 60 Minutes story on the cluster bombs but we got side tracked and ended up covering Olaf Wiig's release from kidnappers in Gaza instead. A contact I have in the United Nations based in Southern Lebanon told me the use of cluster bombs so close to the end of the conflict and in residential areas was "criminal", and when I was in Israel a week ago the very questions you're asking were being put to the IDF.

The same UN contact told me 14 civilians had been killed by the cluster bombs and dozens more injured. They have located more than 300 cluster bomb sites and he said "we've only scratched the surface".

I guess to balance that you would say Hezbollah too is guilty of war crimes. During the war they packed many of their rockets with ball bearings with the intention of injuring or killing as many people as possible. The difference of course is that a month later when you stand on a ball bearing it doesn't blow your leg off.

TUMEKE: Final question Mike, President Bush links the war on Terrorism with the conflict in Lebanon – did the Hezbollah you encountered appear nationalist fighters or internationalist Jihadists? And what was your response to Seymore Hershe’s claim in the New Yorker that there was premeditation for a military over reaction by Israel planned months before?

MIKE: I think President George W Bush would link his country's domestic health care issues to The War on Terror if he thought he could get away with it. Does anyone take anything he says seriously anymore? He seems to have conveniently forgotten that Hezbollah or the resistance was created as a direct result of Israel invading Lebanon in 1982.

I know that in 2002 the Washington Post [newspaper] ran an article claiming that Hezbollah and al Qaeda were increasingly forging links and sharing in explosives training and weapons smuggling among other things. This had come from a former US soldier who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bomb the US embassies in Africa. But this link has always been denied by Hezbollah. That theory also overlooks the obvious - that Hezbollah are Shiite and al Qaeda Sunni.

I think both the US and Israel have strong motives for putting the two groups together, it also means of course that Syria and Iran get dragged into the same equation. Which is another point Semour Hershe was making in the same article in the New Yorker.

There was certainly plenty of talk about the war having been premiditated, or at least Israel's military response to the kidnapping of two of their soldiers. But there hasn't been any hard evidence yet.


Originally published in the New Zealand blog, "Tumeke!" whose author is currently in trouble with the New Zealand authorities for being too outspoken.

Note: TV3 as a national terrestrial television network covers both islands that make up New Zealand.

TV3's Mike McRoberts is a well respected New Zealand TV correspondent.

Digital Broadcast Vendor News decided to include this item to help readers in the Arab Diaspora have a better understanding of how television broadcasters in countries like New Zealand try to convey a balanced truth in TV news broadcasts, especially from the Middle East.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Digital Vendors | Pixelmetrix | At IPTV World Forum Asia, Shanghai

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has been informed that PIXELMETRIX, the preventive monitoring experts for the digital broadcast and broadband industry will show its latest IPTV, Network Management and Test & Monitoring quality assurance tools and network intelligence systems at the upcoming IPTV World Forum Asia 2006, Shanghai, September 27-29

Pixelmetrix new range of innovative solutions to look out for include the new DVStorIP-Gen (IPTV Test Stream Generator) for IPTV Stress Testing, DVStation-IP with the integration of H.264 and VISUALmpeg Analyzer.

As a point of interest, Danny Wilson, President and CEO of Pixelmetrix Corporation, is one of the panel speakers on Day 3, Session 3 on the subject of "Improving IPTV Quality of Experience through Testing".

Pixelmetrix at IPTV World Forum Asia is brought to you as an advisory service of [Digital Broadcasters Vendor News]

You TOO can have your company announcements covered here, without charge.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | India | Animax Switches to English

We at Digital Broadcasters Vendor News are perplexed. In India, Gizmo crazy youngsters in the 15-24 age group want to watch the TV programs in the gizmo animation genre in English, not Hindi. Sony Pictures International has responded by changing its Animax television channel from Hindi to English as a direct result of the youngsters' responses. Now, Animax tranmitting 24/7 is showing the orginal version of Cowboy Bebop, Journey to the West, Fire on the Mystic Island, God Save our King and Samaurai in English. Digital broadcaster, Animax still believes that the demand for this type of programming in Hindi will come in one or two year's time. So much for up front research that must have taken place before the TV channel's recent launch in Hindi.

Digital Vendor | NVision BIRTV 2006 Award

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News can tell you that at this year’s BIRTV (Beijing International Radio, Film and Television) exhibition in Beijing, NVISION won the “Outstanding Product Award” for its NV8288 Digital Video Router. The Award was in recognition of setting new industry standards in high density routing.

This is NVISION’s second award in as many years from BIRTV for the Company’s technical excellence.

The NV8288 digital router is ideal for use in television outside broadcast vehicles and vans, or other applications where space is limited. For example, Telegenic, the leading supplier of outside broadcast (OB) production units in the United Kingdom, uses the NV8288 in its new T14 high-definition (HD), mobile broadcast truck, which will be primarily used to cover sporting events.

The outside broadcast unit incorporates a very large, 6-meter-deep, expandable, video-tape area, which would normally require the capacity of two vans.

Nvision says that the NV8288 has saved Telegenic considerable space in its latest mobile broadcast vehicle and money on its original investment plan.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | Laos National Radio | Training From Sweden's SIDA Agency

State broadcaster, Lao National Radio in Vientiane is coordinating a project to improve the quality of programs on provincial radio stations around the country with the help of funding from Sweden, Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has learned.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA, is funding the radio station project, and is providing necessary program staff training and radio production equipment, including personal computers.

Radio specialists from Sweden and Denmark have been brought in to help.

The first phase of the project will last three years and cover six provincial radio stations, two each year.

The training program covers news reporting and editing for on air broadcast, interviewing, documentary making and magazine shows, and creative uses of music in programming output.

Lao National Radio, came up with the original concept and made the proposal for help to SIDA headquarters in Sweden through the Swedish Embassy. SIDA is recognised for its support for rural development in Laos.

LNR has taken on the role of project secretariat and is closely involved in running it.

Under a difficult to comprehend operational structure, provincial stations in Laos come directly under the Ministry of Information, rather than being part of LNR. They produce their own programs but must carry LNR news bulletins.

The Swedish Agency has a substantial presence in Laos. SIDA says that dialogue forms an important part of the cooperation program, as multi- level discussions with representatives of Laotian society allow the expression and explanation of critical views and requirements, all to further the cause of democratisation.

The lack of knowledge and skills is often cited as a critical obstacle to all development initiatives in Laos. Girls and ethnic minorities are particularly alienated from the education system and around half the adult population is illiterate. Consequently, SIDA is financing an initiative for better education in Laos that includes syllabus development and teacher training Infrastructure.

