THE Commonwealth Games is a big deal. It’s the third-largest sporting event in the world and the scale of the broadcast infrastructure will be beyond anything Scotland has ever seen.
But what, you might ask, has it got to do with Monday night’s Royal Television Society Campbell Swinton Lecture?
Alan Campbell Swinton was one of Scotland’s pioneers of television technology, a man whose work on the development of the cathode ray tube led to TV as we know it. Or rather, as we used to know it when televisions sat in corners and weren’t hung on walls or kept in our pockets.
BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie’s speech concentrated on the connectedness of modern television. He talked with clarity and depth on the nature of multi-platform delivery and the continuing importance of quality content. He outlined the BBC’s plans for the Commonwealth Games and the 15 live streams that will simulcast velodrome and swimming pool alike.
Ken said that “connectedness, inevitably, is about people, much more than it is about technology,” and went to reflect how there remained a minority who had yet to buy into the benefits of digital connectedness.
In my new role as RTS Scotland chair I’d like to consider human as well as technological inter-connectedness in Scotland. I’ve had the good fortune to spend a decade with one of our major broadcasters and taken great pleasure in working in education since 1999 and in some ways I’m ideally positioned to help the renewed RTS commitment to developing links between industry and education.
It’s not like these links don’t exist already. Our own RTS Student Television Awards ceremony is just one example. The recent Creative Skills Summit at the Glasgow Science Centre is another. BAFTA’s New Talent Awards in March highlighted the depth of emerging talent. Next week’s Creative Loop Media Festival is another occasion when industry professionals share their knowledge and experience with aspiring, and mostly, young people.
But the Commonwealth Games is in a different league. The Host Broadcaster Training Initiative, which will be launched at the Media Festival, promises a skills legacy on a national scale with almost 200 placements for students across the country. The training initiative will make an OB truck and EVS available to college and university students where once we could only dream of such things. EVS is the slow motion replay kit used during live sports broadcasts.
It’s an exciting time for broadcasting in Scotland and I’m grateful for the confidence that Henry Eagles, my predecessor as chair, has placed in me. The new RTS chief executive, Theresa Wise, is spearheading plans to build on existing relationships and help the industry thrive in a digital landscape and we in Scotland, with the Commonwealth Games just over a year away are well-placed to do a little thriving.
We must recognise, as Ken MacQuarrie did, that 2014 is a year which includes the independence referendum as well as the Commonwealth Games. The referendum naturally brings uncertainty to many sectors of Scottish life. It’s important that industry and education remain connected, committed to working together for the benefit of our audiences, the development of our sector, and the prospects of the next generation.
James Wilson is Head of School of Creative Industries at City of Glasgow College. His media career began in local newspapers in 1986. At STV for ten years, he produced trailers and later led the on-air promotions and continuity team. He is Scotland chair of the Royal Television Society.
Pic: Dawn Martin.