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The Bench's Media Broadcasting Glossary



The media industry is awash with rather confusing terminology, acronyms and abbreviations so here is a quick glossary of the key terms used:


3D” is a nice easy one to start with and obviously means three-dimensional broadcast, which makes many of us feel ill just thinking about watching it.

A La Carte” means a subscription to a channel on a stand-alone basis rather than as part of a tier or package subscription.

Analogue” means the old-school broadcast method of using analog signals (whether by way of radio, satellite or cable), which suffered from noise and distortion. In 2011, the UAE TRA put in place a UAE Digital TV Switchover Plan which assessed that only 3% of UAE TV households relied solely on analogue TV. Analogue terrestrial TV transmissions were subsequently phased out in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE on 13 February 2012.

Broadcast” any transmission of audio visual media content for viewing on your TV, mobile phone, tablet etc.

Cable” means a cable TV service such as the du or Etisalat wires coming into your home.

Catch-Up TV” generally means when a broadcast is replayed a few hours or days later.

Channels” is a fairly obvious one – TV channels such as BBC World, Dubai One, Cartoon Network etc. which can be broadcast via a variety of methods.

Closed Circuit TV” means a TV system that isn’t available to the general public e.g. in press offices, in-venue bars, restaurants and hospitality suites.

“Digital TV” or “DTV” means distribution via digital means which is most of the TV broadcast in the UAE now. The exact technology varies from country to country but the UAE opted for DVB-T2 with MPEG-4.

“DTH” means direct to home broadcast e.g. direct from a satellite to your OSN satellite dish rather than say receiving OSN or beIN channels via your cable provider du or Etisalat.

Free to Air” means broadcasts that you don’t need to pay a subscription for such as Dubai One, MBC4, MBC Action, Dubai TV, Abu Dhabi TV etc.

HD” means high definition essentially a really good picture or a resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels for full HD.

Hybrid TV” means combining traditional broadcast such as cable or satellite with an OTT service;

Interactive or Enhanced TV” means the ability to interact with a broadcast e.g. press the red button on your controller to get more information on a particular show/teams, access different viewing options and/or take part in games or competitions relating to the broadcast.

IPTV” means Internet Protocol television which includes watching TV on your computer via the internet but can, rather confusingly, also include watching via your STB to the extent it is connected to the internet.

Live” – no points for guessing this one – it’s a broadcast that is live and simultaneous with the relevant event – normally sports matches.

Mobile TV” means watching TV on your mobile phone.

NMC” the National Media Council, responsible for media content regulation in the UAE.

NVOD” means Near Video On Demand where you can watch a video which starts on a regular basis (e.g. every 30 mins) over a number of channels.

OTT” means an over-the-top streaming service that you can receive directly via the internet such as Starzplay, Netflix, Apple TV+ (Iflix until it exited the region in July 2019) etc. These OTT players have also signed partnerships with traditional cable and satellite providers so that you can access their channels via your normal cable or satellite e.g. the OSN partnership with Netflix in Feb 2018 https://www.techradar.com/nz/news/netflix-signs-up-with-osn.

Pay Per Period” means where you pay to watch a video/show within a certain period. This is common on Apple+ where you can rent a movie to watch over a 48 hour period.

Pay Per View” means exactly that – you pay to watch one particular broadcast – common for the big boxing or UFC matches.

PC TV” means watching TV on your laptop or home desktop computer.

STB” means set top-box or your OSN/du/Etisalat box by the TV which enables you to receive the broadcast (whether by way of cable or satellite)

Satellite” means service by way of satellite feed i.e. think the big dish on the outside of your house.

Spillage” doesn’t involve popcorn whilst watching TV, it’s a technical term relating to a satellite feed being wider than the licensed territory e.g. someone in Oman being able to receive a signal for a channel which is only licensed in the UAE.

TRA” means the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, responsible for regulation of communications and the internet in the UAE.

Terrestrial” – think the opposite of E.T. (the Extra-Terrestrial flying his bike home). This means Earth based broadcast via radio waves (rather than via cable or satellite) e.g. for us oldies that can remember back to moving around an antenna on top of a large boxy TV to try and find a half decent signal. Terrestrial TV can either be analogue or digital but as mentioned above most of GCC moved to digital terrestrial TV in 2012.

Subscriber” means the person who signed the contract and pays the bills.

UHD” means ultra-high definition, essentially an awesome picture or a resolution with an aspect of 16:9 and a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels and also referred to as 4K or 8k. OSN launched 4K in 2017.

VOD” means video on demand e.g. watching Netflix TV series or movies whenever you want.


The Bench has a market-leading Media & Entertainment team (the only one in the GCC recommended by Who’s Who Legal Media & Entertainment 2019) and advises on the full range of media issues including creation, licensing, acquisition and regulation. If you would like to know further information please contact your normal The Bench contact or joby@thebenchlaw.com.

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