Sustainability and green issues have dominated the news in 2019. At a recent event, the DPP put ethical broadcasting top of the agenda
The importance of taking an ethical approach to the creation and distribution of content was one of the main talking points at the recent DPP Tech Leaders’ Briefing.
At the event, senior figures from some of the largest broadcasters and digital platforms took turns to share their technology and business priorities.
Against a backdrop of an industry characterised by the high volume – and cost - of making and sharing content and the ensuing need to reduce complexity and find the most cost-effective way to distribute content, a raft of topics were raised, from workflow optimisation to the management of metadata to remote production.
Among the calls for tools and solutions to increase the efficiency of the production and delivery process was a common refrain: it is now of utmost importance that organisations – and their suppliers – adopt and maintain a responsible approach to doing business, with a particular focus on sustainability and the creation of a more diverse workforce.
A senior figure from one of the UK’s largest broadcasters described the broadcast and media industry as “one of the worst” when it came to sustainability, citing the shunting of kit and people around the world and the continuous cycle of building and then tearing down sets.
Speaking to the vendors in the room, they said: “The first thing we will ask is about your green credentials; you will have to show us why and how you are sustainable, otherwise it’s not going to happen.”
“We now want to take the supply community and our partners with us so that together we in the broadcast industry can be proud of leading the way in sustainability” – Andy Beale, BT Sport
BT Sport chief engineer Andy Beale compared the comments made by his fellow technology leaders to the priorities that were shared at last year’s event. He said: “Sustainability was a dominant theme last year, but I was worried that wouldn’t have been much of an evolution, but what we have seen today is a real step forward.”
He added: “We at BT Sport are doing our bit, and we are by no means perfect and we have a long way to go, but we now want to take the supply community and our partners with us so that together we in the broadcast industry can be proud of leading the way in sustainability. We need to find clever ways to use the technology that we love, to measure and manage our footprint and make sure we go about building next generation technical models in a sustainable way.”
During the event, the DPP launched its own initiative to promote environmentally sustainable practices among suppliers and content providers.
The DPP Committed to Sustainability Programme provides a self-assessment checklist that enables companies to record their progress in implementing sustainable policies and awards them a score out of five. Upon completion of the assessment entitles a company can display the Committed to Sustainability mark and publicise their engagement with the programme.
At the time, DPP managing director Mark Harrison said it would provide “a simple and effective means for all media companies to ensure they understand how they can minimise their environmental impact - and record their progress.”
The appeal of remote production was spoken about by many, with most stressing that rather than adopting it as a cost saving measure its main benefit has been to increase the range of live events a broadcaster can cover. But it also featured as a way of helping broadcasters to achieve their sustainability goals by drastically reducing the number of people required at an event, which in turn can have a positive impact on a carbon footprint.
Beale spoke about the broadcaster’s adoption of remote production. “It has made a big difference with a lot less people on the road commuting, a lot less equipment and so on. But one of the interesting problems created by remote production is that it forces people to come and work in one location, which for BT Sport is London.
However, he explained that one of the less commonly discussed side-effects of a centralised workforce could be a reduction in diversity.
“While [remote production] can solve some problems around sustainability, it can create other problems socially, making people come to an area that they may not want to work in. So I would love to understand if there are some solutions in the market that will enable us as we build remote production systems of the future to offer much wider network collaborative working which doesn’t impinge in any way on the high editorial and technical standards that we want to deliver as a broadcaster.”
Encouraging diversity was an issue that was also raised by DAZN chief technology officer Florian Diederichsen.
He said: “Diversity is not just men and women, it is a lot of things; creed, colour, it’s everything.”
In reference to the sport streaming platform’s recently opened Amsterdam development centre, he said there are “only 16% women in there and 12% overall in tech workforce, and that’s sad really.” And while he said it was an issue that DAZN was actively addressing, he said it was tough issue to resolve. “Everybody in the room, please help with this; look at your teams and your outreach – if you have a more diverse workforce you will love the results.”
Copa90 chief product officer Barry Flanigan also issued a call to action during the event. He told delegates about Copa90’s Creator Network, which he described as “the fan engine at the heart of the content we produce” with “the goal to empower a generation of young fans to tell their stories on Copa90.”
Creator Network now includes 4,000 creators across 140 countries creating range of content from docs of football in Syria to takeover of Instagram account during the Champions League to bring to life what feels like from a fan perspective.
“There are many non-profit organisations doing brilliant work with young people that would welcome the help of people in this room.” Barry Flanigan, Copa90
“There is a broader point for the industry beyond Copa90 with this type of model. We should be encouraging young, up and coming talent into the industry but we still have a diversity challenge in terms of bringing people from all backgrounds into the content and media sectors. What initiatives like this help us do is break down some of the barriers for getting into content creation. I would encourage everybody here to think about how they can get involved in initiatives like this.
”It could be creating your own version of a creator community, sponsoring initiatives, lending training or equipment – there are many non-profit organisations doing brilliant work with young people that would welcome the help of people in this room.”