The move is part of a larger phased plan to launch more bureaus across MENA and integrate a full-fledged social media strategy aimed at attracting more audiences from different age groups and geographies.
Dubai-headquartered news network CNBC Arabia is now on air with a complete HD setup as part of Phase 1 of a long list of plans that includes opening large studio facilities
in Qatar and Saudi Arabia; BroadcastPro ME can reveal.
Speaking exclusively to BroadcastPro ME, Mohamad Burhan, CEO of CNBC Arabia, said: “It’s part of a bigger vision as well as the new face of CNBC Arabia. We aim to have the latest in terms of technology and simultaneously undertake a horizontal expansion with more news gathering from the bureau offices. We also intend to localise our services better to meet the needs of our audience. As part of these plans, we will have a big studio in Doha and Saudi Arabia and intend to go live from there. They will also be built under the expert guidance of our newly appointed Director of Operations, Broadcast & Engineering, Shabbir Hussain.
In addition, CNBC Arabia will have a more detailed social media strategy. Burhan added that unlike most media houses trying to integrate linear content onto newer online platforms, CNBC Arabia’s social media content would be retailored for the broadcast screen. “We will reintegrate this for the big screen, and for now, they are serving as fillers but eventually, we hope to feature the best of the best segments,” he added.
Speaking about the news network’s technical strategy, Hussain stated: “The company’s vision is not just to move to HD, although that was a much-needed first step. We aim to go digital, and our websites and applications will be changed soon. Our Doha facility will be entirely IP based. We hope our Saudi facility will also be ready this year. Egypt will come after.”
The migration has not been without its challenges. With an old facility and limited space to create redundancy, the team struggled but successfully managed a smooth transition from SD to HD with no downtime. “We began this phase by installing Avid iNews, and our playout solutions were migrated to Pebble. We had to migrate or create a new TX so that a new operation area could be constructed, from where we could go live while the old system continued. We had only one CAR, so there was no space for a replacement, but it was well managed with the help of our systems integrator MGI,” Hussain added.
Some key technologies installed as part of the migration include Grass Valley cameras and switchers with the whole infrastructure from Evertz, IP audio from Lawo for the Qatar facility, Calrec for the Dubai facility, and a Riedel intercom system to connect all of CNBC Arabia’s bureaus with its Dubai headquarters. In addition, CNBC Arabia has opted for Vizrt graphics and will expand its archive with an Avid system.
“I am given to understand that we are the first facility in the region to use Avid for cloud editing, which is what the bureaus will use. Almost all our vendors supported us with the fastest delivery to meet our target date to go live. In addition, our Dubai facility will soon be equipped with a virtual studio. The infrastructure has already been wired,” Hussain concluded.