Home Analysis New DVB chair MacAvock promises active role for EBU within DVB, and...

New DVB chair MacAvock promises active role for EBU within DVB, and suggests FoBTV could harmonise UHD profiles

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Peter MacAvock, the newly-elected chairman of digital standards body DVB, has made it clear that the appointment will not diminish his current role as Head of Delivery, Platforms and Services at EBU Technology & Innovation.

“My day job is to continue doing my work in the European Broadcasting Union, where we do research and development projects, thankfully with quite a lot of reference to the DVB Project,” he told Videonet at IBC. “The background to all this – and why I’m even considering doing [the DVB job] – is because the EBU members felt it was very important to ensure that the EBU was very active within the DVB Project.”

Tightening the linkage between the EBU and the DVB is important for a number of reasons, not least because – unlike the DVB – the EBU is a member of the mobile standards body 3GPP, and is therefore involved in the next-generation 5G mobile standards development process.

MacAvock, with his EBU hat on, is on record as saying that the broadcast community “operated poorly” in the definition of the 4G standard, and clearly doesn’t want to repeat that mistake. “We have two options,” he said. “One is to sit back and wait and let somebody else tell us what 5G is – and I’m sure the telecommunications operaters would have a view of what 5G is, the broadcast operators would have a view as to what 5G is, the washing machine manufacturers would have a view as to what 5G is, and those views will all be different. [The second option is that] with my day-job hat on, the EBU will be involved in the standardization process for 5G.”

However that plays out, in the meantime DVB still has to decide how it will choose to target broadcast content at mobile devices, MacAvock said. One way was “to encourage the mobile sector to incorporate broadcast receivers into their devices.” MacAvock concedes that while there has been “some success” in this area, “these are not ubiquitous devices, far from it.”

Another was “to ensure that you can provide a mechanism for the transfer of broadcast content onto Wi-Fi networks,” so that portable devices could easily access it. MacAvock said the DVB was working “very closely with the SAT>IP group in order to facilitate that process.”

However, declared MacAvock, “the bottom line is that the core business of the broadcast community remains the large screen. […] People are watching more content on more devices, but they’re not really watching any less content on that big screen, and that’s something we have to respect. It’s all great fun talking about mobile devices, but let’s not forget where the bread and butter is.”

MacAvock is also keen for DVB to harness the energies of the Future of Broadcast Television [FoBTV] initiative, whose members bring together the equivalents of DVB in other territories around the world, including ATSC in the USA, and ARIB in Japan.

FoBTV members were due to meet at IBC to decide whether the organisation should continue in its present form, but the DVB, which is a member, was unable to confirm its status at the time of writing.

MacAvock hopes it will act as a forum where the world’s different broadcast standardisation bodies can co-ordinate their activities. Speaking at the DVB’s annual IBC press conference, he said this was “essential if you consider that the consumer electronics industry is now a global industry with the same platforms being launched in all the different territories. […] It’s very important to ensure that we maximise the efficiencies. So there is real value in co-ordinating in an environment where everybody presents their current status and we work to try and ensure that we’ll harmonise wherever possible.”

This did not mean that FoBTV should produce its own ‘global’ broadcasting standard, MacAvock emphasised, although perhaps there was room to agree on different profiles. “We know, for example, that ARIB in Japan and ATSC in the US, they are all talking about the next profiles of UHD. Wouldn’t it be great if the answer to that question was the same?”

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