October 25, 2016
By Haridas K.
How has CASBAA evolved over the years?
Christopher Slaughter: One of our biggest evolutions seems relatively minor, but actually speaks clearly of how the industry has changed over 25 years. CASBAA used to stand for the “Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia”, but today, our membership has grown beyond the two platforms. We now embrace telcos and mobile operators, online service providers, tech companies, research and consulting agencies, law firms – basically, any company that is involved in the multichannel content creation and distribution in the region. The fact that this “broad church” of membership has gone far beyond cable and satellite reflects how different the industry has evolved over the past 25 years. Our biggest focus used to be simple market access issues once upon a time. Today, we deal with legislative minutiae of a disparate range of regulatory regimes on a market-by-market basis. Our annual convention used to be much more of an exhibition focused trade show, dedicated to selling boxes and bits; now the convention is all about trafficking in ideas and trends. The industry used to fight piracy by running steamrollers across piles of impounded pirate DVDs; now we face tech-savvy criminal syndicates selling illicit streaming devices that deliver whole bouquets of pirated TV, stealing not just one show, but the entire 24×7 live output of regional and international broadcasters.
How has CASBAA impacted the Asia-Pacific broadcasting industry? Share some of the changes that CASBAA has introduced.
Christopher Slaughter: The CASBAA’s mission is to promote industry growth in the region, pure and simple. We have a number of ways we do that, clustered around three main focal points, Represent, Inform and Connect. In reverse order, we connect by physically bringing together various industry executives in the same place (such as at our Convention), giving them a chance to make new business connections, meet new people, and explore new opportunities. We inform our members through a number of different means, including a constantly-updated schedule of workshops and roundtables (including our annual Convention), weekly and monthly newsletters, and various white papers and publications. And we represent our broad membership by engaging with governments, regulatory authorities, and other industry bodies on issues of concern, including topics as diverse as channel licensing in Vietnam, censorship in Indonesia, audience measurement regimes in Singapore and a host of other markets, satellite spectrum interference across the region and around the world, and, of course, the ongoing scourge of piracy and the fight to protect intellectual property. All of these activities are ongoing, and most of these specific issues aren’t the sort that has a definite conclusion. But through CASBAA’s continued activity, the industry has a neutral meeting ground, a clearing house for industry information, and a common voice when interacting with governments around the region.
What will non-delegates be missing from CASBAA Convention 2016?
Christopher Slaughter: Apart from several days of stimulating, thoughtprovoking, and entertaining interaction with some of the leading figures in the global and regional industry? Apart from the opportunity to socialise with hundreds upon hundreds of their colleagues, business partners, and competitors, all under one roof? Isn’t that enough? Share some of your plans for the industry. Christopher Slaughter: As a trade association, we don’t really make plans for the industry, we respond to the needs of our members as they make plans for the industry. With that in mind, we’re pretty confident that the OTT revolution is far from over, and companies in every part of the industry will increasingly be rolling out online services of one sort or another – we’ve already begun to see those take shape, and the process will only accelerate over the coming months. Note: that’s months, not years. We’re looking closely at the mobile video space and anticipate a big push among mobile operators to develop content partnerships and innovative business models. The future of TV is more than just apps, but clearly, apps are a critical part of that future. While we don’t think we’ll completely end the piracy issue any time soon, we’re definitely making progress in getting authorities in various jurisdictions to pay attention to the criminal activity that is being allowed to flourish under outdated and inefficient enforcement and prosecutorial regimes. And we’re going to continue to urge governments to relax their excessive regulatory constraints on the pay-TV industry, which is now in toe-to-toe completion with a host of legal online content suppliers – to say nothing of the piracy syndicates!