The Industry Must ‘CollaborVate’

The final panel of the day had the much-mocked title ‘CollaborVation’ – even the panelists didn’t seem to know what it was really about! The chair was Nigel Walley (MD of Decipher), and the panelists were present as members of the DTG. They were Simon Maison (DTT Platform Steering Group and Dynamic Spectrum Alliance); Chris Johns (Sky and co-chair of UK UHD Forum); George Robertson (Mobile Video Alliance and Home Network Group) and Rory Murphy (MVA).

Walley comes at the industry from a consumer’s perspective, and bluntly asked, “How did we end up with such an utter balls-up like HD-Ready screens?” Johns wouldn’t comment on the past, but said that he hopes to avoid such an issue in the future. Formats and standards are changing with UltraHD, and the DTG is liaising with various bodies to set a minimum set of standards. Walley mentioned that, having listened to the day’s discussions about fluid standards, his thought had been, “Who in their right mind would buy an UltraHD TV now?” before remembering, “Oh s**t – I’ve bought one!”

Maison has been part of the industry since the Eureka Project, where manufacturers, networking providers and broadcasters worked together because they saw the benefit. This breaks down when companies split off to develop their own projects – to the pain of the consumer. Johns chimed in: he said that it was important that UltraHD is not delivered in piecemeal (the dictation transcript awkwardly translated this as ‘piss meal’!) fashion. Broadcasters should not just follow the consumer electronics industry, which wants to sell a new screen every 18 months.

CollaborVation panel Walley Maison Johns

Speaking about standards, Maison praised the DTG’s D-Book for making it easier to collaborate on a given platform. He warned that writing the D-Book Part B was “painful” – the industry must learn from that process, and cannot return to the “agony” of broadcasters and set manufacturers going in two different directions.

In closing, Walley asked about challenges to the panelists’ respective working groups. Maison said that he hopes to get more low-power modulation schemes to interact with the DTT platform; this would make more spectrum space available and enable more HD programming. Johns favoured providing clarity to consumers around UltraHD, while Murphy discussed the evolution of short-form content and UGC. How will the IoT affect the ecosystem when devices can start sending images and video to each other without user interaction, he asked? Later, following some discussion on white space, Maison spoke up again. Everything was all about pixels at CES 2013, but at this year’s show there was a lot of innovation around other enhancements. We are now seeing screens on the market that are at 1,000 cd/m², and broadcasters must catch up (this seems to be contrary to Johns’ point about not letting manufacturers dictate the future of broadcast – TA).

Robertson replied to Walley’s question with his own list: can we keep going forward and working together? Will DLNA be an enabling standard? Will multicast take off? Can it be shared around the home with Wi-Fi?