SIDA is now supporting the maintenance of the provincial road network with better planning, procuring and controlling road building, and at managing the maintenance and improvement of roads. Sweden has given 100 million Swedish Krona to be used for the repair of Highway 8, one of the most important trunk roads in the country.

SIDA is also involved with Laos health and education projects, along with helping the Laos authorities set up modern forms of governance for the economy.

Partly sourced from

Sweden's SIDA - Digital Broadcaster, Lao National Radio -

Digital broadcasters | Indonesia | TV Networks Encouraged to Streamline

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News notes that in Indonesia, Trans TV has taken a nearly 50 per cent share in rival station terrestrial television station, TV7 owned and operated by Kompas Gramedia.

The present Indonesian Government has been concerned for some time over the proliferation of private nation-wide networks.

Through the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, the country's industry watchdog, the government has been encouraging equity stake participation among the 11 rival national TV networks, fearful that the economy could not cope with such a proliferation of networks and their ability to remain viable and profitable.

Consolidation is well under way.

It has to be said that the previous administration of President Megawati Soekano Putri rapidly liberalised the broadcasting industry in the post Suharto reforms of 1998, failing to foresee the current over supply to the television broadcast sector.

Reports currently circulating in Jakarta say that Trans TV is looking also to purchase the digital terrestrial broadcaster, PT Indosiar network. This would take a different path where at the moment the networks are taking cross-ownership stakes in each other.

Partly sourced from the Straits Times, Singapore.

Digital Broadcasters | Radio Nepal | Receives Japanese Aid | For Transmitter Network

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has learned that Radio Nepal is to receive Overseas Development Aid from Japan to improve short wave and medium wave radio transmissions.

The 588.4 million Nepali Rupee (USD8.36 million) prject is to replace damaged and outdated equipment. In recent years, a paucity of spare parts and damage through the country's Maoist insurgency has left the state broadcaster's transmission infrastructure in a dire situation.

The re-equipment program, using Japanese broadcast vendors and suppliers will help Radio Nepal on its path to full digital broadcasting.

Radio Nepal started in 1951.

Radio Nepal says that radio broadcasting is the cheapest and quickest means of mass communications in the mountainous country.

Radio Nepal short wave radio transmissions are estimated to reach even the remotest villages while medium wave stations can be heard by 70 - 80% of the population.

Radio Nepal introduced FM broadcasting in 1995 in Kathmandu and since developed into a network, albeit comprised of low power FM stations at the municipality level.

The main news operation is digital and automation introduced. Archiving of traditional music is also been converted to digital.

Radio Nepal broadcasts in Nepali, English and Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Rai Bantawa, Limbu, Newari, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Urdu, Tharu East and Tharu West, Avadhi, Sherpa, Maithili, Sanskrit, Kham Magar and Doteli languages.

Digital Broadcasters | Malaysia | ASTRO Invests More in PT Direct Vision

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News glimpsed this snippet from the Bernama (Malaysia's Press Agency) on Kuala Lumpur-based, ASTRO's Indonesia PayTV operations.

Datelined, Jakarta, Bernama reported that DTH satellite broadcaster, Astro will invest another USD140 million (RM500m) to further develop its business in Indonesia to meet its projected two million subscribers in the next five years.

Halim Mahfudz, VP corporate affairs at PT Direct Vision, operator of the Astro subscription-based television station in Indonesia, said the company would set up the infrastructure, including a broadcasting studio in Karawaci, Banten, and improve its service to subscribers.

“With our investment constantly increasing, we are seriously operating in Indonesia and will not breach government regulations,” he was quoted by Antara news agency when asked about rumours that Astro had been importing second-hand television decoders for their subscribers.

Halim disclosed that Malaysia-based Astro would increase its investment in Indonesia in the next five years by US$1bil. (Does that mean "other" investments, if USD140 million is already allocated to PT Direct Vision?)

After six months of operations in Indonesia, digital broadcaster, Astro has secured 30,000 subscribers across the country. The target is 150,000 subscribers by year's end.

Digital Broadcasters | Pan Arab Radio Used to Reach Saudi Consumers

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has been informed that recent research shows that to reach radio listeners in affluent Saudi Arabia, radio advertisers have to resort to pan-Arab FM radio broadcasters whose advertising rates supercede those charged by local and regional FM stations. Really that boils down to one radio group.

Other highlighted facts from the Arab Advisors Group report:

*that the average local FM station’s ad rates had increased from USD 88.00 in 2005 to USD 101.00 in 2006.

* that peak listening times are 0700-0800hrs, 1300-1400hrs and 1800-1900hrs.

* Stations broadcasting music and entertainment content attracted higher ad rates,mainly due to their regional coverage and the group of listening audience targeted.

* that MBC Group’s FM stations as the only FM stations that offer advertising services targeting Saudi Arabia - which happens to be the Arab World’s largest consumer market.

* that government-owned, radio stations usually charged lower advertising rates that private stations which had to be profitable.

The report provides a detailed analysis of the FM Radio advertising rates in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia and the UAE. The countries were chosen to be representative geographically of the Arab World. In addition, the countries analyzed have diverse regulatory frameworks.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News understands that the Arab Advisors Group is a specialist team of analysts on the Arab World’s communications and media markets in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

Digital Broadcasters | BBC Arabic | Service Expands Offerings

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has learned that the BBC World Service has rolled out two radio developments in the Arab world this week.

Firstly, the BBC World Service, in a cooperative joint venture with the Ministry of Information Kuwait has launched BBC 100.1FM, a radio station in Kuwait City covering the whole country. The station broadcasts in English 24/7.

For the first time, listeners in Kuwait can now hear BBC World Service programs in English 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the launch of the new FM relay station, BBC 100.1FM.

The BBC executive in charge of the project, Jerry Timmins, Head of Africa & Middle East Region, BBC World Service, said this is the first fully dedicated BBC English relay on air in the whole Gulf region. The BBC says that listeners in Kuwait can now hear for the first time the full range of BBC programmes in English in FM broadcast quality.

The BBC Arabic Service is already heard in Kuwait on the dedicated relay radio station, 90.1 FM (in Arabic).

Khalid AI-Tarrah, Director of the Kuwait Information Centre in London, said the new agreement (for BBC 100.1FM in English) is a crowning moment in the well established co-operation between Kuwait’s Ministry of Information and the BBC.

Meanwhile, the BBC is expanding its presence in Sudan. There it has started to supply BBC Arabic news bulletins for broadcast on partner station, Mango 96 FM in Khartoum. The bulletins broadcast on the hour every hour during the 18 hours of transmissions of Mango 96FM broadcast day.

BBC's Arabic Service is already carried on a full time Khartoum FM relay station on 91FM, as is the case in Port Sudan and Al Ubayyid, also 90FM; in Juba on 90FM and 88.2FM, and in Wad Madani on 91.5FM.

