Comcast’s Mark Coleman, CBS’s Robert Ross and NBC’s Glenn Reitmeier said that broadcasters might ultimately pay the price for cutting spending on equipment if manufacturers cut back or stop producing such gear or eliminate customer service.
Cutbacks that television stations are making in response to the recession could have long-term effects on the business, especially when it comes to available equipment and relationships with suppliers, a panel of industry executives said Wednesday.
Speaking at the HD World conference in New York, experts in TV technology and operations — Comcast’s Mark Coleman, CBS’s Robert Ross and NBC’s Glenn Reitmeier — agreed that broadcasters might ultimately pay the price for cutting recent spending with manufacturers of essential equipment, like cameras.
That, they said, is because manufactures of high-end systems and equipments may reduce — or stop altogether — producing high-end equipment if broadcasters keep cutting costs by buying lesser quality goods for the foreseeable future.
That could have two negative effects on broadcasters, they claimed. Not only could broadcasters lose access to high-end equipment when they are ready to buy again, but they also could lose the customer service and care of the suppliers that sell it, they said. And that sort of change, they argued, could change the way segments of the industry do business for good.
“Who’s going to loan me a lens if I need a lens?” said Ross, CBS Broadcasting SVP of East Coast operations. “I don’t know if we’re fully prepared for that in the broadcast business. It hasn’t caught up with us yet,” he said. “But I see that as a dark cloud on the horizon.”
Reitmeier, NBC Universal’s SVP of technology and strategy, agreed, saying another consequence could be that whatever high-end equipment continues to be manufactured may simply be unaffordable because of reduced demand and production.
“The economics of the industry have to work for our suppliers as well as for us,” Reitmeier said.
Meantime, there are a range of other factors — emerging technology, in particular — that are bound to influence the future shape of broadcasting, the panelists added.
While broadcast companies are developing new systems, for example, to deliver content to stations worldwide, they also must answer to consumer demands, too, they said.
3-D TV is one of those technologies.
Reitmeier predicted that gamers, if anyone, will be the consumers to drive 3-D TV — but the cost and quality of producing 3-D TV, particularly sports and live events, can be prohibitive, he said.