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H.264 Adoption Creating an International Broadcast Muddle
With more and more broadcasters simulcasting content online in H.264, issues of licensing and piracy are once again coming to the fore.
Fri., May 9, by Tim Siglin

"Even local TV stations that have live streaming rights for TV are not entitled to transmit the Olympics on their websites or other mobile platforms," the CCTV vice president said. And, while he is mainly concerned with the broadcast by local Chinese stations, Hu Zhanfan is also deputy director of State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), the Chinese ministry responsible for program licensing.

"SARFT will strengthen its monitoring of all local stations as well as news and commercial websites," he said. "Violators will be warned and punished and their bad records will be linked to approval of future program licenses."

The IOC is also committed to an internet monitoring program whose goals include search and deletion of illegal content within minutes, according to Stephane Kanah, IOC internet project manager, who reminded authorized broadcasters that they have an obligation to oppose piracy and protect the interests of other broadcasters.

The issue is also cropping up in less grandiose licensing issues: a report out of Australia this week that looks at piracy from a perspective slightly different than Akamai's recent research (which indicated that broadcasters needed to get their content online within 12-18 hours or risk losing significant audience share to pirated versions), says that foreign TV shows posted on the web by content owners are having a negative impact on viewership of this content in Australia.

"International TV shows that are releasing episodes online face an erosion in their broadcast audience of up to 20 per cent," said Steve Allen, managing director of media analysis firm Fusion Strategy.

Allen goes on to say that, while consumption of pay television in Australia has been dropping consistently and free-to-air television has only recovered slightly from a significant drop in 2007, he's optimistic the growth of streaming video online will create a rising tide, especially for domestic content.

"We don't have enough evidence to know what will happen to Australian content," said Allen, "but we expect the two platforms together [TV and streaming] will generate bigger audiences than broadcast on its own. What we think is going to happen is what's happening with newspaper mastheads. When you add [print] readership and online audiences together there has been a 20 per cent increase in masthead readership."

Australia has seen an increase in online streaming video consumption of more than 800%, according to Craig Middleton, Telstra division Big Pond's corporate affairs manager, adding that it's expected to "skyrocket" with a fiber-to-the-home initiative the Australian government is pushing.

For some of the issues that streaming media faces on the H.264 front, don't forget to check out a panel called "The H.264 Convergence" on May 20 at Streaming Media East in New York. Dan Rayburn has the details on his blog.