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Fri 5 Feb 2010 04:00 AM

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Local broadcasters must invest in skills

In 2009, a number of broadcasters invested in OB vans and other state-of-the-art technology.

In 2009, a number of broadcasters invested in OB vans and other state-of-the-art technology.

While it is rewarding to see that media organisations in the Middle East are now acquiring state-of-the-art solutions to cover live sport and other events in the region, it is also simultaneously disconcerting to note that we do not have the skills locally to get the best out of these solutions.

Even some of the biggest operators who profess to cover live sport and market their OB vans to the region rely heavily on outsourced operators, directors and producers to run the show. That is a shame. It is imperative that we have trained operators available locally to service the OB industry. International crew cost a fortune as we don't just pay for their skills but for the entire logistics of bringing them to the country as well.

Presently, we have a few leading manufacturers who host training programmes at their facilities. While these programmes are effective in training local operators, training is limited to the solutions of the manufacturer.

Likewise, in most academic institutions, systems integrators are guilty of primarily deploying solutions for which they are local distributors. Few institutions have technical heads that are savvy and are able to make informed decisions.

We see very few systems integrators who objectively review the requirements of an academic institution and cater to them accordingly. The same is true for many so-called training centres in the Middle East that are essentially also distributors for specific manufacturers. Students' training is restricted to those specific solutions.

Ideally, students should be able to train on a range of systems and solutions within a learning environment. Only exposure to a range of industry standard solutions will enable them to make informed decisions about choosing the technology that works best for the application on which they are working.

This should be the next step of investment for media organisations and authorities. No effort must be spared to ensure that students can shadow international producers and directors on live sport productions. More importantly, this training should be given to students on the basis of merit.

Unless efforts are taken to train those who are seriously self motivated and have the initiative to pursue such options as a serious career move, any investment and effort on this front will be a waste. At the end of the day, the availability of locally skilled people is key and efforts in this direction must be well-guided to ensure success.

Vijaya Cherian is the editor of Digital Studio.

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