Digital revolution must be televised

The introduction of new high definition (HD) television receivers in the Middle East marks a major milestone for the local consumer electronics industry.

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By  Aaron Greenwood Published  September 21, 2006

|~||~||~|The introduction of new high definition (HD) television receivers in the Middle East marks a major milestone for the local consumer electronics industry. With Sony, Panasonic and Sharp all jumping aboard the HD bandwagon, the time has come for the local broadcast industry and associated content providers to accelerate the roll-out of HDTV services. HD is a revolutionary broadcasting technology that has proven hugely successful in capturing consumer interest in the adoption markets of the United States, Australia and Japan. While the technology guarantees incredible image quality and Dolby 5.1 surround sound for consumers, it also offers huge commercial potential for the key players in the consumer electronics channel. HD has played a major role in driving flat panel TV sales in Western countries, with many consumers purchasing LCD and plasma TVs in anticipation of a rapid introduction of HDTV services in their respective markets. Demand for HD content has also spawned the development of HD DVDs and Blu-ray players, the introduction of which are sure to provide massive commercial gains for vendors, distributors and retailers. However, the wholesale introduction of HDTV services remains the lynchpin in the digital revolution. Middle East satellite broadcasters have been slow to rise to the challenge, citing prohibitive development costs and ageing infrastructure for the delay in establishing HD services. Yet, in Europe, where HDTV broadcasting services are very much in their infancy and broadcasters are shackled by huge development costs, a number of pay TV satellite service providers have established hugely popular premium subscription HD broadcasting channels that have provided significant commercial gains. With local consumers keen to embrace the latest technological innovations, it would only take one Middle East-based broadcaster to develop a similar service to force the tipping point in the development of wholesale HDTV services. The local consumer electronics industry can also play a meaningful role in this process. As a senior representative of Sharp recently commented to ECN, the consumer electronics industry must work with broadcasters and government officials to accelerate the introduction of HDTV services in the Middle East. Only then will the true commercial potential of digital technology be realised by each stakeholder in the consumer electronics channel. ||**||

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