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The DPP Becomes Digital Production Partnership Ltd

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The DPP became a new entity, Digital Production Partnership Ltd (DPP Ltd), from 1 April. This move sees the partnership, which began in 2010 as an informal collaboration between BBC, ITV and Channel 4, become a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

DPP Ltd will be governed by a board of directors consisting of, the BBC's Commercial Director Bal Samra; Channel 4's Director of Strategy and Technology, Keith Underwood; and ITV's Director of Broadcast Operations, Helen Stevens, who will also be the first Chair of DPP Ltd. Mark Harrison, currently Chair of the DPP will become the new company's Managing Director, while retaining his BBC role as Director of the Technology Futures Group.

"The DPP story so far has been about creating a vehicle for the whole industry to work together," says Mark Harrison. "The rapid and universal adoption of file-delivery in the UK was only possible because of that industry collaboration, facilitated by the DPP. We've been talking to the industry, and no one wants us to stop here. But with important new work to do – such as international interoperability and UHD – we needed to look at the best way to fund future activity."

To date, the DPP has been funded by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. These broadcasters will continue with their lead funding, but the change in status will also enable DPP Ltd to earn revenue from membership and partnerships.

DPP Ltd will offer tiered membership packages to individuals and companies, which include UK and foreign broadcasters; manufacturers and suppliers; post-production companies; consultancies; craft freelancers and individual consultants. Membership will be available free of charge to production companies and freelancers, educational bodies and trade associations. DPP Ltd will also offer commercial and non-commercial partnership opportunities to various companies and industry bodies.

Key outputs of DPP Ltd, including common standard specifications and summaries of major reports, will remain open source. But now members and commercial partners will have exclusive access to a number of services, which are provided free as part of their membership. These include:

• A compliance programme with free access to product testing in the DPP Test Lab, supported by the BBC's world-renowned R&D department

• Interoperability workshops and special interoperability projects

• Post production workshops

• A new Workflow Group

• Consultation on implementation and business change

• An International Interoperability Group

• The opportunity to contribute to the DPP's specialist work streams, which currently include UHD standards and workflow, connectivity, news exchange, HD commercials standards, and acquired programmes.

"Ours is a complex industry, and much of it needs to be," says Harrison. "But some of that complexity carries no benefit. The DPP is all about identifying ideas that remove unnecessary complexity. However, the process of simplification in itself requires enormous expertise and collaboration. The DPP is uniquely placed to bring together such expertise from broadcasters, facilities, suppliers, manufacturers and producers – and to turn good ideas into reality."

Although DPP Ltd won't come into existence until 1 April, a number of companies have already become founding members. These include vendors Signiant, Aspera, ERA, Vidcheck and Interra; post production houses, The Farm and 422; and UK Broadcaster, BT Sport.

Sony Professional is in discussions with DPP Ltd concerning the potential for participation and partnership.

"Sony believes the future of content creation and delivery will be increasingly about competition for quality and 
excellence around a set of common standards," says Niall Duffy, Head of IT and Workflow Solutions for Sony
Professional Solutions Europe. "The DPP can be an important means of bringing such common standards; 
and Sony sees an exciting opportunity to work with them in that mission."

The DPP has approached its existing subscriber base, informing them of the change and offering them membership. Membership applications and enquiries from both subscribers and non-subscribers can be made via: [email protected].

There has been considerable interest, both from the market and foreign broadcasters, in the internationalisation of the DPP's work. DPP Ltd is entering into a relationship with PwC LLP's Media Transformation Group to assist in the DPP's work around international engagement. DPP Ltd also has a formal partnership in place with the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) to jointly manage the international development of the AS-11 DPP standard. DPP Ltd expects to make further announcements relating to this area of work in the weeks ahead.

DPP Ltd is also in the process of establishing formal partnerships with two other key trade bodies. The IABM (the international trade association that represents broadcast and media technology suppliers) and the DPP are in discussion with the twin objectives of establishing a means to sustain the success of the DPP initiative while balancing the commercial and organisational challenges of doing so.

Peter White, IABM CEO, commented: "The DPP has been an outstanding example of content creators, content distributors and technology providers working openly together to achieve a mutual goal. However, sustaining what has been achieved is not without cost. The IABM as a not for profit trade association is seeking to use its resources to help the DPP develop a model that will secure IABM members' engagement going forward and ensure an ongoing commitment to their work."

The creation of a standard for Ultra High Definition programme delivery is a vital part of DPP Ltd's roadmap for 2015. It is intended to establish a working partnership with the DTG's UK UHD Forum, which represents organisations throughout the value chain, to ensure effective workflows from acquisition to delivery to the consumer.

"The major UK Broadcasters have been delighted to support the DPP over the last five years, and we are committed to continuing that support," says DPP Ltd Chair Helen Stevens. "But by harnessing the power of membership and partnership, we believe the effectiveness of the DPP can be amplified even further – to the benefit of the whole industry."

DPP Ltd will be making further announcements regarding its work, its new members and its partners in the weeks ahead.

The article is also available to read at BFV online.


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