Mobile satellite communications crucial for media houses: study

Media houses rely heavily on mobile satellite communications to enhance their business performance and international competitiveness, according to Inmarsat.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  June 9, 2004

Media houses rely heavily on mobile satellite communications to enhance their business performance and international competitiveness, according to a report published by Inmarsat. The report, which is based on an opinion survey conducted among print organisations and regional satellite TV channels, was released at the Arab Telecom and Internet Forum (ATIF) in Doha. “The changing media landscape has put increased pressure on media organisations, particularly broadcast houses, to deliver the news as it happens,” said Samer Halawi, regional director, Inmarsat Middle East and Africa. “The challenge today is to get pictures, voice, and articles out, fast and accurately, from wherever the news is breaking, be it a city under siege or a community in crisis. And with the world’s eyes focused on our region, a high proportion of news is made up of Middle East content,” he added. The objective of the survey, according to Halawi, was to identify the role of regional media in the delivery of such content and how innovative technology could possibly help them compete against international players. The survey report stated that an overwhelming majority of respondents believed that mobile satellite communications enabled them to file stories before their competitors, thereby increasing their competitive advantage. Inmarsat itself has been popular for its Regional Broadband Global Area Network (Regional BGAN), which allows media to transfer up to the minute information from remote locations. Inmarsat’s GAN (Global Area Network) also enables media organisations to deliver news, live, at the forefront, in areas of high public interest. When television viewers see ‘via videophone’ on a correspondent’s live report, the station is using Inmarsat GAN to transmit from the field, the company claims. This means that voice, text and video can be transmitted from mobile satellite units about the size of a PC that can travel as hand luggage, increasing the media’s ability to get to the news as the stories are breaking, regardless of location. And because both services are on demand, as opposed to pre-booked, media people have the flexibility they need to report the news as it happens. The opinion survey also revealed how a combination of strong regional presence and immediate access to news has allowed regional broadcasters to compete on the global arena. Five years ago, Abu Dhabi TV (ADTV) considered its competitors to be local and regional players. But now, Abdel Majid Othman Mohammed, technical director of ADTV says its competition has changed significantly over the last few years. “In fact, during the Iraq war we were used as a resource by international players such as CNN and BBC,” he said. Likewise, Al Jazeera also uses mobile satellite communications technology from Inmarsat. “The media’s investment in mobile satellite communications technology has resulted in the delivery of news coverage direct from the front line, from regional players with in-depth understanding of the Middle East. On the whole, this contributes to a more accurate world view of the Middle East,” explained Halawi.

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