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cover story_cover story 25/02/2016 18:37 Page 1 New satellites, new channels, and plenty of new opportunities: The political problems in the region are seemingly never-ending, but TV steams ahead, with extra creativity, fresh entertainment and growth firmly in mind, reports Chris Forrester. arely two years ago, a new satellite service, YahLive, was struggling to fill its capacity. The rationale at the time was that the satellite would be used to deliver an all-HDTV platform to viewers across the MENA region. It was not successful. But today, following an October 2015 re-launch, the satellite has found an enthusiastic audience in Farsi and Kurdish-speaking audiences in the wider region. YahLive, itself a joint-venture between Abu Dhabi-based YahSat (Al Yah Satellite) and Luxembourg’s SES, had launched in 2011 and despite all manner of incentives – and an eventual change of CEO – a change of direction was badly needed. YahLive operates from 52.5° East, and well away from the MENA’s two wellestablished ‘hot spot’s’ operated by Nilesat and Arabsat. At the time of writing, the project’s success is abundantly clear: Some 210 channels are now on air. A recent batch of 43 channels was launched targeting the Maghreb region (in conjunction with the Sahli Media Group), and in particular focusing on Algeria. EXPANSION. CEO Sami Boustany happily says that the satellite is now more or less full, and expansion is on the cards. “Remember we have three beams including the European beam and the satellite is wonderfully cross-connected across all of the payloads. Right now we are close to maximum capacity and a very high fill-rate. B 16 EUROMEDIA our growth strategy, and meet clients’ demand,” adds Boustany. This sort of fresh thinking is common right across the MENA region, where – by any measure – the broadcasting scene is improving, and Boustany is intending to seek out these new markets. Of course, he is not alone. GUARANTEED. Not a million miles from Abu Dhabi is Qatar’s Es’HailSat and its CEO Ali Al Kuwari also has additional hardware going into space for what he sees as guaranteed expansion. Al Kuwari says that his Es’hail-2, currently being manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Company (MELCO) in Japan, cleared its Critical Design Review (CDR) in August 2015. “Passing the CDR validated that Es’hail-2 will meet our requirements and perform as expected for “We are close to maximum capacity and a very high fill-rate.” - Sami Boustany, YahLive We already have an agreement in place with one of our parent partners, SES, for additional capacity at the orbital slot (see box). Monaco-Sat gives us a collaboration deal on capacity for our expansion plan.” “Monaco-Sat is at 52.5 East and so the same dishes can see our satellite and Monaco-Sat. This gives us redundancy, as well as expansion capacity. No satellite operator wants to be 100 per cent full. We all like having some expansion capacity and this we now have. It means we can continue