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Arqiva’s African adventure

22 February 2008

Arqiva has successfully supported GTV, Africa’s new digital pay-TV platform, in its plans to roll-out in multiple markets in Africa. GTV is designed to make premium international and local entertainment content more accessible to more Africans and has already exceeded expectations for its first six months and is well placed to hit target figures over its first year.

GTV’s success lies in the provision of family targeted content at an affordable price, including EPL, Italian Football League – Serie A, and many popular news and entertainment channels. Arqiva is providing GTV with a comprehensive product portfolio from system design to playout and content aggregation. Content from a variety of sources, including Sony, Time Warner and the African Movie Channel, undergoes basic editing, quality control, technical correction and normalisation at Arqiva’s Chalfont Grove studio facility in the UK. Transmission master tapes are created through the addition of metadata, including timecodes, tape IDs and programme IDs, to support customer scheduling requirements. Master tapes are ingested and digitised before being played out and digitally archived from the Chalfont Media Centre.

Arqiva was approached by GTV in May 2006 and has worked closely with key figures in GTV to determine a broad-based flexible solution to meet its emerging requirements. A multi-year contract was signed with Gateway Broadcast Services in March 2007. Following a pilot phase the full service went live on 28 May 2007 and GTV initiated its phased pan-Africa rollout with Kenya’s launch on 29 July 2007. GTV is now available in 12 African countries with new markets being added each month. The projected roll-out covers all sub-Saharan countries with the exception of Nigeria and South Africa.

Playout features enabled on GTV’s own channels, G Prime, G Sports 1 and G Sports 2, include advanced graphical overlay incorporating digital video squeeze-back effects and injection of remote data. International content is aggregated from various satellites and fibre backhauls including content substitution features for events to which GTV do not currently have the distribution rights.

For G Sports 1 & 2 Arqiva also provides a live event handling service which enables live interaction with studio-based material and raw live event contribution feeds. It also allows for the appropriate insertion of commercial breaks and manipulation of transmission schedules in realtime to compensate for the variable length of live events. All live events are recorded to the server, clipped to the correct length, given IDs and archived for repeat transmission. Arqiva also provides a fully managed co-location service for GTV’s multiplexes, conditional access and EPG head-end equipment, which is integrated into Arqiva’s Media Centre in the UK.

Julian McIntyre, founder and managing director of Gateway Broadcast Services, which provides the GTV service, said: “Arqiva has proved an ideal technology partner for our ground-breaking entry into the African market. Redefining pay TV in Africa from a luxury item to an accessible lifestyle choice is a tremendous undertaking, but Arqiva was able to fully appreciate our needs, pre-empt many of the complications and use its extensive experience, knowledge and technology to deliver an effective and robust platform from which to roll out GTV.”

John Bozza, director of sales at Arqiva’s Satellite Media Solutions division, said: “The integrated nature of Arqiva’s infrastructure, with teams working closely together to deliver a comprehensive end-to-end solution for the customer, was a great advantage on this project. Our experience in working on projects of this size and nature, coupled with our ownership of the very latest studio, co-location and playout facilities, enabled us to deliver GTV with a fully flexible solution which can expand with the growth of the platform.”

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