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The AIBs and the Rise of International Broadcasting

It wasn’t long ago that the large majority of broadcasters were confined to a national audience. Back in 1993, when the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) was founded, the only international reach was through radio. There was no Internet as we know it and IP technology was not yet integral to the industry.

“Back then, international broadcasters were fairly unloved within their own national parent organization, always starved of money and facing different issues to the national broadcast,” says Tom Wragg, Business Development Director at AIB.”

“They wanted an association that could lobby on their behalf and help them with information services, so service radio operations like BBC World Service and Voice of America came together and formed the AIB.”

Today, the AIB is still the only global trade association for people who broadcast across international boundaries, but they no longer represent the “unloved” minority. With IP technology advancement, most broadcasters are international — even if it’s only within their own diaspora — and international broadcasting has gone from the reach of a few radio stations to the primary producer of global news and entertainment.

Signiant’s solutions have been a key driver in the evolution of international broadcasting, enabling efficient transfer of media files around the world, between people, systems and the cloud. As such, we have a real affinity for people who continue to work in places other than major Western urban centers.

Especially in today’s world, we believe it is ever more important for factual stories from around the world to get the broadest possible exposure. That’s why we’re excited to once again sponsor the AIBs.

The AIBs 2018 International Awards

The AIBs are “the international awards for factual video, audio and interactive productions,” according to their website. 2018 marks the 14th year of these independent, influential and respected awards, which will take place on November 7th in London.

Signiant has sponsored the AIBs for the last three years and, as one of the few technology company sponsors, we have appreciated the opportunity to get to know the people who make this industry possible and the work they care about. The event itself is unique. With a breadth of programming awarded and displayed from unexpected regions that range from heart wrenching to hilarious, it’s easy to understand why the AIBs have become so popular.

“One of the big issues that has always existed is the inevitable bias within national awards. You’ve got set players, the big networks and affiliate chains, who are usually involved in the awards directly. In those awards, there are not many surprises.”

“But the international marketplace is changing. Independent small production units are growing in number and interacting more internationally, even though the big players are consolidating at the top,” says Wragg.

“Winners of the AIBs come from everywhere. It doesn’t matter what language they’re in, it doesn’t matter the budget or the scale or the audience size. They’re judged purely on the quality of the programming. And they’ve become very popular because they give that level playing field between all types of broadcasters.”

The Sustainability Awards

November 7th is actually the second part of this year’s AIBs, which also included a new awards event held in Taipei in early October. The Association for International Broadcasting Asia-Pacific Sustainability Awards were sponsored by Radio Taiwan International, marking the 90th anniversary of their AIB membership. Those awards recognized the best radio and television coverage of sustainability issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

“As the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals mark their third anniversary, the AIB wanted to demonstrate the importance of the media in ensuring that facts and events relating to these challenges reach global audiences,” said Simon Spanswick, chief executive of the AIB.

“We were delighted to see a wide range of entries from broadcasters within and outside the region, showing that relevant stories about the Asia-Pacific region and the challenges it faces are receiving the attention they deserve.”

Sustainability is a central concern of many AIB members, attested to by the special awards event and a newly formed sustainability Working Group, which will address how international broadcasters can support the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Working Groups are developed by AIB to address the concerns of their members and provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and expertise. Other recently established Working Groups cover cyber security, audience research, and international regulatory and legal affairs.

UN sustainable development goals

Reflecting a Global Concern

Signiant is proud to be part of an industry with global reach and global concern, and the AIBs are a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see those concerns awarded.

“Reaching an international audience requires a level of concern beyond your own borders,” says Wragg. “Some of the best programming produced by our members reflects that concern.”

The Shortlist for the AIBs has already been released. We’re looking forwards to seeing the awards announced and getting a chance to rub shoulders with all the people who make international programming happen.