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Isle of Man set for broadcast media boost

The September 9th announcement that satellite operator SES is to build a new teleport on the Isle of Man could lead to growth in the broadcast media sector, according to one of the figureheads of the scheme, formally unveiled at a special ceremony on the island .

Speaking exclusively to advanced-television.com, Stuart Semark, Special Adviser on Broadcast Media to the Department of Economic Development and a 30-yer veteran of running media businesses on the island, revealed that the genesis of the project followed a request from the Department two years previously when initiatives for boosting the Isle of Man’s industrial sectors were discussed at a round table.

Semark outlined possibilities for the broadcast media sector, following up with a position paper, and some six months into the process, was introduced to Richard Arning, Vice President of Business Development at SES, who suggested there was a chance that SES might consider setting up a teleport.

“At this stage, it was very much a dream, an idea,” admitted Semark. For Arning, it was important for Semark to carry out research to enable him to present a case to the SES board. Following expressions of interest from a number of global media players, Semark and Arning were in a position for Arning to proceed, with board approval being given in Spring 2016.

“The plan currently is that the building of the new teleport will commence late autumn this year, taking some nine months until it’s up and running,” advised Semark. In the meanwhile, existing SES facilities can be utilised, in particular those of SES’s newly-created MX1 media distribution and management business.

“What we have now is a situation where we could be offering IPTV channels a home here and traditional satellite distribution, which, for the island, is a tremendous asset to be able to create a hub of broadcast media companies. It’s like a foundation to create a burgeoning sector.”

According to Semark, the thing that fascinated SES was the marriage of its technical expertise with the Isle of Man government’s ability to support and back any channels that might come, because there are a lot of playout facilities. “That’s not its USP. Its USP is that it’s a place where there is zero corporation tax. It’s a place where there are 40 per cent grants towards other ‘kit and caboodle’ requirements such as marketing. There is a sovereign £50 million fund which is there to help existing businesses develop and new businesses establish themselves on the island. There’s a media fund which is much more skewed to the sector we are working in,” he added.

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