From two-channel land to a DVB world
DVB's Peter MacAvock on how an international media conference is returning to its Dublin roots in March
1 March 2019 | 0
When I was at UCD back in the (very) late 80s, cultural references that came up in conversation would often fly over the heads of half the people within earshot. If they hadn’t grown up along the east coast or in the north, or perhaps with a much-coveted cable subscription, they were from ‘two channel land’ and had missed out on a whole swathe of comedy classics on BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
The media landscape in Ireland has changed utterly over the last few decades, with technology as a key driver. It might be tempting to give all the credit to the internet, but digital TV has also had a huge impact. The earliest satellite and cable TV systems were analogue, albeit with more than the two channels our terrestrial network offered in Ireland. But with the arrival of digital TV from the mid-90s onwards, there was an explosion in the number of channels available.
I had the good fortune to be involved with the development of digital TV from quite early on, when I was asked to manage a new international organisation called the DVB Project back in 1994. This industry consortium went on to design a suite of technical standards that form the backbone of digital TV services virtually worldwide. If you have a Sky box you’re using the DVB-S2 standard; Saorview uses DVB-T2; and cable providers in Ireland mostly use the DVB-C system. All told, there are more than 1.5 billion devices with a DVB receiver around the world.
The DVB Project was (and still is) hosted by the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva. Its technical director at the time was former RTE DG George Waters, and he had the foresight to see that this burgeoning technology demanded a dedicated annual conference. DVB World, which takes place in Croke Park on 11-13 March, will bring around 200 international delegates together to look at the latest trends and technologies in media delivery. The conference has been touring Europe for the past decade but was in Dublin annually for many years before that.
There are two dominant topics for this year’s event: OTT and 5G. The latter is a term that has become almost ubiquitous, but the picture remains fuzzy as to when 5G will actually land and what it will be able to do. With help from our 3GPP partners, we hope to bring some clarity with regard to its likely impact on media delivery.
Whether we talk about Netflix, Amazon Video and new enhanced service offerings from the likes of Sky or Saorview, TV over the internet is a big deal and getting bigger. So-called OTT – over-the-top delivery – is another key topic for us at the conference.
If you’re interested in the business of media delivery, check out the DVB World 2019 programme for all of this and a lot more. There’s also a pre-conference masterclass on HbbTV, a technology that enables all sort of interactive services. It’s a great opportunity to build your media technology knowledge and network right on your doorstep, before the conference goes on the road again.
Peter MacAvock is chair of the DVB Project
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