Website: Rapid TV News
Rapid TV News understands that Arabsat is making good progress with plans to launch an HDTV bouquet over the whole of the Middle East.
The bouquet will include at least one encrypted channel, believed to be a Canal+ service, although it is not yet clear whether Canal+ has plans to commercialise the channel.
Canal+ is already active in supplying ‘Le Bouquet de Canal+’ to Arabsat viewers in some key North African countries. Canal’s existing North African bouquet comprises 35 channels with active marketing taking place in Algeria and Morocco, and with marketing about to start in Tunisia. Each of these countries has strong French links and linguistic traditions.
Meanwhile Arabsat’s plans draw on Luxe TV’s luxury channel (in HDTV), NHK World (in HDTV, from Tokyo) and Alfacam’s HD1 channel broadcasting from Belgium.
Each is designed to showcase the best possible HDTV content ahead of other concepts that Arabsat has to push HDTV choices onto viewers.
HD-Ready sets are plentiful, although there is said to be a scarcity of suitable free-to-air set-top boxes. However, to date, with next to zero HD content available there hasn’t been the need for the box market to be supplied. Arabsat sees that changing.
Other HD channels are also expected to be on air shortly. Dream TV, out of Egypt, says it has an HD channel ready to go and is investing in HD content, while Al-Kass, a Qatar-based sports channel says it is already making test transmissions in HDTV.
Al-Kass is also experimenting with 3D although has no plans, as yet, to start transmissions.
Egypt’s giant ERTU also says it is in the final stages of equipping two studios at its Nile-side production complex in Cairo for HD and expects to see transmissions begin this coming winter.