Wednesday, 7 October 2009

AIBs 2009 - the celebration gets closer

The 2009 AIBs - the fifth annual celebration of excellence in TV, radio and cross-media broadcasting - draw ever closer.

With a great number of entries this year, our short-listing team worked overtime to assess which of the tremendous breadth and depth of entries should go forward to our international judging panel. Now it's up to some key people in countries as diverse as Finland, Australia, Ghana, the USA, South Africa, Germany, the UAE and the UK to decide which productions deserve the ultimate accolade from the AIB.

This year our awards evening takes place on 4 November and we're guaranteed a great turnout with people travelling from all over the world to join our annual Awards event. Have you booked your places yet? Go online at and reserve your seats for a fabulous dinner and great networking.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Awards shortlisting

We've been hard at work over the past few weeks devising the short-list for the 2009 AIBs - the international media excellence awards.

The AIBs are a celebration of the very best programming across news, current affairs, features, and specialist genres, particularly focusing on programmes that work across borders.

We've had a great crop of entries this year - slightly down on last year's record figure - but still a great number from broadcasters and production houses throughout the world - more than 30 countries are represented in this completely non-commercial competition.

The award entries are now on their way to our international judging panel - our judges are spread throughout the world to ensure that we gain a range of perspectives on the programmes submitted. From Pakistan to Ghana, South Africa to Germany, our judges will look at and listen to the work submitted and send their results and comments to us in time for the awards to be made, ready for presentation on 4 November at LSO St Luke's in London.

Join us there - you can book your place online at - but don't delay as last year's Awards was a sell-out and we had to turn people away (that's happened two year's running now - and this is only year five of the AIBs!).

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Sourcebook gets bigger

AIB is in touch with more than 25,000 people in the world's electronic media industry and for some years we have been helping others in the industry to find out who's who by publishing a directory of broadcasting.

From small beginnings in the early part of the century, the AIB directory is now a comprehensive guide to the world's media - and the new edition is in the final stages of preparation. We've rebranded this year's directory as the Global Broadcasting Sourcebook and it will be available from the beginning of September in both print and PDF formats.

We're working in partnership with colleagues at Broadband TV News to compile this year's Sourcebook, with a great deal of new information about cable, satellite and IPTV to augment the already extensive data about broadcasters in territories throughout the world.

More than 8,000 contacts will appear in the Sourcebook, each one checked by the research team at the AIB's headquarters and our colleagues at BTN. We're also including analysis of selected markets, and background information that will be of use to people needing to know about broadcasting in different markets.

So whether it's information about Lao National TV (yes, we're in touch with executives in that organisation) or Deutsche Welle, TV2 in Denmark or Fastweb in Italy (yes, we know people in those companies) that you need, this Sourcebook is for you.

The new Sourcebook will be distributed free-of-charge to members of the AIB as part of their membership benefits. People outside the AIB membership can order their copy online here.

Monday, 27 July 2009

AIBs go up a gear

The 2009 AIBs officially close for entries on Friday but it seems that we'll have to extend the deadline by a few days. That's because the phone's ringing off the hook at AIB headquarters with broadcasters from all over the world pleading for a few more days in which to get us their work.

We're happy to oblige, even if it means we're going to be up against it, time-wise, when it comes to shortlisting. However, we'll manage and the international panel of judges will get plenty of time to evaluate the shortlisted entries and decide which entries are worthy of a 2009 AIB.

With material from RTHK, the UK's Channel 4, independent producers in the Middle East, RFE/RL, NDTV, Russia Today, 6 News, Belsat and many more, this competition will once again celebrate success in broadcasting all over the world.

Want to enter your material? You still can - check out the awards details at and then let us know if you can't make Friday's deadline. We'll do our best to accommodate you, provided you don't need a whole month to compile your entry!

Monday, 22 June 2009

AIB searching for the best

It's that time of year again when the AIB headquarters is inundated with courier deliveries from all over the world - all entries for the annual AIBs, our international media excellence awards.

The AIB launched the AIBs five years ago at the request of its members and the competition has grown significantly to be an important highlight in the international media industry's calendar.

