MBC now digital

The Mauritius Broadcast Corporation (MBC) has completed a ten-year journey to a completely digital broadcasting environment. It will switch off analogue signals next year.   This puts it well ahead of most African nations and much of the world in the race to switch to digital broadcasting before the global 2015 target.

In partnership with Spescom Media IT, MBC has rolled out   phase two of its digitization project -   a USD3.5 million Avid Airspeed server for digital ingest and playout.

The state broadcaster now has a completely tapeless environment from acquisition to transmission.

Gopaul Suraj, Systems Administrator at MBC, says: Our technology optimisation strategy, initiated almost a decade ago, positions MBC to compete more effectively in a broadcasting arena where new technologies are lowering barriers to entry, increasing the quality and speed of content creation, and fast diluting adspend, a primary source of revenue for broadcasters.

Reaching this landmark target has required much innovation, refining and consistent application of our vision. The expansion of our business model and migration to world-class technology solutions has been essential in ensuring that we remain relevant and can continue to meet the growing demands of our viewers.

At the end of the '90s, the broadcaster adopted DVB-T for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services and launched 12 new digital channels.

With the flexibility offered by an all-digital broadcast environment, MBC could offer viewers more programme choice, Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) services, mobility, and enhanced video and sound quality. It did, however, require changing technology at the studio and transmission levels.

Suraj says: Digitisation has required a paradigm shift in work methodologies as the new technologies are integrated into the whole system - the programme making as well as airing chains. These are the new tools of the trade and we needed to harness them to remain competitive.

With the analogue switch-off date only next year, MBC is helping speed up the purchase of digital set-top boxes at an affordable rate, starting at USD30 each. The introduction of a range of new digital channels is spurring uptake, and 50% of Mauritian viewers now have digital set top boxes.

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