The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has teamed up with the research company Futuresource Consulting to give public service broadcasting a window on its troublesome future, writes George Jarrett.
Announcing Project Fair Exchange, for which EBU members will provide company-specific data on a confidential, aggregated basis, EBU technology and development director Lieven Vermaele told The IBC Daily: “We continuously look for ways to help EBU Members make informed decisions about which technology roads to take. It should also help our membership and the wider industry to understand where and how to make large investments; how to manage costs; and how to exploit opportunities such as opening up extra revenue streams.
“This is an ambitious project, and something of an experiment, but it’s well worth it. If it is successful, it can become a yearly event,” he added.
The project teams up the EBU’s internal statistical information team with Futuresource. What are the unknowns that Vermaele wants to identify?
“We are looking for trends and tendencies. Where is their investment going? Is it in ingest, high-end content production, postproduction, archiving, generic IT systems, cloud computing, streaming? What are they looking for? What do they believe will be important? What are their experiences with vendors - good and bad? Issues should be unearthed which should lead to a better service from vendors,” he said.
Can EBU members be trusted to share the secret information required. And why not widen the research into commercial broadcasting?
“At no time will company specific information be revealed. This is the only way this could work,” said Vermaele. “Personally, I think it would be beneficial to include non EBU Members in the survey, but this is something we will discuss with our members and with Futuresource. Don't forget that this could be just the first of many successive surveys.”
Project Fair Exchange is purely an EBU initiative, but Vermaele pointed to a jointly run conference with SMPTE, set for Geneva in May.
“At this summit we will try to project ahead to the next five, 10, and 15 years in the media markets,” he said. “We plan to invite the best and most accurate 'gurus' to help us identify what media organisations will look like in the future, and what the EBU should be doing to remain relevant.
“Figures like Leonardo Chairiglioni have agreed to come and pontificate, so we are very excited about the outcome,” he added. “If we have results from Project Fair Exchange which are striking and relevant, we could present them at the summit.”