Digitization of radio and TV broadcasting

ASBU's activities in the field of audio and TV broadcasting digitization have been characterized by the attention paid to a variety of themes, including, most importantly:

  • Participating in the international radiocommunications and protection of frequency allocations conferences
  • Support the recovery of SDTV and HDTV terrestrial TV broadcasting
  • Integrating the ASBU Profile in the DAB specifications
  • Supporting DAB development in the Arab region
  • Organizing the 2019 Winter High Frequency Coordination Conference in cooperation with the HFCC
  • Studying arrangements for the introduction of the Mobile TV
  • The Arab Unified Bouquet: A major joint Arab action success story

Participation in international radiocommunication conferences and protection of frequency allocations:

ُThrough its participation in international radiocommunication conferences, ASBU contributes to the protection of radio and television frequency allocations to serve the interests of the viewers and listeners

ASBU has actively participated in various regional and global conferences and provided support to Arab corporations:

World Conference on Planning Satellite Broadcasting Services in TV Bands.

  • The conference planned ten television channels for each country in a specific orbital location, which allowed it to commercially operate its satellite based on digital broadcasting

RRC04 / 06 Regional Conference for the Planning of UHF and VHF Digital Radio and Television Services

  • o ASBU and its member corporations participated in the Expert Group for the planning and distribution of frequencies. Thus has been a great success for the Arab countries which obtained important radio and TV frequency allocations.

WRC12 وWRC-15

  • o During these conferences, mobile phone networks sought to acquire TV UHF frequencies for use in radio, television and internet services, which makes the viewer subject to monopoly and to very high fees
  • o ASBU, in cooperation with the international radio unions, has maintained radio and television frequency allocations and addressed the global, political and commercial powers that tend to provide frequencies for mobile broadband service. This cooperation has made it possible to maintain the bulk of radio and television frequency allocations. Such allocations are an important national wealth that made it possible to provide free media services to citizens.

Preparation of the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference

  • ASBU is following the preparation process for the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference through its specialized working groups.
  • ASBU continues its cooperation with the Arab Frequency Spectrum Task Force, in order to maintain the services of digital TV and DAB broadcasting
  • In the framework of ASBU's cooperation with the other members of the international radio unions, a document was submitted to ITU requesting it to maintain radio and TV bands and calling for the viewer to be protected from commercial monopoly.

Continued development of terrestrial television broadcasting and the higher viewership rates in the Arab world

DVB-T2 / DVB-T broadcasting of SDTV and HDTV continues to develop in the Arab world along with a rise in viewership figures, according to the results of the questionnaire conducted by ASBU on the introduction of the digital TV service in Arab countries. We note that 8 Arab countries have successfully completed the digital transition and managed to develop coverage by rates that range between 85% and 100% of the population. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. The rate of penetration of this technology with households in these countries ranges between 25 and 55%. The Sultanate of Oman has also started installing 68 DVB-T2 / HEVC broadcasting stations covering 85% of the population in the first phase. Both Jordan and Palestine have begun testing and expanding coverage.

ASBU recommends the introduction of HEVC technology to support the introduction of terrestrial HDTV, with the possibility to broadcast a significant number of channels. It also recommends supporting awareness and sensitization mechanisms for viewers, a good choice of program content, including sports programs so that they can be broadcasted exclusively and promoted through the digital network for higher viewership and a lower cost of the sports rights acquired. ASBU has continued its contacts with Arab authorities and member corporations to integrate receivers with DVB-T2 / HEVC / MPEG-4 systems.

Integrating the ASBU Profile in the DAB specifications

ASBU, in cooperation with WorldDAB, has made great efforts to include the ASBU profile in the specifications of terrestrial audio receivers in the Arab region. These specifications pertain to all types of receivers, including home receivers, portable receivers and in-car mobile receivers. This specification also applies to all producers, manufacturers, importers and retailers who wish to sell audio receivers and all other products with integrated audio receivers in the Arab region.

