Saturday, November 18, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | CASBAA 2006 | Review

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia presents an in-house review of CASBAA Convention 2006

The four-day CASBAA Convention 2006, labeled as “From Bandwidth to Brandwidth”, drew more than 1,500 attendees from over 30 countries. The CASBAA Convention, October 24-27 debated major issues such as the monetisation of newly-available communications bandwidth; the way to attract new investment to communications infrastructure and the provision of video value to customers.

Michael Fries, CEO of Liberty Global was the keynote speaker. He stressed that the future of pay-TV revenues and delivery is ‘”all about capacity” and listed "Seven Basic Truths" for the pay-TV industry:

* 1) The pay-TV market is not moving as fast among consumers as many media professionals believe;

* 2) Technology remains ahead of consumer demand;

* 3) As service providers push network speed as a selling point, applications must catch up;

* 4) Managed services will prevail with a "flight to quality"; 5) Interoperability will become the equivalent of McDonalds’ “secret sauce”;

* 6) The power of bundling remains, allowing customers to navigate in an increasingly complex market; and

* 7) “Consumers need help” and no-one should be left behind in the rush into new technology.

On investments, CASBAA delegates heard from Gabby Lopez, the chairman and CEO of ABS-CBN Broadcasting, the largest broadcaster in the Philippines, Remi Hinduja, the chairman of Indian communications conglomerate Hinduja TMT and John Kwun, MD, Carlyle Group, which recently invested US$1.5 billion in Taiwan cable operator EMC.

John Kwun made a simple point: “We invest in telecoms and media companies because of the steadiness of the cash flow, the defensibility of the market positions that the companies are in and the exciting growth prospects with new technologies and services that are being introduced."

On Mobile TV, numerous experts gave their insights on the delivery of content via mobile TV. Delegates were undecided on the viability of Mobile TV. Casey Harwood, SVP, Digital Media at Turner Europe, was firmly bullish: “There is a demand for small screen TV - people just don't know it yet," he said.

The other dominant technology topic was IPTV, and yet to mature in many markets. A technology panel concluded that technical issues such as the bandwidth required for optimum quality video delivery via the Internet may take another five years to resolve.

Pay-TV piracy in the Asia Pacific co-presented by CASBAA and Standard Chartered Bank confirmed that signal theft remains a huge problem. The joint CASBAA/SCB study estimated that pay-TV piracy cost the industry US$1.13 billion this year, compared to US$1.06 billion in 2005, with illegal connections reaching 5.2 million across the reguion.

Other highlights of the Convention included the CASBAA Technology Showcase 2006, The Sun Mobile Forum, CASBAA China Forum, CASBAA India Forum and Targeting Japan, with additional keynote addresses and “in Conversations” with Louise Sams, President, Turner Broadcasting System International; Kip Meek, Chief Policy Partner of Ofcom & President of the European Regulators Group (2006); Huang Wei, CTO, Hunan TV and Irwin Gotlieb, the Global CEO of GroupM.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia will leave for others to write about the "Awards" at CASBAA 2006, a mutual back slapping affair with no true meaning, except self gratification.

We also believe that not enough "Asian" Executives were asked to present speeches to delegates.

Korea leads in broadband delivery worldwide. Where were they represented in a meaningful way? This is after all Asia. Caucasians always see themselves as the leaders. Until the top heavy Caucasian leadership in CASBAA gives way to a more balanced representation, the organisation will fail at the political obstacles in the region.

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