AMSTERDAM — If last year’s record is anything to go by, about 55,000 delegates from 170 countries will be attending the IBC2017 conference and exhibition in Amsterdam Sept. 14–19. And although the IBC2017 program is heavy on broadcast TV and new media, the conference’s forward-looking approach to content delivery makes it a must-attend for many in the radio industry.
Radio World International spoke to four radio-centric attendees who are looking forward to IBC2017 and all it has to offer.
WHO THEY ARE
The four delegates attending IBC2017 who spoke with us about their IBC radio interests come from all over the globe.
Ruxandra Obreja is chair of the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.
Credit: DRM Consortium
Ruxandra Obreja is chair of the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium, which is headquartered in London. The DRM Consortium is a not-for profit, international organization promoting the adoption of the DRM digital radio standard (AM, Band I, II and III) around the world. DRM has about 100 international members representing broadcasters, equipment manufacturers, research institutes and radio specialists.
Bernie O’Neill is project director for WorldDAB. It is the organization that promotes the adoption and implementation of the DAB/DAB+ digital radio standard worldwide. WorldDAB’s membership includes public and commercial broadcasters, network providers; and receiver, chip and car manufacturers.
WorldDAB will also be presenting the Advances in Technology session entitled “DAB at the Core of Radio’s Digital Transformation” at IBC2017. According to O’Neill, this year’s session will look at progress on Norway’s ongoing switch from FM to DAB+, the evolving business case for DAB+ for broadcasters, DAB+ for data and EU receiver legislation.
Mirek Ostrowski is technical director at Radio Wrocław, Poland.
Credit: Radio Wrocław
Mirek Ostrowski is technical director at Radio Wrocław, in Poland. A 30-year employee of this regional radio station (which broadcasts three 24/7 programs; one on FM/DAB+, a second on FM only, and the third in DAB+ only), Ostrowski is a digital radio pioneer in his country.
“In 2009, I launched the first DAB+ transmission in Poland and I continue to be active in the implementation of DAB+ in Poland,” he said. “I am fascinated with hybrid radio and the use of mobile platforms in radio broadcasting and I work with organizations including WorldDAB, RadioDNS, and the International DMB Advancement Group.”
Sushil Pokharel is CEO of Sushmit International Pvt. Ltd. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sushmit International is an authorized distributor and systems integrator for several international FM/TV broadcasting products for broadcasters in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal.
As was mentioned at the start of this article, “The world of television, OTT, LTE, G5 and all the much-bandied new concepts and acronyms dominate IBC2017,” said Obreja. “However, as digital audio is the basis of the whole industry, anything new which shows how technology can enhance content and satisfy customers is of interest to us.”
Bernie O’Neill, World DAB project director
Besides, the sheer size of the international audience attending the event annually, combined with the wide range of equipment on display, makes this conference/exhibition an excellent place for the DRM Consortium to win converts to its DRM digital radio standard. The result: “For the consortium, IBC is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — annual event,” she said.
WorldDAB is also going to IBC2017 to establish new contacts, as well as touch base with existing DAB/DAB+ radio broadcasters. “Last year we had 15 of WorldDAB’s members exhibit at the show, and it’s also a great place to meet stakeholders from countries and companies preparing to launch DAB services and trials,” said O’Neill. “Our presence at IBC is twofold: We will have a stand in Hall 10 F27, and as in recent years, IBC has invited us again this year to produce a digital radio session that will take place on Monday Sept. 18 at 10 to 11:30 a.m. in room E102.”
For Ostrowski, attending IBC2017 as a radio engineer “gives you a chance to discuss very detailed issues with specialists, experience direct contact with particular devices, and discover something new which may change your way of looking at some fields of radio activity,” he said. “Attending IBC also gives you the chance to meet people from various countries and share experiences. Although radio is not the most important at the annual IBC conference/exhibition, there are many radio people who come there, so IBC is a really good meeting place for radio people.”
Sushil Pokharel, managing director, Sushmit International Pvt. Ltd.
