There are worries among facilities houses that cost-saving elements of the BBC's Production Gateway project may come at their expense. Current tape-based methods of delivery are chargeable to the client. New down the line delivery methods may not be so easy to charge and could ultimately cost facilities houses more in overheads.
The BBC's Production Gateway project was set up to investigate the technical side of how the BBC might provide an 'open and non-discriminatory means of working with post houses, concentrating in particular on the exchange of content'. The project aims to eliminate the substantial costs of tape at production and post stages within the BBC as well as improving work flows and increasing access to content.
UK Post chief executive Gaynor Davenport said: 'The commercial impact of these proposed changes are significant, particularly for smaller businesses in terms of upfront investment [and] loss of immediate revenue with no guarantee of work.' But she added that UK Post was encouraged by the BBC's willingness to enter discussions.
Jeff Booth, operations manager of Soho Images and chairman of Cheff, said it was essential the BBC and other broadcasters, as well as manufacturers, discussed their plans.
Booth explained: 'London facilities need to look at what [technology] to put in over the next five years otherwise they may find themselves with kit that's becoming increasingly redundant with a few years left to pay off.'
Cheff and UK Post have been in discussion with the BBC Technology Direction group in recent months. Both organisations stated that they were encouraged by the discussions with BBC Technology Direction and felt that progress was being made but felt that commercial implications needed further focus.
Booth also pointed towards the need for an industry-wide agreement on file hegemony to avoid a possibly damaging proliferation of file formats.
Booth and the BBC's head of technology production, Paul Cheesbrough, will both be at the Broadcast Tapeless Production Conference to discuss the impact of tapeless production on 9 November, as will ITN director of technology Keith Cass.