Why is it that with youview at near full capacity we have a new channel in a language that we can't

johnnyshankjohnnyshank Member Posts: 83 ✭✭
edited 24 November 2016, 12:00PM in Archived Posts


  • Lbear1Lbear1 Member Posts: 741
    edited 17 January 2014, 8:55PM
    I presume you are referring to Al Jazeera Arabic on LCN 84. This, despite being in sub-SD quality, is being broadcast on the DVB-T2 Mux 7 so not everybody will receive it, only those served by main transmitters. Those areas are most likely to have Arabic speakers.

    So far only BBC FourHD/CbeebiesHD, BBC News and Al Jazeera English HD were on Mux 7. This leaves room for a further HD channel and one or possibly two SD channels. So far there are no more HD channels have been announced although Channel 4 are likely to launch two. With Mux 8 completely free at the moment, there is currently room for a further 6 HD channels and 1 SD channel. That mix of course could change if more broadcasters wanted to launch SD channels. These two temporary DVB-T2 muxes are commercial ones and space is being sold on a first come first served basis.

    The 2011 census showed around 240,000 British Arabs although including second generation this is estimated to be nearer 500,000; around half of who live in London which is served by Muxes 7 and 8.  A (rather old) survey showed most regard AJ as their most trusted news source (see wiki for British Arabs)

    Obviously Al Jazeera thought it commercially viable to launch their Arabic service on DTT in the UK especially as the limited coverage and low bandwidth means it is comparatively cheaper to launch on a DVB-T2 mux than on a DVB-T commercial mux.
  • Peskdale61Peskdale61 Member Posts: 91
    edited 18 January 2014, 5:52AM
    To add to what Peter has said, and to clarify a misunderstanding, the DTT channels available over the air are nothing to do with YouView itself. YouView is just a platform which can receiev such transmissions.

    While DTT is at near full capacity, I certainly welcome the channel to the platform. It's a first-come, first-served business, and the fact of the matter is no-one else wants or is waiting to launch. They can't just keep spaces on the offchance that one day a so-called 'good' channel will launch.

    ('Good' is a complete matter of opinion, which differs drastically depending on who you ask. I for one welcome ANY channel to the platform with open arms, whereas others despise +1 and minority channels which supposedly waste space - despite the fact that as stated prior, there is no queue of channels waiting.)
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 17 January 2014, 8:51PM
    Whenever I've tuned into Al Jazeera it's been broadcasting in English.
  • Peskdale61Peskdale61 Member Posts: 91
    edited 17 January 2014, 8:43PM
    plaxy said:

    Whenever I've tuned into Al Jazeera it's been broadcasting in English.

    That's Al Jazeera English on channel 83 (108 HD). Al Jazeera Arabic launched on channel 84 this week.
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 17 January 2014, 8:51PM
    plaxy said:

    Whenever I've tuned into Al Jazeera it's been broadcasting in English.

    Ah - didn't realize.

    So the OP can watch it on 83 or 108, and Arabic-speakers can watch it on 84. That seems equitable.
  • Lbear1Lbear1 Member Posts: 741
    edited 18 January 2014, 1:21PM
    I'll add a bit about "why" and then go on to two reasons why this development is extremely welcome.

    First, why should Al Jazeera have considered it worthwhile to launch this channel. This from their Acting Director General :
    Dr Mostefa Souag, Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network said: “As the major Arabic language outlet broadcasting various perspectives on current events from the Arab world, we are delighted to be able to reach more viewers in the UK through Freeview. We believe that there is a growing demand by audiences that understand Arabic in the UK for in-depth analysis and reporting, which we have bringing to our viewers for the past 17 years. The inclusion of Al Jazeera Arabic on Freeview has doubled its access to viewers in the UK market, which is a necessary step forward for our global presence.”

    It's worthwhile looking at how Arabic speakers have been able to access this before. Currently in addition to DVB-T2, it is available on Virginmedia and via two satellite clusters. Some IPTV providers also supply it as part of their packages. Like the cable channel, one of the satellites, Es' hailsat only started working last year. Es' hailsat is another Qatari company and its satellite, Eshail 1 is at 26E. That is close to the main UK broadcasters' Astra satellite cluster at 28.2E although it's quite likely that the separation would need some albeit minor additions to a "Sky" dish.

