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Europe forges ahead with integrated production

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has launched a strategic program to help members integrate production processes for distribution across multiple platforms in the emerging TV Everywhere world.

The objective is to reduce the costs and complexities associated with accessing content for networked production and delivery to diverse platforms, by providing relevant IT tools, as well as a recommended organizational and editorial framework. Called the Integrated Media Production Strategies (IMPS) program, the initial focus will be on news and sport, with the EBU at first seeking feedback from members over their requirements, including site visits and sharing of experiences. IMPS will then develop definitions and descriptions of typical elements, including production and playout platforms.

The group will be chaired by Herbert Tillmann, technical director of Bayerischer Rundfunk, which is the public broadcasting authority for the German state of Bavaria, headquartered in Munich.

The program was approved last week by the EBU’s Technical Committee meeting in Geneva, with an invitation issued to all EBU members to join. Specific aims are to tackle the organizational, editorial and technical questions involved in integrated production, and maintain dialogue among members, leading to a step-by-step introduction of the relevant IT tools.

The program may also incorporate feedback from an integrated broadcast project funded by the European Union under its Framework-6 Program of research, called Live Staging of Media Events (LIVE). This has a rather different focus on introducing interactivity and audience feedback into content production. This program resulted in a paper published by the IEEE in Sept. 2011, arguing that the LIVE TV broadcasting format could bring significant advantages over traditional methods. In particular, through real-time interaction with TV content production teams, viewers could not only participate in, but also influence and control the program. This would lead to a change in emphasis in production, with the traditional concept of TV content director being replaced by that of the TV content conductor overseeing and in a sense chairing the interaction process.

Live broadcast would become truly real-time, with content channeled into multiple broadcast streams, providing viewers with the ability to express their own preferences in watching TV programs on an ongoing basis. This would help usher in a new era of audience rating, introducing intelligent content and behavior analysis to improve quality of service.

The LIVE concept was tested under field trials at the 2008 Olympic Games, but now with further progress in transmission and interaction there is scope to bring the concept to market and incorporate greater levels of interactivity. This could go hand in hand with the deployment of integrated production in the wake of the IMPS project.