Al-Qarra Makes News in Africa with Avid
Making its debut in the nascent world of Arabic broadcasting is Al-Qarra, a TV channel that disseminates African news from an Arabic perspective. Meaning “the continent,” Al-Qarra is headquartered in Paris, France and covers the full gamut of political, economic and cultural life in Northern Africa.
High quality at a reasonable price
Launched in May 2010, the project was created to fill a void in the creation and delivery of Arabic news content focused specifically on Africa. Though the relationship between the Arab Middle East and Africa has grown over the years, they had virtually no media coverage.
Stepping in to fill that gap were veteran news producers Selven Naidu (former head of Mauritian TV), Pierre Fauque, and Najib Gouiaa. Today, they broadcast from Paris on two channels: one in French, the other in Arabic, and plan to introduce a third in English shortly.
At the start, they needed a professional news production solution that could deliver high-quality content at a reasonable price point. While a number of options were initially considered, Al-Qarra staff elected to go with Avid NewsVision. It provided the Avid workflow and NewsCutter editing capabilities with which they were already familiar, along with the necessary services and support to get them up and running quickly.
Today, the station goes to air in one-hour installments on a 24/7 basis, with a full complement of solutions crafted expressly for its operation, including Newscutter and Media Composer editors, Avid Motion Graphics, Avid ISIS shared storage, Airspeed video server and Fastbreak automation.
For the 50 staff members who work at Al-Qarra, this panoply of solutions serves as an integrated environment that is easy to understand and work with. It lets the station effectively manage its database and create high-quality content with the speed and accuracy necessary to maintain and expand the presence of Al-Qarra throughout the north African territory.
Providing an authentic perspective
“We provide information about what’s happening across the continent,” says Pierre Fauque, “without political or religious influence. The first part of the program is economic analysis. After that, we concentrate on top stories, delivering press reports on the most significant events taking place throughout Africa.”
Supporting that mission, Al-Qarra targets Arab-speakers in Maghreb, the Sub-Saharan region and East Africa with an international team of journalists and correspondents. One of its most distinguished programs is ITW, a hosted show featuring influential people on the continent aimed at providing a more authentic and edifying perspective on African news.
At the start, the channel employed four Media Composer editing stations and a Unity storage system. But as more programs went to air, the need for more storage capacity, asset management, and archive management capabilities grew, prompting the acquisition of NewsVision and the follow-on solutions that came later.
Living up to everyone’s expectations
Avid has lived up to everyone’s expectations. For example, the solution set Al Qarra currently uses facilitates fluid movement of media without transcoding, making it easier to transfer files. Previously, this was a complicated process requiring editors to manually transport files to QuickTime, then export them. Now, those files can play during transfer, which speeds the workflow considerably.
“I’ll admit, we struggled with pricing in the beginning,” says Najib Gouiaa, “but the affordable bundled solution made the cost more palatable. What we wanted was a bundled solution that, once installed, was ready to go, and one organization that would bear the total responsibility for making that happen.”
Avid and the Paris-based reseller Cap Ciné, working as a key partner in the project, developed an enduring relationship with the Al-Qarra leadership team to provide just that. As a result, all three founding producers have gained a strong sense of confidence about Avid, the quality of its solutions, and its servicing and support capabilities.
Avid has clearly shown that it will not only stand behind the quality and reliability of its products, but diagnose and solve technical problems quickly and efficiently when they arise. As Najib Gouiaa says, “with Avid, we made an investment in quality, and when you work with all of the tools, you know why.”
Solution of preference in France
Particularly telling is Najib Gouiaa's report that editors in France consistently register a strong preference for Avid. Only the smaller companies employ solutions developed by Avid competitors, he says, because once an organization grows in size and complexity, it needs a more comprehensive, holistic environment that encompasses the full gamut of creative tools, media management, and connectivity.
Summing up his experience working in this type of broadcast environment, Najib Gouiaa says, “I’ve known Avid for many years. There is a way Avid constructs its products that just makes it impossible to go with any other company.”
Establish a new channel to provide coverage of political, economic, and cultural life in the previously unserved region of Northern Africa.
Employ a full range of Avid creative, media management, and connectivity solutions to meet the needs of the channel both now and as it continues to grow in size and complexity