Mekki Mahmoud Abdulla, Chairman of Mango Holding said the tie up with BBC Arabic Service news is in line with Mango Media’s rapid development plans to be a complete information provider to its customers in the Sudan.

Mango 96FM radio station is part of Mango Holding, a private group with media and technology businesses and interests in Dubai, North Africa, Levant and Sudan. Mango 96 FM was the first private commercial FM radio service in the Republic of the Sudan (Jumhuriyat as-Sudan).

[Note:In 2007 Mango Holding will launch radio broadcast services in three new areas in Sudan and two other African countries. Details at (website is in Arabic only).

A further note: BBC Arabic continues to be the leading international radio news service in Arabic, supported by being the most visited web site with extensive content and live Internet streaming of the BBC Arabic programs 24/7.

Digital broadcaster, the BBC will introduce a dedicated BBC Arabic satellite television service in October 2007.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Digital Vendor | ADB | Supplies STBs to Telecom Project 5

Digital equipment vendor, Advanced Digital Broadcast at IBC 2006 Amsterdam said it was supplying the ADB-3800T digital terrestrial set- top box (STB) to Telecom Project 5 (TP5) a Moscow-based, digital broadcast turnkey system solutions operator in readiness for the launch of encrypted digital terrestrial television services in Russia. No volume was mentioned, contract price, nor start date for the digital TV service.

In accordance with the Russian Government’s requirement for digitalisation of radio and television, TP5 was contracted to specify, develop and launch new digital networks for the distribution of cable, satellite and terrestrial television services throughout Russian Federation.

In turn, Geneva - based, ADB has been the chosen STB vendor to supply set-top boxes for the first phase of roll out on the terrestrial platform.

Andrey Shestakov, founder of TP5 said ADB was selected as the one supplier who could deliver at short notice with innovative set top box technology. It was at the top of the list of suppliers considered.

The ADB-3800T is an advanced digital set-top box incorporating standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) television reception based on MPEG-2 and H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC). The unit enables operators to optimise their broadcast bandwidth, whilst presenting consumers with the highest quality in sound and vision.

For the STB vendor's part, Philippe Lambinet, CEO of ADB said that the roll-out of high definition television (HDTV) in Russia is progressing rapidly and 'it is a great challenge' to be involved in this unique project which will see ADB launch products in Russia for the first time.

Telecom-project-5 Ltd, Russia is licensed by the Russian authorities to develop complete turnkey television network systems for satellite broadcast, terrestrial broadcast and Cable TV markets.

For telecom service providers and broadcast networks, Telecom- project-5 Ltd. offers to perform the following types of works as it has the all - important compliance certificates from the Russia Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications for equipment delivery and maintenance on earth satellite ground communication stations: Signal-12K, Signal-18K, Signal-24K, Signal-37K, Signal-76K, Signal-24, Signal-37, for the operations with the satellites “Express- A”, “Express-AM”, “Yamal”, “LMI-1” and receiving stations of the satellite TV Signal-12P, Signal-18P, Signal-20P, Signal-24P.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Digital Powerline Vendors | In-Stat Report Predicts 200% Growth

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has learned that Broadband powerline networking, a wired technology that does not require new cabling to be installed, is poised to emerge as a winner in the residential networking interface race on a across the world especially in the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Rim (along with Europe and Africa).

That is the result of the Arizona-based, In-Stat research that concludes that powerline networking has advantages over coaxial and twisted-pair cabling for in-home deployment.

The competing wired technologies, 'coaxial cabling' and 'twisted pair cabling', that also do not require new wires will end up sharing the market in some areas.

"Some service providers fully expect to use multiple technologies and mediums that will co-exist in their in-home deployments, as long as each medium meets the operators' service quality and cost objectives," says Joyce Putscher, In-Stat analyst.

Recent digital broadband powerline networking research by In-Stat found the following:

* In 2005, vendors shipments worldwide of broadband powerline equipment surpassed 2 million units, with the market only "going upwards".

* Annual shipments for broadband powerline equipment will exceed 200% growth in 2006.

* In addition to other reasons, broadband powerline access can be successful in selected areas where there may only be one broadband Internet provider.

Digital Mobile TV | UDcast iSplicer | At IBC 2006

Digital Mobile TV services vendor, UDcast at IBC 2006, Amsterdam is showcasing its new iSplicer DVB-H transmission technology for Mobile TV.

UDcast specialises in finding solutions in enabling full IP over broadcast media.

Put simply, this is a key component of high revenue generating and cost-optimised Mobile TV networks.

What the iSplicer does is to reduce network deployment time and increase service and advertising revenues thanks to its addressable approach to content and advertising distribution.

The dynamic isochronous content splicing feature allows geographical localisation of service packages and enables innovative advertising schemes. Mobile operators can direct advertising and local TV content to a specific region, enabling high advertising and subscription revenues.

In addition, mobile operators sharing one infrastructure that can differentiate service offerings with different TV packages for each operator and can regionalise content.

Mobile TV broadcasters and service providers, including Spanish broadcaster Abertis Telecom and content management and delivery company GlobeCast are in trials with UDcast saellite link to transmission tower system that avoids expensive and complex leased line or microwave links.

"Up to now, Mobile TV broadcasters and operators had a difficult trade-off to make between the level of investment in the infrastructure and the flexibility of their system. The flexibility is mandatory to enable attractive, consumer-driven content offers," said Dr. Antoine Clerget, VP, Engineering at UDcast. "UDcast's iSplicer enables broadcasters and operators, for the first time, to provide a high degree of content localization, addressable advertising and support for premium services without any significant overhead on the cost of the system."

The bottom line is that the iSplicer as part of UDcast's flexible digital Mobile TV architecture, will:

*boost Mobile TV advertising and content service revenues; *reduce network capital and operating expenditures of large DVB-H deployments *with savings by up to 40 percent.

UDcast says that the iSplicer is designed and targeted at all broadcasters, cellular phone operators and satellite service providers,deploying DVB-H-compliant Mobile TV solutions.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Digital Vendors | IDX | New DVB-S and DVB-S2 Products at IBC 2006

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has been informed by Ottawa-based, International Datacasting Corporation (TSX:IDC) that they have unveiled their next-generation of hybrid DVB-S & DVB-S2 product suite with MPEG-4 AVC and MPEG-4 HE-AAC for high speed distribution for IPTV, HDTV, Digital Cinema and enhanced IP services at IBC 2006, Amsterdam.

The new product suite is part of IDC’s new SuperFlex SFX3101 series— featuring IDC’s Pro Audio and Pro Video product lines that consist of new high performance satellite receivers, routers and integrated Datacast XD file and stream Content Distribution and Management software.

