Major Mid-East HD win for Eutelsat
November 1, 2011
By Chris Forrester
Eutelsat has won a ‘multiyear’ contract to supply capacity on Atlantic Bird 7 to MBC, the Middle East’s market-leading broadcaster. The deal covers a full transponder allowing MBC to transmit a number of HD channels to Arab viewers. Atlantic Bird 7 sits alongside Nilesat’s two major satellites and is thus ‘visible’ widely throughout the Middle East.
MBC says it will be using the new capacity to expand its platform of channels, and will be adding extra HD material from January 2012. Atlantic Bird 7 takes over from AB-4A, and already carries some 400 TV channels. MBC’s position on the satellite, and a commitment to HDTV, is a key indicator that high definition is beginning to happen in the region.
However, the contact begs the question of ‘where’s YahSat?’ A similar contract with YahSat’s ‘Yahlive’ service has been talked about for some time. YahSat/Yahlive has made much of its strong commitment to HDTV, and winning channels such as MBC would be vital to its future success.
A report from YahSat’s CEO Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani recently admitted that some capacity bookings had been achieved, and talks were still underway with a number of Middle East broadcasters about carriage on the new satellite. “For broadcasting, we have some channels already signed and some are lining up. So it’s just a matter of finalising contracts,” he said. “We are targeting all the major broadcasters.”
Yahsat reportedly is in talks with Dubai Media Incorporated” (DMI) – which broadcasts channels such as Dubai TV, Dubai One and Dubai Sports and with Abu Dhabi Media, which owns channels such as Abu Dhabi Al Oula and the Abu Dhabi Drama Channel.