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ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium hits a high note with Industry Debate

More than 1,200 people visited this year’s ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium in Malaysia, one of the premier events for the television and radio industry in the Asia-Pacific.

One of the final sessions of the four-day DBS 2014 conference and workshops centred on the Industry Debate entitled Embracing Technological Innovations: What can we achieve in the next three years?

It attracted expert speakers and audiences contributors from across Asia and around the world. 

One of the experts was Mr Charles Sevior, Chief Technology Officer at EMC Isilon. He felt the three most fundamental changes to businesses would be people, processes and platforms.

“People is Number One,” he said. “Many of the people we’re attracting now are from IT backgrounds and we need to merge those skills and teach the IT guys about broadcasting and that you can’t do a virus scan in the middle of a live broadcast. Broadcast operations staff need to understand platforms, security and the importance of those new platforms.”

He said processes were changing from linear, people-based operations to software-based, multilayered operations for improved efficiency. And platforms were very much moving to IP domains, at their core being application-based to run on virtual machines.

Mr Chris Grey, General Manager for Sony Hong Kong ,agreed on the move to IP and the need to skill staff. He also said satellite distribution and the new 4K standard were the ways forward in the next three years.

Ms Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia and Vice-President of WordDMB Asia Pacific made a case for governments and consumers supporting broadcast radio and said she saw a way forward through installing broadcast chips in mobile phones.

Mr Lindsay Cornell, Principal Systems Architect at the BBC, said it was important to “make life liveable for consumers” with all the new platforms being offered. He said they had to use so many different and complicated formats and platforms for sound and vision.

“We have to be mindful of the consumer experience and how to make it better for everyone,” he said. “Those technologies should make lives easier and better but they’re so complicated sometimes that people don’t even start to engage.”

He also urged the broadcasting industry around the world to speak with unified voices, especially on issues such as spectrum management.

Simon Fell, Director of Technology & Innovation at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), said the digital radio industry needed to work on getting into cars and mobile phones. He also spoke on developments in ultra-high definition television, 4K production and embracing the IP change.

“Deliver great catch-up services and associate it with your platform – satellite or terrestrial -and then defend that spectrum so people don’t lose faith in your platforms,” he said.

Mr Phil Laven, Chairman of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project, said the real test of new digital technologies was whether or not broadcasters were able to turn off analogue.

“What we need to do in those countries that do not have analogue switch-off [dates] yet is get them to give us a deadline and work with them to achieve it.

“I suggest the theme for the next symposium to be ‘goodbye analogue’,” he said. “I challenge all of us to have a panel next year about analogue switch-off and force people to tell us when it will happen and how.”