Broadcast Engineering Conference Embraces iT

Skip Pizzi and Lynn Claudy

Information technology is fundamentally changing how broadcast engineers do their jobs. In fact, IT is redefining the meaning, nature and infrastructure of broadcasting itself.

This fact explains why the National Association of Broadcasters is embracing IT education, reflected in the annual Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC) being renamed the “Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference” (BEITC).

“The name change is really just formalizing what has been happening to the job description of the broadcast engineer over the past several years,” said Lynn D. Claudy, senior vice president of technology for NAB. “Pretty much every broadcast system has a strong IT component now. So in renaming the conference to the Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference, it’s the word ‘and’ that is the most important; connecting the historical core expertise in broadcast engineering with the newer imperative of IT competence.”

“Although our conference programming has reflected a multi-disciplinary broadcast/ IT approach for some time, we felt it made sense to attest to this in the actual name of the conference going forward,” said Skip Pizzi, vice president of technology education and outreach for NAB. Pizzi is coordinating the technical education and showcase programs at NAB Show. They include the BEITC, technical Super Sessions and the Futures Park powered by PILOT, NAB’s technology incubator program.

EMERGING TRENDS

The tightening interplay between broadcast engineering and information technology is certainly reflected in the 2017 BEITC’s topic lineup. This is in line with the convergence of broadcasting and IT that is occurring in the real world.

“As broadcasters move into streaming, over-the-top offerings, social media sites and other IP delivery platforms, we need to adapt our representation efforts to address those new business models as well as the traditional broadcast spectrum-based distribution path,” said Claudy. “We’ve definitely expanded our view of what it means to be a broadcaster.”

So what’s hot?

“If I had to pick some top 2017 BEITC themes, I’d say Next Gen TV — including ATSC 3.0 and Ultra HD — along with con- version to IP workflows, and cybersecurity,” said Pizzi. “Also of high interest on this year’s program are advanced newsgathering technologies, OTT, and evolving broadcast facility design.”

As always, the educational goals of the annual BEITC are highly ambitious. But they have to be if NAB Show is to provide its broadcast engineer attendees with the fast-track, high-level knowledge they require to stay abreast of new and emerging technology.

“Next Gen TV is upon us, and over the next few years our services and the facilities in which they are produced and delivered will change to accommodate it,” said Pizzi. “Part of that transition will include Ultra HD video, immersive and personalizable audio, and new levels of audience interaction — all on an increasingly IP-based core.

“Security of these facilities has also never been more important,” he continued. “A new regulatory environment for TV services in the U.S. may also be emerging, along with the already burgeoning marketplace of new competitors. The 2017 BEITC will address all of these topics, presented by the world’s top experts, in a single conference like no other.”

“We’d like every BEITC attendee to leave Las Vegas knowing more than they did when they arrived, hopefully in numerous areas,” said Pizzi. “We also hope those BEITC attendees who are affected by the repack will come away a bit better prepared for it.”

To help lock in this knowledge or for access to papers that attendees might miss when presented during the 2017 BEITC, proceedings will be made available on a USB drive offered at the convention in the NAB Store.

Taking a “big picture” view, “We hope BEITC attendees leave Las Vegas with some expanded knowledge and an expanded net- work of contacts and information resources,” said Lynn Claudy. “We also hope they internalize an expanded appreciation for the value of in-person meetings with colleagues and friends.”