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Exhibitors are already planning the next show attendance. Big upcoming shows are Broadcast Asia in Singapore and IBC in Amsterdam. For the technology buyer these shows represent the milestones where vendors launch their new products. Even if you don't attend, that new model may be just what you need for the next project.

IBC has announced five themes for the 2005 conference: HDTV, mobile, content production and protection, D-Cinema and delivery to the consumer. These themes echo the all-enveloping nature of video delivery. Electronic entertainment, once the sole domain of the television broadcaster, is now being adopted at high-resolution for the cinema, and low-resolution for the mobile telecoms industry. Therefore, what was once of peripheral interest to broadcasters, now becomes part of a multi-channel distribution conduit from content creators to the consumer.

In the 1990s, television broadcast equipment had matured to the point where broadcasting had developed stable workflows and business models. This new paradigm of cross-digital production is raising new opportunities, but it introduces competition from other sectors — complacency is not an option.

Attendant with electronic delivery comes electronic piracy. No conference today can ignore the many issues related to intellectual property rights management.

The shows have always been the focus for product innovation, and as the technology diversifies, and converges with other sectors, the networking that accompanies the shows becomes an essential part. It is time to talk with old friends about what they’re doing about these new technologies. At the turn of the century we were promised a new digital world. Five years later, it is becoming a reality, and is now a sound business proposition. Those heady days of the Internet boom have been replaced with the regular processes of sound business planning.

There are many technological advances that promise to bring down the cost of broadcast plant. This year, alongside the usual advances in CPU power and falling prices of memory and storage, we are seeing several manufacturers starting to leverage the power of graphics processors designed for the video-games market. The broadcaster can now use the hardware mass-produced for office IT and games to replace, at a fraction of the cost, the custom hardware that was always considered essential for professional television equipment. The special expertise now is in the software, and especially the design of user-interfaces. Look at the booth graphics this year and see how many times you see the word "workflow."

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