Skills shortage shackling industry potential: CTOs

One of 'greatest challenges' facing the industry, claim experts.

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A serious skills shortage is one of the greatest challenges facing the region’s broadcast industry, according to some of the world’s leading broadcast industry technology experts.

The issue was discussed by panelists and audience members during a conference discussion held in conjunction with the CABSAT MENA exhibition entitled ‘technology uptake in challenging times’.
 
The discussion explored the major issues facing the region’s broadcast industry during the global economic downturn.
 
Six leading local and international broadcast technology experts acted as panelists during the discussion, and fielded questions from participants.
 
Addressing a skills shortage in the local broadcast industry, continuing investment and increasing efficiency during the economic downturn were the major topics of discussion.
 
“The lack of available training opportunities is something that broadcast industry professionals must address,” commented Hassan Sayed Hasan, head of media technology at TwoFour54.
 
Participants also commented that while measures are being taken to address this issue there is a lot more that can be done to provide tuition and attract qualified technical staff in the Middle East.  
 
Experts also said that adaptability was a must for broadcasters, given the industry’s rapid rate of development.
 
“Technology in broadcasting now is all about change management,” declared Roger Stanwell, CEO of the International Association for Broadcasting.
 
“Traditionally, it was about reliability, and not historically a very dynamic market,” he said.
 
“But this has changed with the advent of pay TV, changing consumer attitudes and new technologies.”
 
The growing expectation of technologists to increase their business sense and become more versatile employees during the current economic climate was another issue mentioned during the discussion. 
 
“As technologists, it is difficult for us to present a good business case as to why your company should invest when there are restrictions on spending,” said Mike Whittaker, VP of broadcast operations and technology at Showtime Arabia. 
 
“But on the other hand, it is also important to invest during the downturn or you will be caught out during the upturn,” he added.
 
Investment in new technology was another popular topic during the discussion.
 
“We have to go into this uncertain era thinking about how we can maintain our business,” said Sharad Sadhu, technical director of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union.
 
“I think investment in software will increase tremendously this year,” he predicted.
 
“Broadcasters won’t be looking to upgrade to HD or get a big flashy OB van and show it to the media in 2009, because this won’t sustain their business.”
 
He also said that new prospects in Asia should be examined by broadcasters, with an eye to reducing costs.
 
“Maybe we need to look to the East in order to find new, cheaper technology and applications, because I think in the Middle East, we often look to the West.”

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