Feature-rich, DVB-S and DVB-S2 IDC products are a high performance end-to-end audio solution for demanding broadband applications: IPTV, Digital Cinema, MPEG-4/H.264 HDTV distribution,and file distribution for syndicated television applications.

For digital radio stations and networks, IDC’s SFX3103 Pro Audio with standard definition MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC compression technology is available as a DVB audio receiver with integrated Datacast XD for multimedia file transfer, Internet streaming and content distribution. The SFX3103 offers live IP audio decoding and time shift audio file playout features particularly useful in Digital Cinema, Digital Signage, computer-based training, financial and news distribution and virtual private networks (VPN’s).

Spurring on IDX with this product line and leading innovator in DVB IP multimedia applications and satellite IP connectivity solutions are two factors:

*the latest DVB-S /S2 products suite will now offer the combined benefits of MPEG-4 Advanced Video Codec (AVC) and DVB-S2 for cost- saving digital satellite transmission rates using reduced broadcast bandwidth capacity and drastically cutting operating costs by close to 50%.

*the market for DVB-S2 compliant equipment is expected to reach USD1.3 billion by 2009 as indicated from Northern Sky Research, an industry analyst firm. . .

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | Jordan | Media City JV with Arabsat

The project at Jordan Media City (JMC) Amman which Digital Broadcasters Vendor News wrote about earlier today is indeed a joint venture with Arab Satellite Communications organisation (Arabsat).

The JV includes building HDTV studios; the Harris Broadcast equipped Playout center for 16 TV channels ( to be increased gradually to 30 channels); a television production company capitalised at one million USD; to cooperate in providing global services for the transmission of digital TV channels to Europe, USA, South East Asia and Australia, and provide SNG mobile vehicle facilities for news and live events.

The line up of channels that JMC has contracted to transmit on Arabsat include:


* Supertech TV * Art Vision * Smartsway * Family TV * Stock TV * Sehtak * Al-Mirbad * TSN * U-Mark * Al Kamar


* Jeddah TV * Escape Music TV * Mersal * Be’aty * Ghinwa

The following channels are carried on Nilesat:

* Smatsway * Al-Diyar * Al-Hakikah * Normina * 7 Stars * Ishtar * Al-Najah * Al-Shababia * Melody Aflam * Monasabat * EIN

* ART Aflam1 * ART Aflam2 * ART Cinema * ARTEENZ * ART Tarab * ART Info * ART Hekayat * Iqraa * ART Movie World * VIP Channels * UKTV

* Sony TV * Sport 1 * Sport 2 * Sport 3 * Sport 4 * Sport 5 * Sport 6 * Sport 7 * Reality TV * NDTV * Rotana Radio

Also, JMC says on its web site that it has signed a contract with Arabsat to transmit one stream of 10 channels on C_band Digital.

Digital Broadcasters | Canada's ATN Offers More Exclusive Cricket TV

Digital broadcaster, Asian Television Network International Limited (ATN) (TSX-SAT), continues to bring World Class Cricket to its Canadian viewers from South Asia and other cricketing nations.

ATN, specialising in South Asian TV broadcasting in Canada has secured two more lots of Canadian Broadcast TV Programming Rights. First, the ICC Champions Trophy featuring ten top international teams playing 21 One Day International matches, and second, the Malaysia Tri-Series featuring 7 One Day Cricket Internationals.

The ICC Champions Trophy is cricket's one-day international tournament second in importance only to the Cricket World Cup. It was inaugurated as the ICC Knock Out tournament in 1998 and is played every two years. The tournament changed its name to the Champions Trophy in 2002. Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, New Zealand and England will play the 21 matches between October 7 and November 5.

The Malaysia Tri-Series between Australia, India & West Indies actually comes before the ICC Champions Trophy, playing September 12 - 24. The tri-series marks the start of India's new international cricket season.

All the games are to shown live, exclusively on CBN, the Commonwealth Broadcasting Network, and rebroadcast as well at prime-time on Bell ExpressVu, Rogers Cable TV systems and Telus TV - depending on which part of Canada these television services operate.

Digital broadcaster ATN, is based in Ontario and operates 13 television channels, including CBN, and has programming alliances with leading International Broadcasters.

Digital Broadcasters | Jordan Media City | Installs More Harris Equipment for Arabsat

Digital broadcasters facility, Jordan Media City Company (JMC) in Amman has completed installation of a new Arabsat playout transmission center having chosen Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS)as broadcast equipment supplier.

The Arab Satellite Communications Organisation (Arabsat) digital TV equipment line up from Harris Broadcast includes nine NEXIO scalable and modular server platforms; an Integrator Gold wideband digital multi-rate router; an Inscriber G3 HD/SD- selectable character generator (CG) system; Videotek TVM-850 test and measurement instruments; NEO SuiteView modular multiviewer and a range of infrastructure products.

Initially accommodating 16 channels, the new Arabsat playout channels at JMC went on air September 1, 2006. JMC will gradually expand the Arabsat facility to accommodate 32 channels.

Radi Alkhas, CEO of JMC seems pretty satisfied with Harris Broadcast. He said in a statement that over the last few years since Jordan Media City first installed its NEXIO server platforms to play out eight channels, JMC has used Harris Broadcast through a number of phased expansions since then which have been very successful.

The Arabsat digital playout TV facility at JMC now feeds 16 channels of satellite programming for Middle East distribution based on nine NEXIO server platforms with more than 1000 hours of storage.

The NEXIO platforms are split across two domains: the ingest domain is configured as eight record/play ports and eight play ports, while the transmission domain is configured as two record/play and 18 play ports.

This configuration offers an effective redundancy solution for the client as the ingest domain provides backup for the transmission domain in the event of a failure. The playout automation for this multichannel service is based on a Pebble Beach Neptune automation system, and the archive is provided by a Sony PetaSite S Series tape library. Content is copied between the ingest domain, transmission domain and digital library over a fast Gigabit network.

Jordan Media City, Amman is located next to state broadcaster, Jordan Radio and Television and is also home to Arab Radio and Television's "ART" Bouquet of digital satellite TV channels.

Digital Broadcasters | India | Nimbus Appoints STAR to Distribute NEO TV Channels

We at Digital Broadcasters Vendor News have carried the announcements earlier that Mumbai-based, Nimbus Sports Broadcast was to start its three channel sports operation.

Like everyone else we were kept in the dark as to distribution.

Now we know. Nimbus Sports Broadcast has appointed STAR India to exclusively distribute its forthcoming 'bouquet' of NEO sports channels.

The first of the digital TV channels, the wall-to-wall Indian Cricket TV channel, NEO SPORTS is set to be launched in the last quarter of 2006. This will be followed by NEO SPORTS Plus, a sports entertainment channel, which is expected to be launched by the end of the year and a third one before 2007.

