That was the beginning but, somewhat confusingly, the group's executives see IBC five months later as the official start of activities. Whatever date the members should be blowing out candles on a cake, the organisation has grown over the past 12 to 18 months to carry on the important work it was formed to do. This was to represent French broadcast equipment companies and promote what they have to offer beyond national borders.
Company members now include AETA Audio Systems, Audemat, Digidia, Digigram, Focal Professional, Netia, Selecom, Rami and Winmedia. By IBC 2010 membership had risen to 13 companies and 19 individuals. The original founding core was Bruno Rost from Audemat, who is president of France Broadcast, Philippe Delacroix from Digigram (treasurer), Claude Brougine of Selecom (secretary), Winmedia's Stéphane Tésoriere (vice-president in charge of communication), Pascal Olivier of Digidia (VP in charge of innovation and technology), Yannick Andé-Masse (from VDL), Vincent Defetin (Sound4), Serge Mal (TeamCast Technology) and Gérard Storck (Rami).
Julien Chomat manages the association on a day-to-day basis and says the aim is to "increase considerably" the membership during the organisation's second year, bringing in more companies from the radio and TV broadcast sector.
France Broadcast was established with three 'commissions', or areas of activity: innovation and technology; communications, including exhibitions; and sustainable development. Chomat says that in the area of communications and exports the aim is to "help French companies to participate in worldwide exhibitions with lower expenses". The association will also help companies organise their appearances at trade shows, with general promotion of all member companies attending.
During IBC eight manufacturers took space on the France Broadcast stand. Among these was WinMedia, with Stéphane Tésoriere present in both his roles as president of the software automation and media management specialist and head of communications for the association. He says the same booth will be used for other shows, including NAB, Broadcast Asia, SIEL-SATIS and BES New Delhi.
France Broadcast is supported in this by UBIFRANCE, the French agency for international business development. This is one of four organisations the association has as partners to promote its activities. The other three are Oseo, which provides business advice and financial support to new companies or established operations looking to expand or takeover other businesses; the Paris Chamber of Commerce; and the former Prime Minister of France, Alain Juppe, who supports the pledge on sustainable development.
Tésoriere says this part of the association's activities is to explain to all the members how to improve operations within their companies and share good practices that can improve production and the design of new products.
These aims, and the fact that its membership is made up of small to medium-sized companies, set France Broadcast apart from most other trade associations. While most organisations represent their market sector at home and internationally, the members are drawn from both ends of the corporate spectrum and regard each other as competitors.
Tésoriere says France Broadcast wants to offer customers a "turnkey solution", with the association's members able to supply all the products necessary to build a complete broadcast chain, from the studio to transmission. "We can do that because we are not competitors," he says. "We are also all French."
This sounds very idealistic -– and patriotic – but slightly impractical, especially if the association wants to build up its membership list. However, Tésoriere does not see a problem, even if competing companies do join up: "Many of us were working together before this was formed. WinMedia has been involved in projects with Rami and Audemat and others and being part of this organisation just makes the relationship stronger."
A similar approach is being taken with the distribution of products. Tésoriere says the overseas distributors the association has contacted so far are happy to deal with several French product ranges from a single source.Although keen to build up its membership, France Broadcast would not accept applications from large manufacturers. "We don't want the big companies in our association," says Tésoriere, "and they don't need this group. The kind of company we are looking at will have 10 to 200 employees."
France has produced some important players in the broadcast technology market – Dalet and Netia among them -– but the general perception is that American, British, Japanese and German companies still dominate.
Chomat says the association hopes to redress the balance: "There are very important companies in US, UK, Japan and Germany but in France we have smaller companies making innovative products that are flexible and sustainable. The main difficulty for French companies is to be recognised as main broadcast players worldwide."
With a road show in India and appearances at international shows, France Broadcast is making an effort to put that right.