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IBC Show Returns — in Real Life

Having endured starts and stops in 2021, the show is ready to go on

“We are moving forward, we are here for our industry, and together we are a community.”

That’s the message to attendees from organizers of IBC2022 as they prepare for their first in-person show in three years. 

The show was cancelled in 2020 in the face of the pandemic. In 2021 the organizers at first postponed the event for a couple of months but then were obliged to cancel less than two weeks before opening.

IBC2022 will take place Sept. 9–12 at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Center in the Netherlands.

Chief Executive Michael Crimp said, “We’ve already seen how the return of live events is reinvigorating the industry and, at IBC2022, we will enable everyone on our show floor to get back to business in the face-to-face way they love.”

Organizers aren’t projecting an attendance number publicly, though as at other recent events, turnout is likely to be well off pre-pandemic levels. The show drew around 56,400 in 2019. Attendance at the spring NAB Show in Las Vegas was down about 43% compared to 2019.

The IBC show is shorter than in years past. At one time, IBC events spread over six days. It was cut to five in 2019, and this year it is four.

Photos courtesy of IBC.

[“IBC to Present BBC With International Honor for Excellence”]

At last report about 850 companies were signed on to exhibit. As of mid-August, the list of names familiar to Radio World readers included AEQ, Broadcast Bionics, Comrex, ENCO Systems, GatesAir, Jampro, Lawo, Nautel, Orban Europe, Prodys, RCS, Rohde & Schwarz, SixArms, Telos Alliance, Thimeo, Tieline, Veritone, Wheatstone, winMedia, WorldCast Group, Xperi and Yellowtec.

There is a Sunday session on the topic of small-scale DAB, put on by WorldDAB. Otherwise the official conference agenda does not include much that’s explicitly about radio, though broadly relevant topics on the program include energy efficiency, personalization, the impact of the cloud on media operations, media rights management, immersive technology and artificial intelligence.

As for COVID considerations, IBC and the venue will follow the Dutch government’s regulations and guidelines. Masks and social distancing are optional. At press time there were no entry restrictions into the Netherlands for travelers from within the EU/Schengen area. An EU entry rule still applied to residents of other countries, who would need to be fully vaccinated or qualify under an exempt category (click here to learn more).

“There truly is no substitute”

“A lot has changed in the last two years,” said Dee McVicker, a spokeswoman for exhibitor Wheatstone. 

“We see the merging of IT with broadcast really taking off this year as a way to streamline and mobilize broadcasting like never before.

John Whyte, head of marketing for Nautel, said, “We’re really looking forward to rekindling many face-to-face relationships with existing customers, resellers, partners and friends.” Nautel will exhibit its new line of compact, rack-mount FM transmitters.

“IBC is unique in character as broadcast shows go,” Whyte said. “What we like about IBC compared to many other shows is the moderate pace that allows us to really dig in and listen to broadcasters. The industry has faced a lot of challenges in the last couple of years and we’ll be listening carefully to understand how we can best serve the industry.”

For the first time Nautel will have representatives on hand from Digidia, which it acquired in 2021 and which makes synchronized FM, DRM and DAB+ solutions. 

Telos Alliance will have a meeting/conference booth focusing on “direct, consultative engagements with customers,” according to Co-CEO Scott Stiefel. 

“During the past two years, we’ve really missed our personal relationships with our customers. Certainly, we’ve kept in close contact and conducted business over Zoom calls … And while it was functional, there truly is no substitute for the personal, one-on-one communication you get when you’re face-to-face.”

Stiefel sees a great need for disaster recovery and flexible contingency planning for radio and broadcast facilities. “As broadcasting moves toward a cloud and virtualized playout environment, facility-based backups will take on a different form.” IBC, he said, provides a venue to showcase the company’s work in real-time and file-based media workflows, including virtualization.

Detlef Wiese said the most pressing challenges in radio today involve security for content transport and remote work capabilities. The company he co-founded, Ferncast, will exhibit and promote its Audio Codec Servers with aixtream Compact software. 

He said Ferncast will be looking for international distributors and “to reconnect personally with people we have not seen for a long time due to the pandemic situation.”

“IBC is a very useful gathering point for the industry globally,” said Nick Piggott, project director of RadioDNS. He’ll be talking about the importance of supporting broadcast radio with metadata and content delivered over IP.

“RadioDNS’ open standards help broadcasters and manufacturers do that. We’ll also be talking to people about the new hybrid radio functionality we’ve defined, and hearing from people on what functionality they’d like from hybrid radio.”

Piggott said radio broadcasters are challenged to find the right mix of technologies. “It’s increasingly complex to work out how to reach audiences in the ways they want to listen, on the devices they want to listen on, in the places they want to listen. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach relying entirely on IP throughout the entire chain from microphone to listener needs careful analysis.”

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Focus on language

The European Broadcasting Union, an alliance of public service broadcast organizations, will exhibit once again.

“We will be showcasing some of the work of the EBU and its members, across 5G distribution and production, DVB-I, metadata and serverless computing, HDR workflows,” said Ben Poor, senior project manager, EBU Technology and Innovation, “as well as a look at the ‘European Perspective’ project, now providing trusted news to audiences across Europe from EBU members, delivered in their own native language.”

