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Creating a greener future for the media industry

John Ellerton
Head of Media Futures, BT Media & Broadcast

As we look back on 2020, there is no doubt it is a year that will live long in the memory.

The pandemic has made sweeping changes to the way everyone lives and works, but for all the challenges the world has collectively faced, it has also given us hope of creating a long-term sustainable future. When the world first went into lockdown, the environment thanked us for it. After years of polluting activities such as flying, commuting, and producing goods, everything came to a standstill. Wildlife sightings increasedair quality improved and carbon emissions dropped as much as 50%  in some places. This offered some positivity in an otherwise terribly tragic time.

With vaccinations well underway, we can begin to hope for the return of normality in the not-so-distant future. However, it’s imperative we do not reverse all the good that was done in terms of sustainability over the past 12 months. At BT Media & Broadcast (M&B), we are committed to creating a more sustainable media industry. From our DPP sustainability accreditation and aligning with BT Group’s wider net-zero goals, to our world leading remote production, we’re accepting responsibility and are proud of our sustainability-first mindset. Our efforts can help the UK make positive steps to hitting carbon emissions targets.

DPP Commitment to Sustainability

With the world facing a climate emergency – indeed, Bill Gates recently claimed that solving coronavirus is easy compared with climate change – everyone must do their part. To get into good habits, media organisations should commit to programmes such as the DPP’s sustainability programme, which we are proud to be a part of. The initiative empowers companies in the media industry to better understand how to move forward sustainably.

We have been awarded the ‘DPP Committed to Sustainability Mark’ for some years now, - working with other broadcasting and technology companies similarly committed to the cause. Increasingly, this stamp of approval is becoming a must-have as broadcasters such as ITV will only purchase technology from organisations who are promoting environmental sustainability. It’s refreshing to see so many in the industry not jumping on the sustainability bandwagon as a PR stunt, but because it means seeing through change and being accountable for their actions, us at BT M&B included.

The net-zero goal

Here at BT M&B, we are in a unique position whereby we are a part of one of the UK’s most ambitious and inspiring sustainability initiatives. Our outlook on sustainability doesn’t begin and finish with accreditations such as the DPP – we are fully committed to BT Group’s wider sustainability plan and the target to become a net zero carbon business by 2045.

To achieve this goal, we are switching to renewables, decarbonising BT buildings and transitioning to a low carbon fleet. Take the latter initiative: 30 per cent of the EU’s total CO2 emissions comes from transport, of which 72 per cent comes specifically from road transportation. The need to lower road use to reduce carbon footprints is evidently crucial.

What’s more, with BT Group behind us, we are pioneering remote production and also transforming our networks into next generation IP, which uses renewable energy. The commitment to positive environmental impacts is realised throughout BT – from apprentice to CEO – and we are dedicated to tackling climate change and setting a good example for the industry.

The power of remote production

Since the beginning of the pandemic, BT M&B have been at the forefront of making remote production a reality which in turn is playing a huge role in helping the media industry become more sustainable.

In April 2020, by collaborating with our broadcaster customers and partners, we pulled off Project Restart – the campaign that got football back on our screens and which has laid the foundations for more sustainable production. We played a big part in helping to set up the new Euro Media Group (EMG) UK Remote Operations Centre (ROC) to facilitate remote production and our customers kitted out employees in their homes with vision mixing desks, full vision mixer tops, EVS systems, home mixing consoles and more; all of this was underpinned by a core low latency network which meant a massive reduction in people travelling.

From fixed line and home broadband to 4 and 5G, we created a hybrid connectivity approach where workflows have been completely re-imagined. As well as being a world-first technology and connectivity wise, the project has set the wheels in motion for a more sustainable future.

A greener future

With lockdown restrictions due to ease in the coming months, many of us can finally see a way out of the pandemic; but amongst the excitement, we must remember that we have a responsibility to preserve all the healing that the planet has recently done. Sustainability isn’t just a trend, it is the only way to arrest and even reverse the damage that’s been done to the environment over the years.

We recognise that at BT M&B we are setting an example for the media industry, which is why our commitment to sustainability is not something we are taking lightly. By dedicating ourselves to BT Group’s wider goals, keeping up our involvement with industry initiatives and leading the remote production revolution, we know that the future is green. It’s up to larger enterprises like us to lead the way, and what an exciting road ahead.

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