The pandemic has brought the opportunity to accelerate towards "remote and distributed production that relies on IP infrastructure and the cloud, and mature new distribution infrastructures that integrate a new generation of IP-based broadcast, multicast and edge-casting modes", EBU Director of Technology & Innovation Antonio Arcidiacono writes. This editorial was first published in the September issue of our quarterly tech-i magazine.
COVID-19 has opened a door; it is time for us to step through it and embrace the new reality, realizing the positive opportunities it brings. In short, this means acceleration towards remote and distributed production that relies on IP infrastructure and the cloud; and mature new distribution infrastructures that integrate a new generation of IP-based broadcast, multicast and edge-casting modes.
The new remote production requirements that have emerged strongly during the last few months are helping us to find new solutions, steering existing experiences in Live IP and 5G-supported production into new solutions that will become the new backbone for a cost-effective and flexible production strategy that can optimize resources. Ultimately the aim is to help Europe’s public broadcasters produce, recommend and customize content with new attributes that deliver value to citizens, as curious, informed and responsible individuals.
It is important to stress, however, that we are not going to ‘copy’ existing models developed by incumbent internet companies, even if dialogue with them will be a crucial part of the process (see page 6 of tech-i magazine issue 045). Rather we propose an original way of serving European citizens and supporting European Media Sovereignty. AI-based language and recommendation tools will be focused on informing, educating and entertaining the ‘new citizen’, using a common technological base for a diverse range of applications/industries. A distributed online cloud-powered infrastructure will allow the development of new formats, interactively involving thousands of end users.
The theory, however, is all well and good; we need to translate this into actions, and for this you need energy. My role and that of the T&I team is therefore to catalyse the resources and the expertise available in each EBU Member, proposing new ideas and related products and services, and aggregating those resources to build that innovation edge – the innovation that remains one of the goals and raisons d’être of public service media.
The practical implementation of our vision has been already translated into a series of successful initiatives. These include the expansion of the PEACH personalization and recommendation tools, the launch of the EuroVOX project (page 14), the creation of the 5G Media Action Group to represent the media industry in the 5G ecosystem (page 5), etc.
The crisis has accelerated innovation projects right across the PSM community. It is helping us to bypass natural resistance to change, overcoming the protection of the comfort zone. One example from the membership is the cloud-based production solution, co-developed by VRT and RTBF in Belgium, that quickly went from experimental idea to deployed product (page 7).
We have seen this same impetus to join forces in a common direction in the active willingness from virtually every EBU Member to participate in our weekly roundtables where solutions and new ideas were proposed to create new and more effective offers for an audience looking again and with more ‘attention’, towards PSM. New initiatives, that will become public in the coming months, have finally got that convergent quantum of energy that has allowed us to jump across to the energy band where electrons flow without ‘traditional’ resistance. New projects are now actively supported by a large number of EBU Members and often in collaboration with the whole media industry.
The combination of EBU Members’ content and expertise is now permitting the creation of new product initiatives to better inform, educate and entertain European citizens. European institutions are the additional accelerator that could help those initiatives to materialize and continue to resonate well beyond the critical period we are currently living through.