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Under Wraps

Tom Butts is the Editor in Chief of TV Technology.

“Watch this Space” is a common and well worn phrase often used by PR teams or advertisers as a way to keep your interest piqued. It hints at better and more exciting developments in the future. It’s also probably one of the most popular quotes from NAB exhibitors in advance of this year’s show.

In a connected world, it’s harder these days to build suspense around product launches, (just ask Apple, which has perfected the art). And so it is with the annual NAB Show. And yet, more and more of the larger players in our industry are opting to hold their best news until opening day, in order to get the most bang for the buck. Never mind that a dozen of their competitors are also planning the same thing, thereby risking the notion that all that exciting news will get lost in the blizzard of press releases that clog our e-mail boxes as soon as the show floor opens on April 11.

Cameras are among the glamour products of the NAB Show and usually take center stage at the press conferences. And yet this year, as has been the case for several years now, most of the major camera manufacturers are playing their cards close to the vest, and only hinting at what’s to come in Las Vegas.

The reasons why some companies wait to disclose their most important news until the show are varied—some are just not ready, while still others fear that they will be “one-upped” by their competition. It reminds me of the case several years ago when one professional lens company unveiled their 100x lens at the show, only to be followed shortly (in the same week) by their competition who decided to one better them by releasing a 101x lens. Product development timelines being what they are, this was probably not one upsmanship, but it did illustrate the lengths to which exhibitors guard their trade secrets.

It’s a game that we in the trade press know all too well. Nevertheless it behooves new and veteran NAB attendees alike to meticulously plan their strategies well in advance to take advantage of every minute on the show floor. That’s why, once again, our crack team of reporters and editors has assembled the most comprehensive new product coverage available anywhere, from cameras to audio, signal processing and beyond. We even added a new 3D category this year—despite what many think of the current state of the format, a wide range of new 3D processing and acquisition gear will be spotlighted by both niche and major manufacturers. If the availability of content is the driving force behind its adoption, then this NAB Show will serve as a proving ground for the format.

And “watch this space” for much more NAB preview news in the next few weeks.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) would merge with the National Association of Broadcasters. For over five decades, MSTV (which started out in 1956 as the National Association of Telecasters), served as the technical voice for broadcasters on Capitol Hill and was an influential hand in everything from the All Channel Receiver Act to the DTV transition to the FCC’s recent efforts to open up white spaces for unlicensed devices. MSTV has partnered with the NAB over the years to provide a coordinated defense of the industry and they deserve our appreciation and respect for a job well done. As the broadcast industry faces down its most current—and possibly biggest threat—with the FCC’s efforts to reclaim portions of the spectrum for its National Broadband Plan, it’s more important than ever for the industry to speak with one voice, particularly on technical issues. This merger, in the words of NAB President Gordon Smith, will “complement the NAB Board’s strategic direction to elevate technology issues within the organization.”

Thank you for your guidance and advocacy, MSTV.