STAR India has exclusive distribution rights for NEO SPORTS and NEO SPORTS Plus through to 2010 and will also distribute any future sports channels from the NEO SPORTS stable.

With nearly 200 days of cricket every year lined up on NEO SPORTS, of which over 100 days will be live India cricket including all BCCI events and between 3-4 international series every year; the NEO SPORTS channel is expected to reach a majority of the cable & satellite homes, especially since it will be powered by STAR India’s distribution capabilities.

Nimbus holds the v-e-r-y expensive broadcast rights to ICC India games. They needed to have their own channels to carry the extensive airtime - in house as well as deals outside.

Now they have done it with STAR India.

What role will digital satellite broadcaster, ESPN STAR Sports India have to play in all this?

There are other stories on our site on Nimbus and their financing.

So far, no mention has been made at all.

Digital Broadcasters | Pacific Radio | Tsunami Issues Facing Radio Stations

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has a good connection in the Radio Heritage Foundation in Wellington, New Zealand and their web site

The latest radio heritage documentary examines the current state of radio broadcasting in the Pacific region, and concludes that 'just staying on air' is a struggle.

Issues facing radio stations across the region include natural disasters such as cyclones [hurricanes], volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis [tidal waves], human interference such as riots, coups, intimidation of staff and corruption, as well as resource problems such as skyrocketing oil prices, old equipment and the lack of trained technical staff.

Hear vivid examples of these issues, and more at http://

Digital Broadcasters | New Zealand | SKY Books "Emuse Absolutely"

In digital broadcasters news, Pay-TV operator, SKY New Zealand has entered into a 2 year agreement with [emuse absolutely] to design, build, test and deploy interactive advertising across wholly-owned or affiliate SKY NZ channels and third-party broadcasters.

emuse absolutely will deliver to SKY, broadcast-ready interactive advertising associated with linear television advertising or programming, the aggregation of data and the provision of consolidated campaign response reporting.

emuse absolutely will offer a range of interactive advertising solutions to SKY clients, and the SKY Advertising sales team will be responsible for the promotion and sale of all emuse services to all their advertising clients and agencies.

“We are thrilled to be working with SKY New Zealand” says Patrick Rainsford CEO emuse absolutely. “We have a long-standing relationship with BSkyB in the UK, and this new agreement with SKY NZ shows again the commitment on both sides to provide quality interactive advertising and content.” He continues, “The R.O.I. for broadcasters and advertisers alike has been proven over and over again and the agreement with SKY NZ is further validation that the model works internationally.”

Advertisers will now be able to strengthen their campaigns by including an interactive element by simply getting in touch with their contact at the SKY Advertising sales office.

“New Zealand advertisers are showing an increasing interest in enhancing their linear TV campaigns with Interactive Advertising.” says Richard Last , Director Advertising Sales SKY NZ. “SKY is pleased to be working with emuse absolutely to offer a range of proven Interactive Advertising formats. The local advertisers can benefit from the experience emuse have gained working in the global market

UK Digital vendor, [emuse absolutely] is a leading international interactive advertising service operating in all the major territories. In the UK alone emuse absolutely offers access to up to 20 million set-top-boxes (STB's) enabling advertisers greater reach and viewers a higher quality of service.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | TVNZ New Zealand | Commits To ScheduALL

Digital broadcaster news from New Zealand sees state broadcaster, Television New Zealand, TVNZ using ScheduALL management operations software to control all of its production resources, both facilities and personnel, in all its locations on both the North Island and South Island of the country.

ScheduALL provides TVNZ with a single intuitive solution for managing the many elements of internal productions, as well as projects for external customers.

Paul Evans, manager of the TVNZ Project Office said that TVNZ was looking for a digital broadcast vendor with an established presence in the broadcasting industry and the ability to support the company's full facilities management process.

Evans said that the ScheduALL system could deliver the range of functions needed by TVNZ as it was an intuitive system, designed specifically for the broadcast environment, and TVNZ's users have said that ScheduALL ‘works the way we think'.

He added that having consolidated a number of business units around the country into a single national team, TVNZ needed a facilities management system that mirrored its new structure.

Previously TVNZ used four different software packages, manual systems, and spreadsheets. Now, using one fully integrated system nationwide, management has one source of information for decision- making and just one process for all of the system's users.

The ScheduALL software allows TVNZ to analyze its business performance nationally from a common base of information. Resource availability is now more visible across the business, and opportunities to move staff and equipment around the country are easier to identify. As the TV broadcaster continues to grow, TVNZ need only update and expand its ScheduALL system, rather than multiple systems across the business.

"At a management level, ScheduALL gives us a much greater degree of confidence around the management information we are seeing, and that leads to better decision-making," added David Wright, TVNZ's national production services manager. "External customers are seeing better billing information, and it's enhanced our relationship with internal productions as there is an easier process to book resources."

Digital broadcaster, TVNZ's two national terrestrial TV networks, TV One and TV2 carry advertising.

ScheduALL is based in Hollywood, Florida. ScheduALL global and regional users include the BBC, Fox News Network, The Associated Press, IntelSat, Turner Studios, Mediaset, CBC Canada, ABC Australia, RTL, NewSkies Satellites and now .

Digital Content | AIMIA Australia | Drastic Cut in Export Incentives

The digital content industry in Australia employs some 300,000 people and contributes A$21 billion annually to the Australian economy. These figures are supported by the Federal Government by none other than Senator Helen Coonan and Ian Macfarlane, the Ministers of Communications and for Industry, Tourism and Resources respectively, in an industry report early this year.

Yet the same government is cutting 50 per cent of its export funding for the digital content industry provided through the Austrade TradeStart program. This will affect all new tenders to be applied for by AIMIA - The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association.

John Butterworth, AIMIA CEO said the cut will result in a significant reduction of export services to the Digital Content Industry and broader ICT sector in Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia. It will also result in the closure of AIMIA’s Queensland office which has for the last 6 years serviced these states. The office will close in late October 2006 unless alternative funding can be sourced. Butterworth said that AIMIA were angry at the Government's move in reallocating funding away from digital content, which goes directly against recent recommendations which identified exporting Australian digital content as a “high priority”.

AIMIA members have spoken out.

Che Metcalfe, founder of Kukan Studio, an Adelaide-based developer of content for mobiles that now exports to Europe, Asia, and North America, said the AIMIA TradeStart program had helped budding digital content exporters that were not based in News South Wales or Victoria.

“The program was a major help to us in getting our first export sale and to see it cut like this is outrageous. There will be other companies like ours that will take a lot longer or might not ever make it to international markets without help from these sorts of programs. For an export-focused country like ours it’s a bizarre decision,” Mr Metcalfe said.

