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Sports Broadcasting and the Economy Are Key Themes

The first two days of conference sessions include a chance to get an early glimpse at the BBC's plans for The 2012 Olympics – plus a number of sessions on how to beat the recession.

Major sporting events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, cycling's Tour de France and Grand Slam tennis tournaments demonstrate the power of using innovative technology and great content to engage with wider audiences and to enhance the overall viewing experience.

And one of the key themes of IBC 2009 is news and sports broadcasting with guest speakers including Arnaud Simon, broadcast director for Eurosport and Eurosport 2. To mark the channel's 20-year anniversary, Simon will deliver a keynote speech in the "Evolution of Sports Broadcasting" session on Thursday, 10 September.

According to Simon, it's a pivotal time in broadcasting for sport. "Sport on TV flourished in the 1970s, but we must make changes now if those same sports are still to be popular with a TV audience in 50 years."

"We must always ask, 'is the younger audience still enthralled?'" he continued. "Look at a traditional televised sport like tennis, for example. How many complete tennis matches have you watched over the last year. Will people still watch a five-hour tennis match in five years time?"

In the same session delegates will also get an early lowdown on the BBC's plans for the 2012 Olympics. Roger Mosey is set to discuss the potential of London 2012 being the first truly digital games. As the newly appointed BBC director of London 2012, Mosey is responsible for planning coverage of the Olympics across all genres and platforms, which also includes the Cultural Olympiad, major events in the build-up to the Games; and coordinating the BBC's activities locally, nationally and globally.

So, could 2012 be to digital in the United Kingdom what Queen Elizabeth the Second's Coronation was to TV?

At the very least, says Mosey, "Our audience will be able to personalise their Olympic experience as never before." Mosey will share his experiences and other thoughts in his keynote "The 2012 Olympics: Delivering an unforgettable sporting and cultural experience for audiences."

Back to the present, meanwhile, and reality bites with another key strand running through the IBC programme this year, which looks at how firms can survive the economic crisis. On 10 and 11 September the focus will be on how to stay afloat and even prosper, including a session called "The future of the industry: How to survive and prosper" chaired by Adrian Scott, founder and principal of The Bakewell House Consultancy.

The session will feature the reflections of some of the people who lead manufacturing and service companies including Jeff Rosica, senior vice president of Grass Valley, as well as senior figures from Omneon, Gravity Media and the Vitec Group. The speakers are set to recount their companies' experiences and tell delegates how they are planning for the recovery.

Scott says "While the reaction of many companies has been to cut costs, savagely in some cases, others are looking to invest in such areas as R&D, marketing — although not on the old traditional things,; more on 'the new marketing ... things like Web sites, e-mail and social networking — and the customer experience."

According to Scott, manufacturers are all trying to work out where broadcasters ("if that word is still applicable," he adds) are going.

"Equipped with affordable and astonishingly powerful devices, consumers have risen up off the couch and are demanding content in many forms, when and where they want it," he continued. "Traditional funding models may no longer be valid for many broadcasters, and that is demanding that both they and their suppliers address the task of business transformation with ever greater urgency."

Scott believes that the crisis is definitely accelerating the change process. "Adapt or die, is the watchword," he said. "We are seeing new alliances, new business models and new technologies all coming together, and out of what seems like chaos will come a new world. We may not know exactly what it looks like yet, but it is arriving fast."

Linked to this strand is a session on Friday, 11 September, "Inside Out: Are big customers ever going to buy product again?," as well as a conference keynote chaired by media commentator Ray Snoddy, which looks at "Growth opportunities in media and broadcasting."