Poor said the rate of change is a challenge for radio organizations, as elsewhere, one that has only been accelerated by COVID. 

“In many ways radio is well placed to adapt, as it always has done, but there are significant challenges to audiences, especially in the declining hours of listening due to a competition for share of ear,” Poor said.

“Many of our members have led the way, along with their commercial cousins, in helping to provide a new radio experience. In many ways the content has remained the same, but there are so many new distribution channels and ways of listening. Radio perhaps needs to transform how it measures engagement, away from traditional methods and something that represents better how younger audiences see established things like brands and personalities.”

Among other topics, Poor is interested to see what is being done with language technologies.

“Leading on from the EBU’s EuroVOX project, I’m keen to find out what different vendors are doing for transcriptions and translations,” Poor said.

EuroVOX is an open toolbox intended to reduce the cost and complexity of transcription and translation. It consists of an API to allow integration with production systems and a user-facing tool for navigating, transcribing and translating multilingual content.

“The era of multilingual and fully accessible content across both TV and radio is arriving, and broadcasters should be preparing themselves,” he said.

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Digital radio

The WorldDAB Project Office team will meet with members that exhibit and offer services to assist with DAB deployment, said Communications Manager Will Jackson. They’ll also see stakeholders such as regulators, broadcasters and network operators from various countries.

“WorldDAB brings people together to work on key projects for DAB+ digital radio, such as metadata and logo display,” he said. “It’s vital we present one united voice to the big tech players, to ensure radio remains at the heart of the audio experience and that listeners can continue to enjoy the stations they love.”

He noted that in Amsterdam, attendees can hear a new national multiplex that launched earlier this year, which added 13 commercial stations on DAB+.

WorldDAB will facilitate a Sunday workshop that will explore how broadcasters are taking advantage of DAB+ features.

“We’ll hear how metadata allows radio broadcasters to stay at the forefront of today’s booming audio market, especially in the highly competitive space of the connected car dash. We’ll also feature the exciting innovation of small-scale DAB, which makes use of open-source software along with broadcast hardware to provide affordable access to broadcast digital radio for smaller radio stations, including grass-roots community services, specialist music stations and services aimed at minority groups and other under-served audiences.”

That session will include speakers from BBC, DAB Italia, Digris, Radioplayer UK and Xperi as well as organizations that use small-scale multiplexes.

Meanwhile, Digital Radio Mondiale will hold three events connected to the show, all with the theme “DRM for FM and AM —The Radio Platform for All.” 

In addition to a virtual presentation on Sept. 6, it will host a meet-and-greet with DRM members and specialists at the Fraunhofer IIS stand on the show Saturday, followed the same afternoon with an event in the Nautel booth about the trials of DRM on FM in India and other topics.

“The messages are simple,” said Chairman Ruxandra Obreja. “DRM is the best all-band digital broadcasting system for all your needs and for all listeners … The owners of over 5 million cars with DRM in India cannot be wrong, as DRM has been embraced by the automotive industry there in such a short period of time.”

Obreja said new DRM receivers and receiver solutions will be shown. And she will be on the lookout for partnerships. “Every company or person involved in our industry has a nugget of information, something new to share, a gem that has been hidden by the hideous COVID these last 30 months. I want to uncover as many of these gems as I can.”

Joe D’Angelo, SVP global radio and digital audio at Xperi, said that for him, the most pressing issue in radio technology is “without doubt, the pace of innovation and how quickly alternative audio services can gain access to platforms and audience. Now, more than ever, radio needs to go on the offensive, enhancing services and technology to not only defend their strongholds, but gain new ground in the digital world.”

Xperi will exhibit and is promoting its DTS AutoStage technology, which D’Angelo said is “still the only global hybrid infotainment platform,” free to broadcasters and offering them editorial control and insights into listener habits while enhancing the user experience in the dash. 

“Big Tech is extremely well funded and focused on radio’s audience and platforms. Radio must be strategic and pragmatic in formulating a response that deliver real results on a global scale to stave-off the competition and continue to delight its audience.”

The company will also talk about its DTS Play-Fi home wireless ecosystem, which supports TVs, AVRs, speakers, sound bars and other devices, as well as the benefits of its recent acquisition of Vewd. 

“The combination of our TiVo video service platform and Vewd’s suite of streaming media solutions establishes Xperi as a leading independent media platform for smart TVs, connected cars and Pay-TV operators,” D’Angelo said.

Designing the future

Radio consultant James Cridland is based in Australia and won’t visit IBC this year. “I will miss the Amsterdam pubs. But probably not the cost of the hotel rooms.” Still, he’s keeping an eye on the show and the trends it reveals. 

“For me, the most exciting technology is cloud-based and available to anyone, anywhere.”

The theme of IBC2022 is “What’s next? Designing the future together.” The show will include a dedicated Content Everywhere area in an expanded Hall 5, where exhibitors will feature emerging technologies for multiplatform delivery, OTT streaming and content monetization. A new Showcase Theatre will feature demos, master classes and presentations from technology providers such as Accenture, Amazon Web Services, EVS and Zixi. 

Headline speakers include executives from Marvel Studios, Paramount Global, Warner Bros. Discovery, Universal Pictures and Globo.

[Read more IBC2022 coverage.]