Val Sanders, Managing Director of Queensland-based Conference Online said Digital content companies outside Sydney and Melbourne will be the ones hardest hit by this decision.

“You can’t cut the funding and resources in half, close the office that services the other states, and expect that the whole country is going to continue to get the same opportunities and help from the program. It’s just not realistic,” Mr Sanders said.

Franco Smargarsi from Compass EduMedia in Western Australia said cutting the digital content TradeStart program would directly reduce the number of Australian companies that could access the export assistance the program provides.

“Getting into international markets is hard enough at the best of times. Given that the world is going digital you’d think they’d be increasing the resources for helping Aussie content companies sell overseas, not cutting them,” he said.

This is yet another occasion when the current government says one thing and simply does something else. AIMIA and the digital content industry in Australia deserves better than this Federal Government that is losing its way.

Digital Content | ABC Australia | Cordes Joins ABC Enterprises

At digital broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Katie Cordes has been taken on to be Manager of Product and Content Development, in the ABC Enterprises division.

Cordes has a strong background in interactive TV, digital and online media, content producing and program sales and has been snapped from "Nickelodeon Australia" where she was Digital Media Director handling development, production and promotion of innovative and cross media content across multiple media distribution platforms.

Cordes role at ABC Enterprises is be the focal point of contact for producers and content developers who are interested in working with ABC Consumer Publishing and Content Sales in the development and production of consumer products and content.

ABC Consumer group covers diverse range of businesses: DVD and video distribution | book, audio and magazine publishing | music recording labels and publishing | toy gift manufacturing and distribution licensing | event management | development and production of digital consumer products | and product and content sales in the Australian and international "business-to-business" marketplace.

Katie Cordes will report to Ty Speer, GM, ABC Consumer Publishing and Content Sales.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | ABC Australia | Goes "Green" and Cuts Costs

At the national digital broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, its new MD, Mark Scott is turning "green". Not with envy of anyone but he has got the "green" bug and has launched a comprehensive "Energy Audit".

What that means is that every building across the country in which the ABC operates is to analyse how energy is being used and where savings can be made. Importantly to cut "waste".

Air conditioning is to be targeted, as is the aim to reduce lighting energy and to identify best practices for recycling paper and other materials.

Mr Scott wants the ABC to seen as an efficient user of energy. As he puts it in a press statement: "At the ABC it means working together in a way that reduces our energy needs."

Mr Scott said the ABC would benchmark itself against industry leaders in creating environmentally sound and responsible workplaces.

He said he wants a significant achievement in this area.

It has been my experience in television facility operations that it usually comes down to the biggest battle between the chief engineer and the financial controller. At issue: temperature control in technical areas. The money guy says raise the usual temperature by a degree or two and save 1000's, while the technical chief says it will ruin the equipment. In state run radio and TV stations it probably is not an issue, but in commercially run companies, it matters.

At Australia's ABC it sounds as though, it too matters. The bottom line is financial first and then civic responsibility and good governance. Some cynics may say this is killing two birds with one stone - cut cost and look good to the government.

The digitally - driven, Australian Broadcasting Corporation is regarded as a 'national institution' down under. If often falls foul of policies of the government of the day. The current regime is no different. But the ABC of 'here and now' is a leader in Internet media technologies and applications, and is as strong as ever.

Digital Audio | Euphonix | At IBC 2006, Amsterdam

Digital audio vendor Euphonix unveiled its new DF66 DSP SuperCore processing engine for the Euphonix range of broadcast and audio post mixing systems at IBC 2006, Amsterdam. (September 8-12).

The new digital processing engine works with both Max Air and System 5-B/BP broadcast consoles and is also available for the Euphonix System 5-F/P audio post models.

Euphonix says the new DSP SuperCore is an extremely powerful and modular DSP system, which supports dual-redundant power supplies, and an optional 100% redundant DSP SuperCore system.

This failover redundancy system allows for a completely redundant, backup DF66 DSP core to run in parallel with a primary DSP core. In the event of a failure, the entire DF66 audio path, including all I/O devices and router, is switched over to the backup system.

The DF66 DSP Core is a 4U chassis, and provides the primary signal- processing engine for the System 5 and Max Air digital-audio mixing consoles. It is comprised of a system board and up to six plug-in SP662 DSP cards. Although the DF66 design is optimized for typical audio mixing applications, the hardware itself is actually a highly flexible platform for real-time DSP, signal I/O, and routing between these functions. This technology will enable a wide variety of potential future applications. Key aspects of the design are scalability, modularity, serviceability, reliability, and outstanding audio performance.

The DF66 DSP Core is just one of a number of new innovative products in the Euphonix digital audio stable.

Privately-owned, Euphonix was founded in 1988 in Silicon Valley, California.

Euphonix has built a reputation for supplying innovative equipment to the large format digital audio console users in broadcast, production and post production activities.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Digital Vendors | TSL | Kuwait Dar al Watan TV Channel Contract

Digital broadcast equipment vendor and TV system integrator, Television Systems Ltd - TSL has won a vital contract to build a complete high definition television (HDTV) production and playout facility for a new private, Kuwaiti TV station.

The two "Dar Al-Watan" satellite TV channels-to-be, are owned by the respected Middle Eastern publishing house of the same name.

UK-based, TSL is to design, supply and integrate a complete HDTV facility on behalf of Dar Al-Watan, which will be split between two sites in Kuwait City, the country's capital.

The main structure will house the largest TV studio in the Middle- East, and a second smaller space, which will contain the HDTV studios, Master Control Room (MCR) and two channels of HD transmission Playout.

The second site will house a further three HD studios with edit suites. Both sites will produce a variety of HD programs that will be distributed to homes in the region via satellite.

Centre piece at the Dar Al-Watan facilities will be "Pebble Beach" Neptune automation system, selected for the main site, which will form the heart of the MCR.

Neptune will manage HD broadcast playout of both channels and the design of the new HD broadcast playout suite also comprises a Leitch IconMaster modular master control and branding system and a Miranda Kaleido Alto multi-image display processor for monitoring. The TV play out server will be based around the latest Omneon Spectrum server.

The production element will be based on Apple’s Xserve RAID and Final Cut Pro will take centre stage in the new network’s edit suites. Management of the studio recording and play-in will be by Gallery Software based around its Virtual VTR package.

Russell Grute for TSL Sales said that after 20 years in the broadcast business, this was the first contract in Kuwait. He noted that TSL designed system system based on a very straight-forward tapeless workflow permitted "Dar Al-Watan" to get up a running in HD very quickly.

Digital broadcast vendor, TSL did not say when they plan to get the station on air.

[We do not believe the names for the Dar Al Watan satellite channels have been announced. If you know them, please let us know.]

