Broadcast manufacturers discuss the future

The conference was an eclectic mix of speakers from broadcasters, regulators, financers and manufacturers
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Last January, the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers (IABM) held a conference in Reading. England, entitled "Making it in the Broadcast Business". There was a strong turnout of manufacturers, many from the local enclave within the Thames Valley, but also from mainland Europe and North America.

The conference director, Adrian Scott, assembled an eclectic group of speakers from broadcasters, regulators and financers as well as from the membership base of manufacturers.

The aim of the conference was to explore some of the issues that face manufacturers of equipment for broadcasters and the electronic media business. The agenda covered the impact of emerging technologies, regulation, training and marketing with the closing session covering a traditional area for the IABM, tradeshows.

An innovation at the conference was the use of handheld wireless voting terminals. Speakers could poll the audience and see the results on the screen within seconds. The first question was about coping with technology changes. Thirty-three percent of the audience felt they were on top of changes, while 42 percent said they knew change needed to occur, but was not sure how to achieve it.

Conference sessions
The regulation session discussed standards. The manufacturing industry has to meet obligations on product safety, but it is the broadcaster that has to bear most of the burden of regulation. On standards, the general feeling was that open standards should be the goal, with proprietary standards the fallback where speed to market is of essence.

The training and recruitment session looked at how the industry is suffering from a shortage of qualified new entrants. Seventy-five percent of the audience agreed that broadcast engineering education should move closer to the information technology (IT) skills base. Furthermore, 80 percent thought that there was insufficient retraining and career development of their staff. Hans Venmans of Avid Technology noted that young people understand broadcast technology to be the laptop editor (rather than the switchers, routers and terminal equipment of the traditional engineer). With a strong background in IT, they often know more about emerging technologies than their educators. Another speaker noted that the manufacturers' customers in the post industry are now looking for multi-skilled individuals who understand video, graphics and audio. In the marketing mix session, the audience survey confirmed that the manufacturers' spend most of their money on marketing trade shows. Advertising and print products followed a close second and third in terms of how manufacturers spend their money.

One of the panels, from outside the world of broadcasting, said that this sector spends far more on trade shows than the norm. “Is it just that we like the Las Vegas Convention Center?” This raised the question as to whether trade shows deliver value. The trade show corner was defended by Chris Brown, NAB, and Mike Crimp, IBC. Many manufacturers are now looking at low cost alternative channels like e-marketing and e-commerce.

The question as to why companies go to a show met with the following: 70 percent to meet existing customers and 63 percent to get new leads; meeting resellers and partners, launching new products and watching competitors rated around 47 percent. Bonding with old friends rated 30 percent. Back to the top