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HD transition pushes confidence higher

1 March 2007

The $11.6bn global broadcast technology industry is growing from strength to strength according to industry trade association, the IABM, with the organisation reporting that supplier confidence is at an all time high this quarter. More than 73% of suppliers reported increased long term confidence levels, a rise of 18% from the Q3 survey and the highest level ever recorded. The main reason cited for supplier optimism is the worldwide transition to HD, writes Andy Stout.

The quarterly trends analysis is undertaken by Ernst & Young analysts on behalf of the IABM, the body that represents broadcast and media technology suppliers worldwide. Almost 60 suppliers from around the world participate in the survey making it the most comprehensive of its kind.

IABM chief executive Roger Crumpton said: “The global transition to HD is picking up momentum as broadcasters and content production companies systematically upgrade their equipment to HD standards, even if they do not plan to broadcast in HD in the immediate future. Our research shows that HD uptake will be fuelled by increased competition between pay TV operators across three platforms: digital cable, satellite direct-to-home (DTH) and IPTV.

“HDTV is reaching a tipping point; spurred by the high profile launch of HD in Europe, HD is now reaching the mass market in the US. Technology driven markets such as the Middle East have rapid HD uptake with Al-Jazeera being the first news channel in the world to broadcast entirely in HD.”

The Asian broadcast and media technology industry expects to grow dramatically as China prepares itself for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, having an estimated US$600m budget for 2007.

The Industry Trends analysis showed that Asia has regained its place as the third most active global market, behind Western Europe and North America respectively. Eastern Europe has risen to fourth position and the Middle East returned to fifth place.

Increased short and long term confidence levels are reflected in the volume and value of Q4 purchase orders with just over 41% of suppliers reporting better or much better than expected order volumes. This figure is up five per cent from Q3 and 13% in Q2. Manufacturing and development capacity is the biggest single factor limiting order fulfilment. More than 50% of suppliers expect to increase employee numbers in the next quarter.

“Demand for specialist staff in a growing market coupled with changing technology is creating a skills bottleneck. The IABM is working with its members and others to address personnel requirements,” said Crumpton. The confidence is driving investment too with 63% of respondents expecting to spend more on R&D in the next 12 months.

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