The latest IABM survey shows that it's tough out there. How tough?
Even before the cataclysmic events of the past few months, 2009 was always going to be less rosy than 2007/8. Double-digit growth over that period was fuelled by new channels, HD and big events culminating in the Beijing Olympics. 2009 is a fairly barren year in terms of major sporting events and we have to wait until 2010 for the World Cup. The scale of collapse in confidence is unprecedented and all corporate management teams are taking prudent action to protect their business. Anecdotal evidence suggests that large manufacturers and integrators involved with major projects are fairing better than smaller hardware companies dependent on shorter-term activity.
Is the UK better placed than others in Europe?
In terms of the home market, probably not. There is some large project activity with the BBC continuing Broadcasting House and Salford Quays, while the Olympic Media Centre is some way off. ITV is facing major challenges and I do not expect much new OB business this year. One bright spot is the currency devaluation which will benefit those who build and sell in sterling overseas.
Is there any good news?
Digital switchover has a niche benefit to transmitter and associated monitoring equipment manufacturers and I think radio will hold up reasonably well. In the UK, HD is not providing much stimulus now, but once we have reached the bottom of the curve, there will be a small improvement in confidence. I am still waiting for either Madame Arcati or Alastair Darling to tell me just when that will be.