IBC and public service broadcasters

IBC and public service broadcasters

AMSTERDAM: The muggy cloudy skies cleared over Amsterdam and the sun started shining down on 8 September as IBC began its 2010 edition in the RAI exhibition centre with its conferences.

‘Does public broadcasting have a future?‘ was one of the keynote sessions which had BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons, European Broadcasting Union director general Ingrid Deltenre, NHK Japan vice president Yoshinori Imai and Corporation for Public Broadcasting EVP & COO Vincent Curren trying to give their world view on the same.

The net conclusion was that public service broadcasters (PSBs) do have a future, though they are being challenged on several fronts, whether on content, control from governments, or technology and competition from commercial broadcasting.

Deltenre said that many of the public service broadcasters in Europe are healthy. ?While the number of channels has gone up to 7500 over the years, PSBs have lost only two-three per cent marketshare. But it?s shameless how many of the politicians use the PSBs as a play ball threatening to reduce their licence fees. In Slovakia, for instance, there is a referendum to abolish licence fees and replace it with only one third funding as compensation. Even in Hungary, Poland, Croatia, the sounds are not good. France and Spain have been denied advertising; in Spain it is a complete denial, while in the case of France it is after 8 pm.?

Added Lyons: ?Audiences are fragmenting. Technologies are multiplying. New platforms are constantly being invented. Everywhere, funding is under pressure. And in many countries, searching questions are being asked about scale and funding. The challenge for the BBC comes from audiences, it will continue as long as the audiences believe they are getting value. BBC will make distinctive content. We have to keep our overheads under control, only 10 per cent of our income should go in that while 80 per cent should be on content. We are thinking hard about platforms and how to service them without undermining the BBC brand.?

He opined that the licence fee should shift from being on TV sets to devices. He pointed out to Denmark and Germany where changes in the application of the licence fee had already taken place.

Curren spoke about how PSBs can use localism to make themselves relevant to audiences and engage with communities. "In Wisconsin, for instance, we created something for veterans, engaging with them strongly," he said.

Imai spoke about how PSBs have to transform themselves into public service media. He pointed out how NHK was taking this route, having developed Super Hi Vision technology with its 33 megapixel (7680x4320) resolution for which it had signed a joint venture with RAI and the BBC.

?It might take some more time for the displays to appear in your home, but is expected to be deployed earlier in education, public displays and digital signage,? he said.

He also spoke at length about Hybridcast, which would bring that seamless link with broadband as well as integrating with popular social networking sites and regular broadcast. ?It?s not broadband or broadcast anymore, it?s about creating an effective hybrid."

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