The reason for the acceptance and success of the AIBs is, I believe, down to the fact that they are a real, independently-judged, truly international competition that celebrates the best talent, programme-making, news coverage, and documentary-making in the world. We're not restricted to entries in English - after all, 90% of the world's population doesn't have English as a first language. We're non-commercial: although we have sponsors who support the competition, they have no influence over the results. We look at both cross-border and domestic productions, enabling practitioners in the industry to see why it's important to have the ability to contrast and compare programmes made in different parts of the world for different audiences.

As I travel the world, I've met a whole range of inspiring people in broadcasting and the wider media industry and I know that there's much work out there that cries out for recognition but is often not highlighted to the rest of the industry. That's what the 2009 AIBs will be trying to correct.

So, look out your best work and submit it to the 2009 AIBs - more at And see you in London on 4 November for our gala celebration evening!

Friday, 19 June 2009

International broadcasting essential in Iran

The events of the past few days in Iran have demonstrated the essential need for international broadcasting. The newly-launched BBC Persian TV service, and longer-established VoA TV in Persian, have been key to ensuring the flow of information about events in Iran to people living there while domestic media - IRIB - has been reporting very little about developments.

What's interesting is that Press TV - the English-language TV news channel operated by Iran - has been somewhat more free in its coverage of events, reporting things that IRIB's domestic broadcaster has simply ignored. Press TV is located in a different building several kilometers from IRIB's compound in Tehran (where I was prohibited from taking a photo of a flagpole on my last visit there!) and has some level of autonomy.

Radio remains important, with Radio Farda (part of RFE/RL), DW Persian and others all broadcasting to Iran and maintaining the flow of news and information.

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all come into their own during the week, and are likely to remain crucial as events develop in Iran.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Cannes...miserable weather, miserable numbers

The weather does not help lift spirits here at MIP TV with rain tumbling from leaden skies. Inside, I have seen many stands which have been deserted by their owners. Some I have talked to say that despite having booked meetings over the past few weeks, many people have cancelled as they are simply not coming to this year`s programme market.

It is becoming a market of ad hoc meetings - of course, that has always been the case but now it is more the norm than ever before.

However, the conference has been interesting. This morning the keynotes from Niklas Savander of Nokia and Jeffrey Cole of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future were inspiring. Cole provided a whole range of new examples of how TV is changing for the future - something I will analyse for AIB members next week.

I am starting to spread the word about the 2009 AIB Media Excellence Awards - the AIBs. Getting good feedback from a number of broadcasters and production companies. Not the case with TRT, however, which has a big stand but no one seems to understand about entering programmes they have made into international competitions. Draw your own conclusions.

Now I have to go and brave the weather (and avoid the numerous umbrella sellers outside the Palais) and go and meet Middle East media executives on the Syrian stand.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

China wants to embace you

That is the message from Tian Jin, Vice Minister at Chinese media regulator, SARFT. Speaking at MIPTV in Cannes today, Mr Tian said that working with other organisations around the world is key to success for Chinese TV and radio, while ¨respecting differences¨.

At a special session on China, a range of speakers looked at the opportunities and the challenges of working in TV co-production with Chinese media houses. Brian Leith, Executive Producer at the BBC Natural History Unit that co-produced ¨Wild China¨with CCTV, said that it is not easy - particularly if you want to film in 26 Chinese provinces - covering an area the size of Europe. Only by having completely bi-lingual researchers and highly effective local fixers was it possible to carry out more than 50 shoots in high definition, some lasting six weeks.

David Haslingden, CEO of NGCI and Fox International Channels, said that for commercial companies like his, it is important to consider how to derive revenue from co-productions. Working in China is difficult, he said, but by no means insurmountable.

What else is happening at MIP, I hear you ask. Well, the weather continues to be mixed and the aisles less full than in the last couple of years. However I have been having some great conversations with AIB members and with others here in Cannes - conversations that will most certainly be continuing over the next few weeks, resulting in some new initiatives and co-operative agreements.

Monday, 30 March 2009

MIPTV underway - 20% down?

I arrived in Cannes this morning after a rather delayed flight from the UK on Easyjet...and found that the weather's worse here than in England, which is something of a surprise!