Kuwait Ministry of Information runs a number of radio and TV channels by terrestrial transmission and satellite broadcasting. "Al rai" satellite TV and Flash TV are the other private TV station in Kuwait. The fist private radio station is music station "Marina FM"

Monday, September 04, 2006

Digital Broadcast Vendors | at IBC 2006

German Digital Vendor XentauriX, New Product at IBC 2006, Amsterdam

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia has learned that artec technologies Inc. (WKN:520958), known for its streaming media and IPTV software and hardware solutions for intranet and Internet communications has unveiled for IBC 2006, XentauriX – a Microsoft TV/ IPTV-compatible media service platform. XentauriX utilises IPTV solutions for corporate TV applications, movie on demand, e-learning, personal video recorders and video search engines.

XentauriX is a service and management digital platform incorporating an integrated CVOD (Continuous Video on Demand) technology developed by artec technologies (patent protected) with which complex streaming media projects can be realised for interactive business and web-TV, entertainment or cinema-on-demand.

By uniquely combining live streaming, server-end recording and the parallel integration of metadata, XentauriX IPTV empowers the user to track TV broadcasts and recordings wherever and whenever they want - via set-top boxes, desktop PCs, notebooks, mobiles, handhelds, etc. Even during television transmission, recordings are at clients' disposal for instant replay. Metadata enables fast recording retrieval and allows clients to save broadcast and recording bookmarks with commentaries.

The XentauriX IPTV system has evolved from the original XentauriX platform – a multimedia device where video, audio and metadata were seamlessly linked. TV, video, radio and metadata are encoded, streamed, centrally or de-centrally recorded, managed and administered from various locations via one single platform. Fully loaded with extensive user administration options, VoD clips can be manually or automatically generated on the spot and are then available to viewers instantaneously - saving personnel and studio costs. Broadcast queries can be processed with a variety of devices, be they multimedia PCs, set-top boxes or handhelds. Whenever and whatever users want, they can keep track of "their" broadcasts – even in HDTV.

As Ingo Hoffman, MD at artec technologies further elaborated, "The original XentauriX platform became a firm favourite among world-wide TV and cable providers, being reliable, simple to operate and multi- faceted. After having been used for several years as a streaming media solution for internet TV or E-Learning, the XentauriX platform now interfaces with set-top boxes to provide XentauriX capability for IPTV environments – opening up new business opportunities and providing superior interactive television over the Internet.”

Digital Broadcasters | John Cleese at Australia's Annual Radio Meet

Commercial Radio Australia has confirmed to us at digital broadcasters vendor news Asia the list of top speakers for the annual one day radio conference at which some 400 of Australia's good and the great in the radio broadcasting sector will be present.

This year’s "Australian Radio Conference" will be held at the Crystal Palace Conference Centre at Luna Park in Sydney on Friday, October 13 (for any one superstitious about dates, then this is one to note).

Some of the hot topics on the agenda:

*The impact of the Internet on Digital radio, *cross media ownership and *what radio will sound and look like in 2010?

Actor and comic genius, "John Cleese", is key note speaker.

He will recall his early days in radio, his experience in advertising and his views on creativity in life, drawing on a 42-year career spanning radio, films, TV and advertising.

Graeme Samuel, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will discuss the future of 'media in Australia' as a result of changes to media laws and the ACCC’s role in facilitating "digital radio".

Milan Rokic is Asia-Pacific Marketing Director of 'Cirque du Soleil'. He will address balancing creativity with managing a unique global entertainment brand.

Tasmanian-born Dirk Anthony is Group Program Director at 'Gcap Media', formed in 2005 from the merger of the UK’s two biggest radio companies, GWR and 'Capital'. He will talk about how to find and keep good on-air radio talent.

Jim Cook is SVP of Creative at 'Clear Channel Radio', the US leading coast-to-coast, radio network of 1200 radio stations, and reaching 100 million listeners. He will discuss how to engage listeners in an over-communicated world.

California-based Dennis Clark produces Ryan Seacrest’s 'KIIS FM' radio program and spent 10 years working for the legendary Rick Dees. He will espouse on successful breakfast radio formats.

Jeff Thomas is the imaging producer for Howard Stern’s satellite radio channels in the US. Jeff will join a discussion panel on what makes great audio imaging and promotions.

Chris Lytle is the author of the business best seller, 'The Accidental Salesperson', which has been published in English, Mandarin, Korean and Spanish. His topic - up-to-the-minute practical strategies and tools for advertising, marketing, sales and management.

Paul Gardner is chairman of 'Grey Global Group' Australia. He will touch upon the latest insights on communications and the media taken from the annual "Eye on Australia" study. The results reveal current consumer attitudes to life and brands.

A reminder of the panel discussions:

* The revenue outlook for radio and media; * Fast forward to 2010, exploring future roles and relationships between radio and the Internet, and * Digital radio developments featuring experts in multimedia content and technology.

That is the Australian Radio Conference, Crystal Palace Conference Centre, Luna Park, Sydney. Friday October 13, 2006.

This has been a diary note from [digital broadcasters | vendor news Asia]

Digital Broadcasters | ASBU Moves from AsiaSat 3S to AsiaSat 2

Key Arab digital satellite broadcasters on Asiasat-3S are migrating to Asiasat-2 from October 1, according to Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat)(SEHK: 1135HK) and New York (NYSE: SAT.

Referred to, as the Arabsat/ASBU Bouquet, the channels concerned will parallel transmit both on current satellite, Asiasat-3S from now until October 1. From that date the Arab Bouquet will be entirely on Asiasat-2.

The Arabsat/ASBU Bouquet on AsiaSat 2 is using a C-band transponder: 5A, 3820 MHz Polarisation: Vertical Modulation: QPSK Symbol Rate: 27500 FEC: 3/4.

This Arabic-language Bouquet consists of both radio and services from the ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union): Abu Dhabi TV Europe, Jamahiriya Satellite Channel (Libya), Oman TV, Palestinian TV, Qatar TV, Saudi Arabian TV 1, Sharjah TV, Sudan TV, Syria Satellite Channel, Yemen TV and 13 radio channels.

The ASBU broadcast initiative is part of the ASBU’s global satellite coverage in partnership with GlobeCast and Arabsat.

“AsiaSat 2 carries an established Middle Eastern community of programming from the Arab States. Moving the Arabsat/ASBU Bouquet to AsiaSat 2 is therefore the natural choice for continuing and expanding the broadcast services of our member channels in Asia and Australasia. We appreciate the value of joining Asia’s most popular multicultural and multilingual broadcast platform, bringing our member channels to wider Arab audiences across the region,” said Abdelrahim Suleiman, ASBU Technical Director.

