EBU urges European broadcasters to reach more platforms with less energy

At the turn of the month, at the European Broadcast Union (EBU) Production Technology Seminar in Geneva, European broadcasters will be urged to change their approach to production in order to reach a wider variety of platforms and, at the same time, cut energy consumption. The three-day seminar is designed to provide the 70 participants representing European broadcasters with the technical knowledge require to reconcile these conflicting goals and share experiences across all aspects of production. The headline themes of expanding reach and greenness will be covered in two keynotes, starting with Roberto Pomari, head of business development at RSI, the Italian speaking division of the Swiss public broadcaster. Pomari’s theme, how to become “tomorrow’s broadcaster,” will be based on RSI’s experience of moving to full HD production in the first months of this year, and developing a Service Oriented Architecture-based production platform as the next step in its digital evolution.

SOA emerged from the IT industry as a movement towards higher-level interoperability of services over the Internet, rather than specific interconnection of underlying IT components, such as software performing specific tasks. As broadcasting, particularly production and asset management, has become more IT oriented with its use of the IP protocol of the Internet, SOA, as it matures itself, has become increasingly relevant. As implemented by RSI and a growing number of broadcasters, it allows the asset management system to interconnect more readily with multiple delivery platforms run by third parties, and yet for them to remain in control of their workflows.

SOA, being developed and promoted by several groups including OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), now includes features of particular relevance for broadcasting, including real-time data transfer and synchronization. It also includes tools to allow underlying platforms, such as asset management, to be updated without having to change components that rely on it, which is essential for broadcasters and operators expanding to new delivery outlets. While SOA remains work in progress, more broadcasters, especially in Europe where the EBU has promoted it strongly, are now confident it represents the way forward, and see that it is becoming better focused. For a while, SOA looked in danger of being destroyed by the obscure hype of vendors promoting products that supposedly complied with it, and this led to the creation of the SOA Manifesto to align the movement with business rather than vendor needs, and replace jargon with clearer explanations.

At the EBU Production Technology Seminar, the discussion of RSI’s deployment of SOA will be relevant for the second keynote on greenness, since, in principle, it will remove the complexity and therefore energy cost of expanding onto multiple platforms. The keynote on greenness will feature the BBC’s new platform called Albert that calculates the energy cost in terms of carbon output of a particular production. Such calculations have proved elusive for broadcasters until now. However, Richard Smith, the BBC’s sustainable production manager, will explain how Albert is helping the broadcaster work towards a target of 20-percent reduction in energy consumption by 2013.

The Production Seminar will also cover tri-media and 3-D production, video compression interoperability and the latest developments in audio, metadata, and quality control in file-based production among other topics.