What's not surprising is the fact that - according to some estimates - MIPTV has 20% less exhibitors than last year. Given the space given over to Internet access points for visitors, and simple blank spaces in the aisles where previously there would have been exhibition booths, I'm inclined to think that the estimate of the downturn is reasonably accurate. It's going to be interesting to see what figures the organisers provide.

Meanwhile, I've been meeting AIB members here who include France 24, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera and Bloomberg. I've also been talking to companies interested in the AIB's range of activities, including NHK World, Mobiclip and AFP. I've also been spreading the word about the 2009 AIBs - our Media Excellence Awards which we'll announce formally in mid-April.

What I find surprising here is that some companies simply don't seem to know how to sell - their stands are dark, staffed by unenthusiastic people who seem to have little interest in their product. All right - these are in the minority, but even so it's disheartening.

I'll update you some more during the week.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Al Jazeera Forum underway in Doha

I'm in Doha at the moment for the fourth Al Jazeera Forum - an invitation-only meeting of academics, journalists and observers from the Middle East and around the world. Delegates here from the US, UK, Malaysia, a raft of North African countries and a good many other places.

Wadah Khanfar has opened the event, and the keynote speaker was Seymour Hersh. Should be an interesting couple of days - more follows!

In the meantime, I thought I'd pass on a Blackberry tip - if you use your Crackberry for web browsing, ditch the bundled browser and download Opera Mini. I did this while my BA flight to Doha was on the ground in Bahrain and have been using it ever since. I have to say it's a revelation with pages rendered far more rapidly and far easier navigation. Just one grumble - for some reason I can't get the "update" button on Twitter to work when using Opera Mini, although Blackberry's own browser carries out this function OK. Strange...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

AIB working hard

It's a busy time at the AIB as we follow up on a range of work for our members throughout the world. 

As my blog on Monday reported, I've been at the FT Digital Media conference in London where I had some interesting and informative discussions with a number of people. On Friday, it's off to Doha for the fourth Al Jazeera Forum. 

In the meantime, the AIB is following up on a number of discussions that started at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. For example, we're in discussion with a company that has got mobile TV content distribution agreements in place in a large number of countries in Asia. I'm going to see how we can get our members' content onto this new platform as it comes online in the coming weeks in emerging markets. 

We're also hard at work on the research of the new AIB directory - now renamed as the AIB Global Broadcasting Sourcebook. This new sourcebook has completely revised and updated content, plus a whole lot of context to make it an indispensible guide to media worldwide. OK - a plug: you can book an enhanced entry for your company or take advertising in the sourcebook. Download the media pack here and talk to us soon!

Monday, 9 March 2009

It's all about social

Today I'm at the FT Digital Media and Broadcasting conference in London - and much of the discussion has been on the subject of social networking.

Blake Chandlee of Facebook has told the audience of a couple of hundred people that the social networking site now has 175million users and theyKve had to change subscriber reporting increments to 25million!

There's been lots of talk about how media and social networking can work together - and this is something the AIB will be reporting to and analysing for its members shortly.

Meanwhile it's good to see a range of AIB friends here such as Richard Titus and Madhav Chinnappa of the BBC, John Mangelaars from Microsoft and Raja Sharif of Barwa Media, among others.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Good mobile and broadcasting session

This afternoon I've had the privilege to chair the broadcasting session at Mobile World C0ngress in Barcelona. The session's title was Mobile’s role in the changing face of broadcast’. I said in my introduction that I wasn't convinced that the title is correct - perhaps it should have been called broadcasting’s role in the changing face of mobile as mobile is definitely changing from a voice-only proposition to one that encompasses many more facets from music to gaming to broadcast content.

I had a great line-up of speakers including Sean Kane from Bebo, Richard Titus from the BBC, Jonathan Marks of Critical Distance, Michel Mol of Netherlands Public Broadcasting and Stanislas Leridon from France 24. They explained their organisation's work in the mobile field, and some mentioned the difficulty in engaging with mobile operators - something that a good number of AIB members have mentioned to me. Indeed, Michel Mol said that it was only after a mobile operator was "named and shamed" on national TV that it came to the table and started talking to NPO!

France 24's new iPhone application - the first by an international news channel - has had more than 100,000 downloads in its first few days said Stan Leridon, making it one of the top ten iPhone apps. Quite amazing and something I understand that the BBC's Global News division is taken aback by, wondering why it wasn't first in this arena.

