Conference Includes a Look at the Future of TV News, Allocating Spectrum

Fans of hit BBC entrepreneurial panel show “Dragon’s Den” will appreciate IBC’s new Innovation Arena this year as a dozen hopefuls pitch their ideas to a panel of hardened judges on Saturday, 12 September.

Designed so that smaller companies can showcase exciting new content, services, applications and products, the arena consists of two sessions stretching over the first half of Saturday. Fledgling companies are set to pitch their ideas to a panel of economists, venture capitalists, online content innovators, telco honchos and technologists in an “elevator pitch style” with Q&A to follow.

Chaired by Ken Blakeslee, a private equity investor in the mobile sector, other judges include Angel Gambino, who has worked as a key strategist at Bebo, MTV and BBC’s emerging platforms department; and Henrik Werdelin, chief creative officer at online content portal, Joost.

Confirmed pitchers include Bill Scanlon, chief executive of Far Blue images, which offers tools for converting 2D to 3D; and Matt Heiman, currently an advisor at U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 and also founder of Diagonal View, Mobix and the online fundraising portal,

User-generated content seems to have a polarizing effect on newsroom professionals. Keen to interact more with their audiences, broadcasters are encouraging viewers to become “citizen journalists” and send in their own material for broadcast. Former vice president Al Gore’s channel Current TV relies heavily on user-generated content as part of its business model.

But for every image sent in by the average lay person caught up in the middle of a breaking news story, there is also the crazier stuff — whacky images of snowmen and skateboarding squirrels — which trained broadcast journalists argue threaten to undermine and trivialize the news.

Saturday’s closing keynote at the IBC conference provocatively asks whether, in a world where we are all supposedly journalists, ‘Is the broadcast journalist a threatened species?’ Current TV’s James Baker joins established print, online and television journalists to debate the future of news on television. Deborah Rayner, managing editor of CNN International, sets out the case for professional journalism in a keynote. Baker, Rayner and other leading print, online and broadcast journalists will then join a panel debate.

As broadcasters make the transition from analogue to digital TV one of the most controversial topics in the industry has become how to allocate digital spectrum, an issue that IBC is putting under the microscope in its session “Allocating Spectrum: Fair Play for Everyone” on Sunday, 13 September.

The session, chaired by consulting engineer Alan Downie, looks at issues such as what will happen when analogue is switched off and consumers clamour for more HD channels and also whether DVB-T2 (Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial) offers any kind of solution.

Following the most recent G8 Summit national leaders agreed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and for most companies “going green” is becoming less of a marketing statement and more of a duty. Yet going green in an industry with a voracious appetite for energy and materials will no doubt be a challenge, which is why IBC has gone big on green issues this year.

Sunday’s closing panel session, chaired by environmental strategist Janet West, asks ‘What is the cost of not being green?’ and highlights some successful strategic initiatives that have already been implemented, achieving environmentally responsible practices without compromising quality or losing the competitive edge.

Panasonic’s European IT head Jaume Rey, meanwhile, is set to deliver the closing keynote that looks at how not being green enough might impact a company’s profit and loss statements. He also assesses what the costs of failing to meet environmental targets are likely to be.