Eng. Khalid Balkhyour, Arabsat President and CEO, welcomed the move of the Bouquet to AsiaSat 2, “We are committed to actively support the development and success of the Arabsat/ASBU Bouquet and are glad to see the move to an even stronger neighbourhood of Arabic and foreign programming on AsiaSat 2.”

The Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU)members include 28 Arab networks broadcasting via satellite either their own programs or retransmissions of other channels. Of its member broadcasters, 17 are state-run and 11 are owned and managed by Arab privately owned radio and TV channels.

[See also the story today here at [digital broadcasters vendor news asia] of fellow Moslem digital broadcaster, Radio Television Brunei International launching its Malay and English TV satellite channel on Asiasat 2.

Digital Broadcasters | RTB Brunei Reaches All of Asia on AsiaSat 2

Digital broadcaster, Radio Television Brunei (RTB) that has been broadcasting by satellite in Southeast Asia is to reach farther afield. From September 1, RTB has moved on to a C-band transponder on AsiaSat 2 owned by Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited, Hong Kong (SEHK: 1135HK) and New York (NYSE: SAT).

The free-to-air distribution of the ‘RTB International’ television channel, will now span the whole of Asia, Australia and the Middle East with the wider footprint.

RTB International in a 24/7 format in Malay and English covers news, current affairs, the Muslim religion, dramas, musicals, game shows, documentaries, sports, magazines and educational programming.

Lim Sam Lee, Acting Director of RTB said that RTB had been using AsiaSat 2 for the past few years already for the Asiavision daily television news exchange service with many other Asian TV broadcasters.

RTB International is on AsiaSat 2's, Transponder: 5B,3786.5 MHz, Polarisation: Horizontal, Modulation: QPSK, Symbol Rate: 6000, FEC: 7/8

It is interesting to note that RTB's International expansion is ahead of the planned international television service of Radio Television Malaysia that is yet to become a reality.

Radio Television Brunei (RTB), established in 1975, is the national broadcaster of the oli-rich Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. More than thirty years old, RTB originates more than 70 per cent of its airtime. It is a prominent member of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and Asia-Pacific Institute of Broadcasting. Recently it has embarked on joint radio programming with neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia to promote common understanding between their three peoples, who are predominantly Malays.

(see also the story today in Digital Broadcasters Vendor News on Arab States Broadcasting Union TV Bouquet of digital broadcasters starting on Asiasat 2 as well)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Digital Radio | DZRB English Radio For Schools Project, also Online

This is a little off the beaten track for digital broadcasters vendor news, but as a loyal Englishman to my country, my way of speaking correct English and the BBC, I punched my fist into the air and exclaimed aloud, "yes, yes" on reading* that English - English is being broadcast by radio station "DZRB" to school children audiences in the Philippines, which we all know is a very pro-American speaking country!

In Manila, the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) said it wants to put a radio in every classroom in the country to broadcast voice lessons on English proficiency.

The man behind the project is Education Secretary, Jesli Lapus.

Thank you Mr Lapus!

Mr Lapus said the award-winning radio program modules were produced by the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC).

He said the modules were part of the "Adopt-a-School" program of the department where local government units (LGU's) and the private sector are encouraged to donate funds to improve the quality of education.

The radio station we have to thank is "Radyo ng Bayan" or otherwise known as radio station, "dzRB" on AM768kHz.

Station dzRB is part of the Philippine Broadcasting Service, government radio of the "Philippine Information Agency", created in 1986 by virtue of Executive Order 100 signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino.

Mrs Aquino believed in the importance of a national agency to build a strong republic to respond to the information needs of the citizens.

Back to the "English By Radio" from the BBC - “The problem is giving radios to every classroom. We are tapping LGUs for that through their Special Education Fund (SEF) and the public sector. We call on these sectors to help us,” said Lapus during a recent press conference at the DepEd National Office in Pasig City.

“I’ve heard it (the BBC program) and I think it’s very good. It’s very basic and it will be good for the students. Our expert educators here say it would be good for the teaching of English as a second language,” Lapus said.

Note:The first language of the Philippines is of course, Tagalog, but the country has 111 languages and dialects. English is therefore very much the every day language "lingua franca" amongst the educated classes alongside Tagalog.

According to a 1998 law, Lapus said private corporations would be given tax incentives to sponsor the "Adopt-a-School" program. So far, he said, the private sector has contributed around 2.2 billion pesos (USD1.00 = P50 approx) to the project.

“We are continuing these programs with more rigor. We want to take these programs on a nationwide scale. Time is of the essence in the strengthening the quality of education,” he said.

It is worthwhile noting that radio is still the most accessible form of media in the Philippines, reaching 81.22% of households compared to a 44.93% television reach.

Latest count there are over 250AM and 200 FM radio stations in the Philippines. These are operated by commercial, political and civic organizations. AM radio stations broadcast mainly in Filipino and the regional dialects; FM radio stations are usually in English. News updates are broadcast every hour.

Hear for yourself the lessons on "dzRB" can be heard online at:

Other Philippine Broadcasting Service radio stations online:

"DZRP" "Radio Pilipinas Overseas Broadcast" online at:

"DZSR" "PBS DZSR Radio" online at:

"DZRM" "PBS DZRM Radio" online at:

"DWBR Live" "PBS Business Radio Live" online at:

We at [digital broadcasters vendor news] are happy this application of English-English in the Phillipines. We hope similar broadcasts expand throughout the region.

*Partly referenced from the The Enquirer:

Friday, September 01, 2006

Digital Network Vendor | Scopus at IBC 2006

Scopus Video Networks (NASDAQ:SCOP), based in Tel Aviv, a digital video networking vendor, is using IBC 2006, Amsterdam (September 8 - 12) to launch two new platforms for emerging digital video networks: the NMS-7000 Video Networking Management System and the IRD-2900 MPEG-4 H.264 SD decoder.

Scopus’ new NMS-7000 video networking management system provides complete and total service-level management of video services across big and small networks and headends. The flexible NMS-7000 allows customers to enter the required service functions while the unit continuously operates and manages the end-to-end content delivery system.

Scopus’ new multi-format decoding platform decodes either MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 Standard Definition TV broadcast content and is based on the successful IRD-2900 series. It features-rich, reception front-ends such as: DVB-S2, single or dual L-Band inputs, DSNG, dual MPEG-over- IP input, G.703, and DS3. It also integrates cutting-edge IP technologies, decryption, IP data output (MPE decapsulation), SNMP and web-based management. The combination of MPEG-4 SD decoding and DVB-S2 de-modulation, improves bandwidth utilization by over three times enhancing content distribution services for television operators.

Scopus will show these, as well as comprehensive IP digital video networking solutions for satellite, cable TV, telecomms and terrestrial networks.