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New Media; New Opportunities

by Craig Johnston~ April 24, 2006


Broadcast stations are now using much more than a standard radio or television set to reach their audiences.

At WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., morning show co-anchor Barbara Harrison not only kept viewers up-to-date on her dieting success during "News4 Today" newscasts, but also shared information and insight via daily updates to her blog.

Similarly, WTOP(FM) reaches listeners in cubicles across the D.C. metro region via podcasts, making news headlines, on-air interviews and commentary and analysis available as an easy-to-download package.

And, within a year, experts predict television will be available over enabled cell phones.

Blogs? Podcasts? Mobile TV? IPTV? Broadcasters who are just taking a breath from having completed (or at least begun) their digital transition are now being challenged to repurpose their programming in new ways to create new revenue streams and maintain their listening and viewing audiences.

Riding to the rescue is the 2006 National Association of Broadcasters convention, hosting a Podcasting Summit, a Web & Mobile Development Conference, MoTV: Mobile Video and TV Forum, and IPTV World. And DTV and HD Radio will continue to take center stage.

Sessions will talk about a "tectonic shift in film and broadcast," and exhibitors will offer tools to send video and audio to both the largest and the smallest screens.

With apologies to the Oldsmobile people, this is not your father's NAB anymore.

"We try to keep our conferences as dynamic as possible, trying to follow the trends in technology," said John Marino, NAB vice president of science and technology. "We've looked at these newer technologies and felt our attendees needed to know more about them."

The success of the Apple iPod and other MP3 players has created industry buzz for podcasting.

"It's not that a lot of people are making money with podcasting, but it's a technology that's out there," Marino said.

Attendees at Saturday's Podcasting Summit sessions had the opportunity to learn the mechanics of podcasting, what equipment is needed and how to encode the materials. On Sunday the business side of podcasting was explored.

"[We talked] about how you can possibly make money off of podcasting, how you can generate revenue by selling advertising or subscriptions."

The Podcasting Summit was produced in partnership with Future Media Concepts.

NAB has featured the Internet since the Web took off years ago. At this year's two-day Web and Mobile Development Conference, Tuesday and Wednesday, the technical sessions will focus on new tools for Internet and mobile delivery of video. Two concurrent tracks are scheduled, one for design, one for development.

"There are technologies which have been developed to make these videos more pleasant to look at," said Marino. "[Attendees will learn] how to develop the proper content that doesn't fatigue the viewer."

The Web and Mobile Development Conference is produced in partnership with Future Media Concepts and Adobe.

With some predicting television will begin broadcasting to mobile phones within a year, Tuesday's MoTV: Mobile Video and TV Forum will look at ways that a business model for the service can be built by television and cable services.

Video services delivered to the home via Internet protocol, IPTV, will be the subject of Wednesday's IPTV World.

"This conference is going to deal with a lot of the business issues around IPTV, not so much nuts and bolts, but the actual business of IPTV and how it's going to roll out over the next several years, and what the trends are for it."

MoTV and IPTV World are both produced in partnership with iHollywood Forum.

Even with all the attention being paid to new forms of broadcasting, bread-and-butter television and radio broadcasting are not being ignored at NAB.

"We always have the Broadcast Engineering Conference, which is pretty much the only place in the world where you can get in-depth knowledge of what's happening on the broadcast side and the technologies that are moving forward in that area," said Marino.

NAB will once again have its NAB-HD station in the Central Hall. Though the broadcasts will originate in HD, they'll be available in HD and SD throughout the convention center, in SD in many hotel rooms, and in DVB-H in the Central and South Halls for suitable mobile devices.

And if high-definition isn't enough, NHK Science and Technical Research Laboratories will present its UltraHigh-Definition & 3D-HDTV Theater, with video 16-times the resolution of HDTV (more than twice the resolution of 70mm motion film), and a 22.2 multichannel sound system to give a feeling of immersion in the reproduced scene.

Programming and monetizing the multichannel opportunities digital broadcasting presents will be among the topics on the table at the Broadcast Management Conference.

The Digital Home, Internet and next-generation television, news in the year 2010 and new technologies for digital media delivery will be covered in super sessions.

NAB's Business, Law & Regulation Conference will pay special attention to super-sized indecency fines recently leveled at broadcasters. The conference again brings federal regulators and legal experts together with broadcasters.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association will run its conference concurrently in the Las Vegas Hilton, with a highlight session "Katrina: Lessons Learned," featuring Gulf-state electronic journalists who stood in the storm's path and covered the disaster.

© 2006 NAB