    Prior to those launches, it was available from the Nilesat cluster at 7W. Reception would have required a larger separate or moveable satellite dish - a fairly major cost with planning complications. Nilesat carries a number of Arabic channels of course and some of these may well not have the standards of journalism and balance that Al Jazeera provides. (Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster you may remember was banned from broadcasting in the UK by OfCom because of some fairly outrageous lies.) So a minor subsidiary advantage of people using Freeview could be argued to be that there is less risk of exposure to these channels for those who might be radicalized by them. No doubt reassuring if you have been exposed to the right wing "Arab" = "Terrorist" themes.

    It's greatest significance however is the model it gives for the development of the DTT platform. Minority channels have two ways of launching cheaply in the UK but having a fairly wide audience. Previously they could arrange to be delivered by IPTV. With Freeview HD, the MHEG-IC IPTV channels are accessed through "portals" on LCN 255 up. With compatible equipment, a "channel" consists of a few instructions on which web site should be accessed and often a menu appears, a bit like the iPlayer, showing which broadcast channels the company offers. Central China TV's has several channels accessed via one "Freeview" channel this way.

    This has two major disadvantages. The first of course is the matter of the speed and cost of connecting. The second much bigger is the matter of compatibility since Freeview HD equipment tested before April 2011 did not have to include MHEG-IC and YouView uses a different protocol which is incompatible (Vague comments have come out to the effect that Arqiva, one of the YV partners which purchased one of those portal companies last year, have expressed the hope that their IPTV channels can be accessed using a YV box in future. To do that either YV's boxes would have to be MHEG-IC compatible or Arqiva could introduce a YV compatible option to their site.)

    AJArabic is a new second way. Like the other COM muxes only available from main transmitters, COM7 is operated by Arqiva on a commercial basis so it is in their interests to have it "full" as soon as possible. It is also important for viewers as COM8 will only be rolled out when (and presumably if) the extra capacity is needed.

    In addition, it is a quite clever move to increase the take up of HD equipment. Since the start of HD we have been stuck more or less with simulcasts of existing SD channels. If you think about it, Freeview was originally sold as being able to give you more and different channels compared to the old analogue PSB channels. Although it varies by room size and viewing distance, generally 32in is considered the smallest screen size to make the visible difference between SD and HD worthwhile, which is partly why you will not see many smaller screened TVs in the shops with DVB-T2 or "Freeview HD" tuners. As an example, on the Argos site; of the 66 sets with screens of 32in and under, only 18 were shown as including Freeview HD on the summary page and just four of those were under 32in.

    AJArabic is the first linear broadcast channel only available using DVB-T2 in the UK as a whole although in Northern Ireland, a limited SD only version of some of the Republic's Saorview channels has been available on the DVB-T2 NImux. That (and Freeview HD/YouView's compatibility with the Saorview transmissions direct from the Republic) meant that there was a faster uptake of HD boxes and sets in Northern Ireland that in the rest of the UK. AJArabic is therefore similarly likely to increase the takeup of HD equipment in the rest of the UK through its appeal to a niche market not served in SD.

    So in general, further SD channels only available on the "HD" muxes is a good thing as it provides the additional "unique selling point" that means more sales of DVB-T2 equipment. Of course they need not be minority language channels (although S4C outside of Wales would look like an interesting possibility as would an Urdu film channel or something along the lines of BBC radio's Asian Network) but other niche markets are opened up by it. I can envisage that channels devoted to video gaming (as in S. Korea) or pets might well appeal to audiences at least large enough to make them commercially viable. While the thought of shows following RSPCA rescuers ("Cat in the Attic"?) or owners' discussion shows ("Dog Morning"?) might seem bizarre, there have been fairly successful afternoon shows featuring pets on mainstream channels.

    Ultimately a higher penetration of DVB-T2 equipment faster means the second stage of Digital Switchover can start sooner. A DVB-T2 only regime (perhaps leaving a DVB-T "legacy mux" for the five PSB channels plus radio at least initially) would increase capacity and at least make up for any losses of available DTT frequencies if more parts of the spectrum are sold off for 5G telecoms. It would also mean no more complaints from people who want to renumber LCNs 101 to 104 as 1 to 4 on their boxes!
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