The Abu Dhabi Media Summit turned its attention squarely on the broadcast sector during day two of the event, with key discussions during the day focusing on the fate of television in a connected world, the future of cinema and the impact of piracy on the industry.
IMAX Corporation CEO Richard Gelfond delivered the keynote speech of the afternoon “The Next Big Thing for Big Screens”. Gelfond highlighted the rising dominance of the Chinese and Indian entertainment industries, which he said was eroding the American monopoly on big screen movie production.
For worldwide consumers, the quality and variety of their movie experience could only improve, as Hollywood faces increased competition from new foreign movie imports. In the new global movie market, the MENA region could offer a lot to international film makers as a business-supportive environment and by way of infrastructure.
“Those who wish to succeed in the new world order must understand that the world has changed. Because of the fact that every new film is a start-up, those countries that can best encourage new projects will have an advantage”, said Gelfond.
Mansoor Khan, the director of MENA and South Asia at Kanter Media, however, sought to pivot the discussion back to TV and put the small screen front and centre when he told the audience that “television remained the ‘super-medium’ around which all others revolve”.
Panellists participating in the session “Re-imaging Television – from Social to Second Screen” agreed that television remains a strong medium, with TV networks adapting well to changes in the media landscape to provide content through a new range of platforms.
Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia said that “the availability of new platforms means there is more emphasis on interactivity. The result is that we talk in terms of consumers rather than viewers these days”. Ralph Rivera, Director of Future Media at the BBC, said the BBC’s approach to the 2012 Olympics was “based on a promise that the consumers ‘never miss a moment’ – a strategy that required the full range of platforms to bring every detail of the event to consumers”.
In all of Digital Broadcast Middle East’s discussions with broadcast executives, piracy is always highlighted as the seminal challenge in this region. During the Sky News Arabia session on digital piracy, moderated by the channel’s news anchor, Assad Sawey, three industry experts tackled this increasing illegal business and ways to combat it. What emerged was that the anti-piracy measures of today are redundant by tomorrow.
“Although the UAE authorities have shown leadership in tackling the piracy problem, stopping media pirates will always be a game of cat and mouse as technology advances,” said Greg Sweeting, chief legal officer of the Media Zone Authority, Abu Dhabi – twofour54.
Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group, pointed out that 10% of media channels in the Middle East provide pirated content by downloading recently released material and broadcasting it through satellite TV channels.