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Exploring Broadcasting’s Future in the IP Age

Television broadcasting has gone through numerous significant changes since the first station went on-air more than 80 years ago, but nothing may prove to have such an impact on the medium as IP technology.

Television broadcasting has gone through numerous significant changes since the first station went on-air more than 80 years ago, but nothing may prove to have such an impact on the medium as IP technology. “A butterfly flaps its wings in Silicon Valley and now there’s a tidal wave of change heading towards the broadcast industry,” according to Joe Zaller, CEO of research firm Devoncroft, quoted by TV Technology magazine editor-in-chief Tom Butts.

According to the 2015 Global Market Valuation Report (GMVR), published by IABM DC LLC, a joint venture between IABM and Devoncroft Partners, this is a dynamic time for the broadcast and media industry. The GMVR gathers information on nearly 3,000 individual technology vendors and service providers to provide a definitive valuation of the broadcast and media technology supply market.

Close study of the aggregate performance of the market from 2009 through 2014 “provides evidence of a structural shift in the industry,” the report concludes. Around 2011-2012, it finds, the market for products shrank in the face of new services—software and the cloud, in particular—as the industry started to adopt over the top (OTT) content distribution and began implementing new workflows.

At the upcoming 139th AES International Convention in New York City, a variety of panel discussions, tutorials and workshops will address the future of broadcast at this crucial point in its progress. The Broadcast and Streaming Media Track, once again chaired by David Bialik, will address a variety of IP-related issues. “Do you have to have a transmitter to be a broadcaster?” asks the program notes. “Consider that next year (2016), one company claims they will be the largest broadcaster in the world—and that company is Netflix.”

“Streaming Audio from the Cloud,” a panel moderated by consultant John Kean, will reveal some of the ways that streaming, podcasts and progressive file transfer are being used to deliver content, and look at the system architectures behind them.

Several members of the Technical Committee on Loudness in Streaming and Network Playback, recently established by the AES, will also discuss regulations during the “Loudness for Streaming” panel. The CALM Act in this country and PLOUD on the opposite side of the Atlantic have legally codified loudness controls for broadcast TV, but no such restrictions exist for the internet yet. With the loudness war now moving to the web, the AES has produced a new set of recommendations for streaming entities.

In early 2010, Reed Hundt, Federal Communications Committee chairman during the 1990s, publicly revealed that he led efforts to make the internet the dominant communications medium during his tenure. “We decided in 1994 that the internet should be the common medium in the United States and broadcast should not be,” said Hundt. The reasoning, he said, was that “the United States had 100 percent, essentially, penetration of the telephone networks, and the world’s largest installed base of personal computers—I think it was about 50 percent in that time period.” Allowing that some of the regulations pushed through were “a little naughty,” he added, “We delayed the transition to HDTV, and fought a big battle against the whole idea, but we lost.”

Twenty-one years after Hundt’s efforts, Bialik has scheduled a panel that asks, “Audio and IP: Are We There Yet?” A panel of experts will discuss the many and various protocols available for audio networking and internet delivery while also pondering the definition of broadcasting in the IP age. Attempts to invite Hundt to participate came to naught, according to the program notes.

The theme of this year’s DTV Audio Group forum is “The Accelerating Pace of Change in Television Audio.” Tom Sahara, VP, Operations and Technology, Turner Sports and chairman, Sports Video Group, will get the four-hour forum started with a keynote considering the impact of mobile and fixed streaming services, which has been greater and more far-reaching than previously predicted.