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CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati calls upon Asia-Pacific broadcast community to lead standardization efforts towards digital innovation

Prasar Bharati CEO and ABU Vice President Shashi Shekhar Vempati on Monday, March 21, 2022, addressed the opening session of the ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium 2022. During his address, the Prasar Bharati CEO called on the Asia-Pacific broadcast community to lead standardization efforts towards digital innovation.

CEO Vempati stressed that the role of a public broadcaster becomes immensely important, especially in a time of crisis. “The crisis has brought to the fore importance of traditional broadcasting even as we digitally innovate to meet diverse audience needs through new tools, tech & algorithms,” he said.

Importance of Public Broadcasting
Speaking on the importance of public broadcasters and broadcasting, CEO Vempati said that during the pandemic, it was the public broadcasters and broadcasting that worked round the clock to get critical information to citizens across countries to inform them how to cope with the pandemic and the lockdown.

He also added that the public broadcaster had a huge role to play in the context of education, especially to keep education going for children whose schools were being shut. During the coronavirus pandemic, Prasar Bharati repurposed its channels to be of use to students who were confined at homes when schools were closed as a precautionary measure.

Further, more than 20 TV channels of Doordarshan which runs general entertainment and news throughout the day, repurposed themselves, making it fit for students across the country. Moreover, the public service broadcaster has over 50 dedicated channels for education.

”During the pandemic and now during the conflict, we are seeing how important is a shortwave mode of communication. One that was forgotten has suddenly become important as internet platforms are blocked, critical broadcast infrastructure is targeted, and once again old broadcasting methods are taking centre stage,” CEO Vempati said.

Digital is here to stay
Continuing further, the ABU Vice President added that digital is not going away and is fast innovating. If terrestrial infrastructure is targeted, you have satellite-based internet options.

Similarly, with a new set of tools and technology which are enriching the way information is being presented. For instance, we are seeing satellite maps in real-time to present what is happening now on the ground, geo-tagging and verifying their authenticity, and more, especially when there is a vast amount of misinformation.

New digital tools
Presenting authentic data of their choice to the audience requires the use of new tools which traditional broadcasters were not familiar with. This has given birth to new-age digital start-ups which are creating content of immense use to broadcasters across the world. “While traditional broadcasting is continuing to be important, especially during a crisis, it has become far more interactive, far more intelligent and far more enriched with all the new technologies, tools, and platforms,” CEO Vempati was quoted as saying.

Future ahead
The future lies at the intersection of traditional broadcasting, digital technologies, the internet, artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms, and all sorts of new-age tools for augmented reality, virtual reality generating high-end graphics,” said the Prasar Bharati CEO on the future road ahead.

The audience wants to be a part of the story, and for the audiences to become a part of the story, storytelling needs to be far more personalized, interactive, and immersive, he added further.

Direct-To-Mobile Broadcasting
Prasar Bharti is working on direct-to-mobile broadcasting where the broadcaster has envisioned broadcast signals being delivered directly to smartphones and tablets and other smart devices with embedded chipsets. CEO Vempati said that this would open up a whole new class of broadcasting services where one can scale infinitely, take advantage of the broadcast infrastructure.

He also added that there is also internet-based app-based interactivity intelligence and the public broadcaster is actively working to integrate both into a smartphone and trying to innovate. For this, it has collaborated with IIT Kanpur and Standards Bodies, TSDSI (Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India), and Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). NewsOnAir

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