Saudi Arabia to get digital terrestrial TV network

Digital television over a terrestrial network is to be rolled out across Saudi Arabia beginning this year.
The news was announced to the closing session of the CabSat 2006 Broadcasting Conference in Dubai by Riyadh Najm, Assistant Deputy Minister for Engineering Affairs in the Ministry of Culture and Information.
This decision follows trials conducted in Riyadh during 2004/5. The roll out starts with five major cities, where it will be completed by June 2006.

The target is to cover a total of 22 cities by the end of February 2007, serving 70 percent of the population.

The single multiplex service will carry four TV channels with a mix of existing Saudi Arabian TV channels plus a new channel designed for the Saudi market.  The service will also carry four radio programmes. 

Responding to a question as to why the ministry had elected to begin digital TV over a terrestrial network, when the majority of home received satellite signals, Dr Najm reminded participants that the people of his country were quite conservative, and that this included their television viewing patterns.

Most of the population had not signed up for satellite services, despite the fact there was a wide range of programming available for free. The terrestrial network
was a most appropriate solution for bringing digital television to Saudi Arabia. 

He said set top boxes would not be subsidised and the introduction of interactive TV via the MHP standard platform would be a feature of the new service. The ministry would conduct a wide ranging promotion using all forms of media outlets to foster the uptake of the new service, Dr Najm said.

Source: ABU
Item added: 14th March 2006

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