Good debate, so thanks to all my speakers and to the GSM Association for letting broadcasting into the mobile all we need is for operators to engage with broadcasters!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Barcelona leads

Here in Barcelona it's been chillier than in previous years during Mobile World Congress. However, in the conference and exhibition the temperature has been hotting up with some of the AIB's contacts talking of the best event ever for deals.

That's good news and certainly the AIB has enjoyed getting a whole raft of leads of people and organisations that are interested in what our membership does and in getting involved with the AIB's events, such as the 2009 AIB Media Excellence Awards - the AIBs. 

We'll be following up on those over the coming few days and look forward to working with more companies in the mobile industry during the year. 

Now it's time for me to work on the mobile and broadcast session that I'm chairing here on Thursday...

Monday, 16 February 2009

Not much of a recession in mobile

Judging by the flight traffic into Barcelona over the weekend, and the proportion of BA planes given over to business class (more than 50% on the flight I took out of London Gatwick on Sunday), the recession has passed the mobile industry by.

Lots of activity here in Barcelona as Mobile World Congress gets underway this Monday morning, although the queues to get into the Fira weren't as bad as last year.

Good to see that AIB member France 24 is here, on a corner of the Actimagine stand in hall 2. Vizrt is also here, in hall 7 and DW on the NRW stand in hall 2.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Looking forward to the warmer climate of Catalonia

It has been a manic week for me, trying to prepare for Mobile World Congress while at the same time managing the start of the building project that will see the AIB's offices in Kent increased to deal with the burgeoning amount of work we have! Standing in the snow and ice this morning talking with the builder caused my bones to the thought of a few days in Barcelona has become more appealing!

Meanwhile, it's been a nightmare trying to get to talk to the speakers on the panel I'm chairing with phone conference call systems not doing what they're supposed to. However, I'm slowly making headway and there'll be a cracking panel on Thursday afternoon. It's already being reported in 'The Hollywood Reporter' and in the US edition of 'Media Week'. My hope is that the mobile operators catch on to the fact the content owners and broadcasters want to engage with them - although judging by the responses to my requests for appointments (mostly met with an icy silence that matches the weather here in the UK) , I don't think that the message has got through. Come on Orange, come on Vodafone - open your doors to an opportunity!

It's more nimble companies that will steal a march on the big guns - people who understand the market and understand the drivers for getting content onto mobile. I've been impressed by a new kid on the block with which the AIB is just starting a coherent conversation: Swanbay. We're talking to them over the next few days, and I think it will be something that the AIB's members will benefit from. 

More from Barcelona in the next few days. And mobile operators - you can find me in Barcelona and contact details are on the AIB website!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Barcelona beckons

I'm busily preparing for Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona between 16 and 19 February. It's organised by the GSM Association that represents the world's mobile operators and it's a colossal event. 

I've been involved already as one of the judges of the Mobile Awards (being presented on Tuesday night) and as moderator of the panel examining synergies between broadcasting and mobile (and boy, there's lots of opportunity there). 

AIB will be at MWC in force, helping AIB members to get connected to the people they need to talk to - people searching for content, for example. There's lots to see and do, and lots of people from all over the planet with whom to start interesting conversations.

See you there?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow disrupts the web

In the UK over the past few days we've had what the media has described as the worst snowfall in 18 years. As a result, large swathes of the country have been brought to a near standstill and here in rural Kent (south-east of London) we've suffered from a complete collapse of the rail network with no trains at all running on Monday into London, and a restricted service the following day. 

At the same time, schools have been closed as teachers have been unable to get into work and of course there's a health and safety risk associated with snow in playgrounds. Unbelievable, but true - mind you, I can remember trudging to school in the snow and enjoying it in my childhood...but then the world's changed lots since then.

But what was quite amazing was the failure of the UK's websites to cope with a huge increase in demand for information. The BBC's site collapsed under pressure of users seeking travel, weather and school closure information. South Eastern Railway's site displayed an error message saying their servers couldn't cope with the snow...sorry, demand. 

What does this mean for web-delivered TV services, I wonder. Something the AIB will be investigating and reporting on to members in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, where's my snow shovel?