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ABU forum looks at broadcasters and the digital giants

An ABU online forum has looked at how broadcasters are working with global service providers – and some of the benefits and challenges this brings.

Titled ‘The Digital Giants: Friend or Foe to Broadcast Media?’, the forum highlighted the complex nature of the relationship. Three representatives of major broadcasters gave widely differing answers: “Friend. We don’t see ourselves are having foes.” “Not a friend – yet.” “Frenemy – part friend, part enemy.”

Moderated by the ABU’s Steve Ahern, the two-hour forum brought together Michael Carrington of ABC-Australia, Takehiko Kusaba of NHK-Japan, Riyaad Minty of TRT-Turkey and Suranga Jayalath of MBC/MTV-Sri Lanka.

They agreed that while making their content available to global giants like Netflix brought in valuable revenue and meant a wider reach for their content, there was a corresponding loss of attribution and difficulty in obtaining data on their programmes.

There was concern, too, about how the entry of the global giants into local markets, with their huge budgets, was pushing up production costs for national broadcasters – a big challenge for those with limited funding.

Another worry was the failure in some countries of the regulatory framework for video streaming services to keep pace with the rapid changes in the broadcasting industry. Better copyright protection was needed. Piracy too remained a problem.

The forum also looked at whether making their programmes available on YouTube instead of signing deals with the global giants was a viable option for broadcasters.

Despite a recognition that digital streaming is the way of the future, especially among younger viewers, panellists said terrestrial television remained essential and they were not ready to turn off their TV transmitters any time soon.