Broadcasters should stick to program making

Red faces at the BBC as John Linwood, the BBC's chief technology officer, is suspended following the scrapping of their in-house project to develop a file-based production platform. 

The project had a troubled history, being handed on a plate to Siemens, their technology outsourcing provider. In 2009 the BBC took control of a project going nowhere and brought it back in house. Since then, government auditors investigated and found many shortcomings in the way the project was operated.

Ask the taxpayers, who provide the very generous funding for this sprawling behemoth, whether they want good programs or the broadcaster to build technology and I can guess the answer?

There are many very capable technology experts and suppliers who can deliver working file-based production platforms, one only has to look at the recent project by Triskel at Bloomberg TV to install a global content production platform based on SOA principles and strongly linked with the AMWA/EBU FIMS project.

The BBC should focus on program production and leave technology to the experts, as this debacle has amply demonstrated.

Many broadcasters tinker with technology, and dates back sixty years and more, when you couldn’t buy broadcasting technology, you had to make it. But in the intervening years any number of companies have come in to the equipment supply sector. RCA, Ampex, EMI, Philips, Bosch, Marconi in the early days, and now there are 1500 exhibitors at NAB. It is verging on the arrogant to believe you can build it better in house than go to the market. And if you can build it better in house, you have too many engineering resources for a program maker.