It called on all parties involved in the Arab region to integrate it into the specifications of receivers as of 1/1/2020. ASBU has adopted a standardized standard for radio receivers in the Arab region (ETSI TS 103 461) in addition to the following specifications:

  •  Display the ASBU Profile according to the ETSI TS 103 176 V2.2.1 standard on all DAB + receivers
  • Provide AM / FM reception for the requirements in Annex 2 of the Technical Document

It should be noted that many manufacturers have experimented with the introduction of the ASBU Profile. The preliminary results seem to be encouraging.

Support the development of DAB in the Arab region

ASBU supports the spread of DAB in the Arab region, which has been witnessing a remarkable development as shown in the figure below

ASBU organizes the 2019 the Shortwave Coordination Winter Conference in partnership with HFCC

ASBU continues its support for the short wave radio service in light of its many advantages in ensuring communication inside and outside a country's borders. The agreements stipulate the need to protect these services internationally in order to contribute to bringing people together. On another level, shortwave radio is of great importance in disaster situations. This has led such countries as Japan, Russia, India and others to maintain this service while coordinating frequency to avoid any interference between the frequencies used.

The conference, which was organized with great success by ASBU in cooperation with HFCC and ABU in Tunis, was attended by about 70 participants from 32 countries, including 9 Arab countries. The recommendations of the engineering committee were as follows:

  • Emphasize the importance of effective participation in regional coordination conferences in order to enjoy the greatest possible protection.
  • Emphasize the importance of good selection of program content to ensure the success and development of the short-waves service.

Study the arrangements for introducing the mobile TV service

The engineering seminars organized by ASBU follow up the important developments regarding E-MBMS: Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service on the fifth generation broadband communication networks (3GPP EnTV), while stressing the fact that this new system's economic model takes on board the TV public service feature.

The Arab Unified Bouquet to cover various regions of the world and the IP Bouquet

Today, 21 Arab satellite channels are part of the Arab Unified Global Bouquet. This project, implemented and supervised by ASBU and Arabsat, is one of the biggest joint Arab action success stories in the field of radio and television, in view of the great practical, technical, economic and strategic benefits it achieves for the satellite channels participating in the Bouquet and for the Arab viewer in the different areas covered by the Bouquet worldwide.

At present, the biggest challenge for our member corporations is to migrate from SDTV to HDTV. As a matter of fact, the results of the questionnaire we carried out with our member corporations indicate that most countries have already prepared this migration to HDTV production and that the main effort of the corporations currently is to complete the final stage for HDTV broadcasting.

The Directorate-General, in cooperation with Arabsat, has contacted Globcast and achieved competitive prices that keep the current cost while the capacity has increased by 100%. This is an important incentive for the member corporations to make the appropriate decision despite having set the budget expenditure.

The Arab Unified Bouquet currently consists of 21 Arab satellite channels:

Emirates Media Inc. (Abu Dhabi TV and Radio) Bouquets 1 & 2
Saudi TV and Radio (Channel 1) Bouquets 1 & 2
Saudi TV (Channel 2) Bouquet 1
Holy Quran channel / KSA Bouquet 1
Sunnah Channel/ KSA Bouquet 1
Sports Channel/KSA Bouquet 1
General Organization of Radio and TV- Syria Bouquets 1 & 2
Sultanate of Oman TV Bouquets 1 & 2
Radio & TV General Corporation- Suda Bouquet 1
Qatar Media Corporation Bouquet 1
Libya Bouquet 1
Sharjah Satellite TV Bouquet 1
Al-Iraqiya Satellite Channel Two satellites only: North America and South America
Al-Iraqiya Satellite Channel North America, South America, Australia
Jordan TV North America only
Al-jazeera News Channel Basic Bouquet II
Kuwait TV Asia, Africa and Australia
Syrian Drama North America and South America
Palestine North America
Aldawri wal Kass North America
South Sudan TV North America & Africa

In terms of IPTV broadcasting, the network continues, through its website (www.glarab.com) to provide high-throughput services of up to 1.2 Mbps and up to 750 kbps with MPEG-4 encoding, as well as provide low throughput at 128 kilowatts. Annual viewing rates were 2.258,000 hours, distributed according to the following regions:

  • USA & Canada 56%
  • Europe 31%
  • Australia9%
  • Asia2%
  • Rest of the World2%