Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past: global standards needed

“New players and new competition.” Deputy Communications Minister Malaysia at Digital Broadcasting Symposium.


Launching the ABU’s Digital Broadcasting Symposium in Kuala Lumpur today, Malaysia’s deputy communications minister Joseph Salang told delegates that the “momentum of change on broadcasting is accelerating,” and that the use of mobile devices and multiple streams is giving more people access to media.

Broadcasters from across the region have come to Malaysia for this year’s Symposium, organised by the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union. The symposium offers a range of technical workshops and conference sessions for radio and tv broadcasters.

“Policy makers in Malaysia want the country to be at the forefront of technology and content,” said Minister Salang at the summit’s official opening.

Topics of interest to radio broadcasters included discussions of the two main digital radio formats, DRM and DAB+, and various sessions on workflow technology that can make internal production processes more efficient.

Philip Laven, the current chairman of the DVB Consortium, spoke about standards, admitting that he was previously on technical committees that made wrong decisions about equipment standards. The world has many different broadcast technologies, largely as a result of protectionism or the ‘not invented here’ syndrome, which drive broadcasters to choose inferior technologies just because they gave an economic benefit to a country or if the better technology was invented elsewhere. He told the summit that these old ways of thinking should not be repeated in the new technological environment.

“This new era should not be stifled by the old way of doing things, we should not repeat the mistakes of the past. We need a single global standard for digital broadcasting… broadcasters and consumers will benefit from global standards because the price of technology will come down.”

Matthias Stoll from the DRM Board described the latest updates to DRM, which now has compatible standards with DAB and DAB+. Lieven Vermale from the European Broadcasting Union described a world where there are three types of media: linear media, non-liner media and social multi-media. He said consumption patterns can be either shared, personal or mobile.

In broadcast media, all money made goes to the broadcasters, but in media content delivered by non-broadcast platforms 60% of revenue goes to network operators while less than 10% goes to the broadcasters who make the content,” Vermale told delegates, urging them to find new revenue models and be confident in the future for broadcasting. “Broadband will not replace broadcasting, but the two should work together to find mutually beneficial business models.”

The BBC’s Lindsay Cornell said radio’s ‘share of ears’ is falling, especially amongst the young. He asked, how can we be sure radio will still have a place? Digital radio is an important part in that strategy, and so is being on all platforms.

But Cornell warned that the “danger of online platforms is the unknown cost of streaming,” because more listeners means incremental cost increases for the company. Broadcasting however, has fixed costs no matter how many people listen.

He outlined new developments in DAB+’s slideshow technology, which allows broadcasters to categorise slides so that all music graphic art can be grouped together and browsed by swiping the screen, and all news content can be grouped together so that consumers can scroll and read one news story after another.

Other issues that Cornell and other digital broadcasting experts are looking at includes levels and loudness, so that digital broadcasting is consistent with analog levels when played in one device.

With the patents now expired on digital broadcast technology, Cornell believes equipment and receiver prices will fall because new competitors will come into the market.


In a session on improving productivity through better workflow, Stephen Kyefulumya from Pilat Media told delegates how his company’s broadcast management system, called IBMS (Integrated broadcast Management System), can improve productivity across most areas of the broadcast chain.

IBMS is used in radio by the BBC World Service, SBS Australia, and the company is currently finalising enhancements which will allow Southern Cross Austereo to expand its system from its television operations to include Radio. SCA will be going live in April with the new integrated system.

In Australia and New Zealand, Pilat’s tv clients are; Southern Cross Austereo, SBS, TEN, PRIME, FOXTEL, SKY NZ, TVNZ and Tv3.

As a state of the art broadcast management system IBMS benefits the radio broadcaster by providing a range of key benefits and ROI opportunities such as: “Increased Operational Efficiency, Reduced Revenue Leakage and Better Exploitation of Revenue Opportunities.”

The diagrams from the Pilat Media below outline the workflow model for SBS and BBC.