Gage, executive vice president and chief technology officer for the
National Association of Broadcasters, addressed the 67th
annual Broadcast Engineering Conference during the spring NAB Show.
Here are excerpts.
year ago, I challenged you — the technology leaders of the
broadcasting industry — to join me and NAB in transforming our
Gage. ‘For radio, we are strongly focused on advancing into the
digital, handheld age.’
by Jim Peck
are the original “wireless” industry, but we were not perceived
to be wireless. We are the original social network of our local
communities, but we were not perceived to be that. In the past year,
many of you took up my challenge and joined me in leading our
year, we launched NAB Labs as a platform for broadcaster innovation
and the NAB Labs technology teams that have lead this transformation.
And as we meet here today, in an atmosphere of constant and
accelerating change for our industry — one in which the stakes
could not be higher — innovation and progress to a changing media
technology landscape has become an essential, daily component of
broadcasting, and a prerequisite for its continuance as a competitive
NAB Board acknowledged this when they championed the formation of NAB
Labs to help drive this process for the industry, and in the past
year, we’ve worked tirelessly to build momentum in that direction.
both the radio and television sides of the business, NAB Labs has
launched projects that we expect to have significant applicable
impact on broadcasters’ future. For radio, we are strongly focused
on advancing into the digital, handheld age.
area in which we see strong promise is hybrid radio. We’ve defined
and developed the technology, held meetings across the country and
the world, brought previously separate communities together, and made
investments to help this fledgling technology reach a tipping point.
also dug deep on the possibilities for AM radio’s revitalization.
Again, we’ve studied the options and are taking steps to develop a
multi-tiered strategy that will refresh the senior broadcast band and
give it new life in the digital age. We’ve run tests on all-digital
IBOC for AM, which has never been broadly tested, with promising
initial results. More tests are planned on this soon, along with
other exploration of possible options for AM broadcasting
the TV side, where all things are already digital, we’re looking at
the next generation of technology that can make television even more
compelling, flexible and entertaining. Through the efforts of our
members in the NAB Labs Television Technology Committee, we are
exploring just what a next-generation broadcast TV platform should
include, and taking steps to test these assumptions in real-world
know that television is quickly moving to a connected,
multi-platform, multi-screen environment … and we want to ensure
broadcasters’ place in this new world. NAB Labs will leave no stone
unturned in that quest, and in fact, we expect to get out ahead of
the development curve.
… We’ve made some new connections with industry groups that might
have seemed unusual in the past, but we feel they are critical today,
and will be even more so moving forward. NAB is now a member of W3C —
the World Wide Web Consortium, which guides the development of new
joined ATIS — the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry
Solutions — and through that membership have joined 3GPP, the body
that sets standards for wireless telecommunications.
along with our continuing leadership of ATSC and its ATSC 3.0
standards development, we remain involved on a global scale with
FoBTV — the Future of Broadcast Television group.
has also joined DVB, another worldwide digital television standards
development organization that is pursuing next-generation solutions
as well. Working with all of these bodies, and others we find
appropriate in the future, will provide NAB Labs with the broadest
possible vision of what’s next for television technology, and what
path makes the most sense for broadcasters to pursue.
work in these new spaces will also provide opportunities to forge new
partnerships — another key role that NAB Labs has been charged
with. We’ve already worked with our radio members to help enable
hybrid radio technology, and one application of those efforts is the
recent announcement by Sprint that will result in millions of new FM
receivers in smartphones.
will seek out and explore other new affiliations, unorthodox though
they may seem to be at first, as we establish our place within the
“new normal” of the broadcasting business.
common thread among these emerging venues is the importance of
content discovery. How do ever-increasing, fragmented audiences find
the programs they want, in the forms and on the devices that they
this was easy. Two knobs were all you needed: tuning and volume.
it’s much more complex and competitive and becoming more so every
day. We need to ensure that consumers can still find and enjoy
broadcast content easily and quickly, on whatever device, or devices,
they are using at the moment.
key attribute of any new technologies we select is how well they play
to broadcasters’ strengths. The criterion of robustness and
scalability is foremost among these.
seen many recent cases of communications systems’ failure in times
of crisis, with only broadcasting remaining intact, and providing its
critical lifeline service to affected users. Any new technologies we
adopt will have to not only retain, but improve upon, this level of
reliability, effectiveness and expanded emergency alerting
capabilities, ensuring that broadcasters will continue to serve our
local communities as their first informer in times of crisis.
increasingly unique element of the service broadcasters provide is
any new delivery systems we adopt must build upon this essential
capability, and allow broadcasters to present both national and local
content to their audiences. In fact, we should explore new
technologies for their ability to provide even finer granularity for
our services, targeting “hyper-local” audiences within a
broadcast market and develop new ways to connect and build upon the
trust relationship we have with our local communities.
audiences we serve are also increasingly mobile, and they want their
media content along for the ride. Radio has long been a mobile
service, but we can make it even more pervasive with its inclusion on
more handheld devices, and its expanded service to vehicles through
hybrid radio techniques.
as the first Mobile TV devices emerge, we are taking the first real
steps toward adding mobility to our television services. Many more
similar steps must follow.
also learned that our audiences are increasingly diverse, and they
expect a greater degree of control over their media content. So our
next-generation services must offer greater choice and interactivity.
Of course, all this technology is worth nothing if we do not also
identify and develop the new products and services that our consumers
require and expect
interactive services. Mobile services. Higher-quality services.
“Service following” and discovery. Today’s consumer is more
technologically demanding and savvy than any other era, and with our
new platforms, we will have a new way to connect with them and meet
their requirements and exceed their expectations.
with HDTV, broadcasters will drive the bulk of innovation on these
new areas, and the rest of the industry will follow. So many have
said that broadcasters don’t innovate, but we know this is patently
untrue. Yet we are now challenged to elevate our innovation to the
next level, with expansive thinking that confronts traditional
next-generation broadcast systems will require greater flexibility
and agility than in the past, to meet unknown and ever-changing
market dynamics and competition. While challenging such fundamental
tenets of broadcasting may raise some eyebrows, it is necessary.
is evolution, and we believe it is good business to revisit these
long-held beliefs to see if they still have merit. But to do this, we
will need to work together. Over the past year, the leadership
assembled in this room has proven they are up to the task.
Labs will continue to be the catalyst for these discussions, and the
clearinghouse for your ideas. And when we, or others, make progress,
we will share that information with you through the numerous channels
of NAB Labs’ educational processes.
over 90 years, NAB has been working with and for broadcasters to keep
the industry strong. While none of us will probably be here 90 years
from now, we can leave a platform for the next generation technology
leadership to thrive on and be proud of.
is within our power and, in fact, it is our obligation to build upon
of work in 2012 and work together to define our own destiny.
glad you’re here, and we want to continue to hear from you. Engage
with us, and help us make NAB Labs a powerful vehicle for our mutual
propulsion into the next generation of broadcasting.
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