Automation, content management and integrated channel specialist Pebble has supplied its playout technology to help ensure the successful launch of Asharq News, the multiplatform economic and political news service. Announced last November 2020, an exclusive content agreement between Bloomberg Media and Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) powers a key component of the channel, Asharq Business with Bloomberg.
Asharq News is headquartered in Riyadh with central offices in Dubai International Financial Centre in UAE, and Washington in the US, and key hubs and studios in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. It also has regional offices and correspondents across key Arab countries and in major global cities, in addition to access to Bloomberg’s worldwide network. A winner of the prestigious BroadcastPro ME Innovative Project of the Year award as well the recipient of a recently announced nomination for the Excellence in Technical Installation and Supplier Innovation award in the esteemed Digital Studio ME Awards, it features many state-of-the-art broadcast components and is one of the first SMPTE 2110-compliant stations operating in the region.
At its heart is a complex transmission pipeline with a large number of inputs and outputs, and featuring approximately 80 ‘flows’ (video, audio, and ancillary data) per integrated channel device. 2110 inputs can come from any source — studio, camera or elsewhere — while outputs include the main programme output, dedicated outputs for YouTube (with and without graphics), clean outputs for monitoring, and more.
The system also features DVEs, native Pebble Integrated Channel graphics and 2110 Vizrt external graphics, NDI monitoring outputs, 2110 live Voice Over, SCTE signalling support, loudness processing, media recording and more. Multiple integrations were required and managed by the Pebble development team overseeing the installation, including VizRT, Avid MAM, Evertz and BTS.
“The flexibility of the SMPTE 2110 approach meant we could iterate rapidly and adapt the workflow to meet our needs,” said Omran Abdallah, engineering director at Asharq News. “We were already on air when subtitles were added to the chain within a day, ensuring no impact to our seamless on-air performance. In a traditional hardware implementation that would likely have taken weeks to achieve.”
All changes to the system installed at Asharq News can be undertaken via a single user interface, ensuring the channel has an agile set up that is both responsive to market needs and future-proofed.
“We are delighted to have supplied our playout solutions to Asharq News,” commented Samir Isbaih, Pebble. “This is an important installation for the Middle East and elsewhere as Asharq News’ integrations and features do far more than simply mirror SDI deployments in a much smaller footprint. They show the power and flexibility of IP-based workflows to continually iterate and bring agile flexibility to the continual evolution of broadcast channels that the market demands.”