Credit: Sushil Pokharel
Pokharel says that attending IBC annually is vital to the success of his business. “At IBC, our people with Sushmit International get to meet potential clients around the world, who visit our booth and get updated about the latest technology in content production/delivery cloud-based solutions and broadcast technology,” he said. “In turn, the delegates who visit our IBC booth provide us with solid business leads and intelligence about their needs, which translates into real sales afterwards. In addition, IBC is a good place to meet in person with the different companies that I represent in Nepal and get updated about latest technology in each specific product line.”
As befits the differing interests of these four IBC2017 delegates, each of them have different things they are hoping to achieve by attending the event; be it specific technical solutions, promoting their products and services, or just identifying the latest industry trends.
Ostrowski is coming to Amsterdam for technical solutions. He explained that Radio Wrocław has already embraced multiplatform content delivery: “We do audio streaming, we run applications for all three programs and for various mobile platforms, and we also do video streaming as live transmissions from Radio Wrocław’s studios or video podcasts on our websites,” he said.
As a result, Ostrowski will be looking for “outside broadcasting transmission products” that can be used by Radio Wrocław’s journalists away from the studios; specifically, equipment for “bonding bandwidths from various mobile network operators to assure uninterrupted live transmissions from the field,” he said.
In addition, Radio Wrocław wants to buy equipment to deliver live video streaming from these journalists to this broadcaster’s websites, as well as supplying live audio to its DAB+ and FM radio stations. “We already do this in studio,” Ostrowski said. “Now we plan to do that from off-site. It’s a real challenge, but if we want to survive in today’s increasingly-competitive media landscape, we have to act.”
Pokharel will be in Amsterdam not just to sell his wares, but to see what new radio products other people are selling that might prove useful in Nepal and neighboring countries. “I am primarily looking for digital broadcast solutions for radio, since Nepalese radio stations are going to digitize soon,” he said. Pokharel’s IBC2017 shopping list will prioritize digital radio FM transmitters, but he is also interested in “the latest audio processors and broadcast digital consoles too.”
WorldDAB’s Bernie O’Neill is hoping to show exhibition attendees “the wide range of DAB digital radio receivers available, update them on the global rollout status of DAB, inform them about the opportunities that DAB opens up for broadcasters, and point them in the direction of our member organizations also exhibiting at the show, and who can help them realize their plans to digitize radio,” she said.
“We’ll be holding meetings with stakeholders from emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, South Africa and the Middle East, as well as those European countries now starting to prepare to launch DAB+. It’s also a time when we learn a lot from the rest of the industry and find out what’s been happening behind the scenes.”
Obreja is coming to IBC to spotlight the DRM digital radio standard and new DRM equipment — “last year we unveiled the first software-defined all-band multistandard receiver,” she said — and to find out what is being achieved by DRM broadcasters across the globe.
On a larger scale, Obreja is attending the show to find out what is legitimately exciting and new in broadcast/internet technology, and what is merely “vaporware,” as they say in the computer industry. “In my experience, there is always something new worth learning about and there is also a lot of hype,” she said. “The big challenge is to spot the real game changers and not be caught up in the hype.”
Paying to fly and stay in Amsterdam for the annual conference/exhibition isn’t cheap. Yet all four of these IBC2017 attendees see the expense as being worthwhile. This is why Ostrowski has been coming to IBC since 1994, Obreja since 2008, O’Neill since 2011, and Pokharel since 2013.
“Does coming to IBC pay off in terms of finding solutions that Radio Wrocław needs? Why yes, it does,” said Ostrowski. “In fact, it has happened several times already. For instance, some years ago I was looking for a solution for live video streaming and recording. At IBC, I found a great system that needs no assistance from the radio staff. It is fully automatic and uses artificial intelligence to produce a video image that is very attractive to viewers.”
For their parts, Obreja, O’Neill, and Pokharel report similar success in wooing new digital adherents (DRM and DAB/DAB+), and lining up new broadcast sales in the Nepal region respectively. “Last year we had a lot of really useful meetings and heard from several new countries looking at setting up DAB+ trials,” said O’Neill.
This is why all four will be in attendance at IBC2017 this September, and likely at succeeding IBC conferences/exhibitions for years to come.
James Careless reports on the industry for Radio World from Ottawa, Ontario.