The European Broadcast Union (EBU) spelled out its vision of a multi-platform, multi-format future for Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) at its recent General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, with a warning to stick to a sound development path and not get swept away by Consumer Electronics (CE) manufacturers. EBU Technical Director Lieven Vermaele stressed the importance of developing a clear technology strategy to ensure that PSBs are present on all platforms. This should involve expanding from the traditional model of a linear shared experience into the personal and mobile domains, while also embracing non-linear and socially-driven experiences. Broadcasters had to recognize they no longer have control over devices and platforms on which their content is available, said Vermaele. At the same time, though, they must ensure they do keep control over their strategic direction, allowing room for the innovation necessary for them to continue thriving in a multi-platform world.
This means avoiding being caught up in the technology rush being driven by CE manufacturers seeking to exploit connected TV for their own commercial objectives. As Vermaele pointed out, just because CE makers continue to push new technologies, it does not mean PSBs have to follow them. Instead, PSBs should focus on development of file-based HDTV production and distribution, so that their branded content can be made available across a wide range of devices and delivery platforms. This migration from tape based to tapeless, file-based workflow is a technical challenge many PSBs are currently undertaking. It brings significant benefits, including a common metadata solution across the production and contribution cycle, enabling ongoing metadata creation. It also gives a content-centric non linear approach where different steps can be performed in parallel, while reducing transcoding and content transmission. This all adds up to cost savings coupled with creation of content that supports search and navigation much better, which are both vital for a multiplatform world.