In 2016 ‘The AIBs’ are in their twelfth year. These awards for factual content, which
were inaugurated by the Association for International Broadcasting in 2005, are
now firmly established as a respected and an important annual competition for
broadcasters and content producers the world over. Entries are submitted from every
part of the globe where humans produce and consume radio, TV, and online and the
beauty is that content producers with minute budgets sit happily next to big budget
content producers. What counts is quality of execution and the skill to engage
the audience – and to achieve that money is not the most important tool. For the
companies who enter what they consider to be some of their best programmes, the
AIBs are a showcase to display their work amongst the best work of their peers. No
wonder each year the shortlist of those entries which are in contention of being the
overall winner in each of the 18 categories is eagerly awaited.
Now let’s take a step back. Imagine the actual task of shortlisting. An extensive
field of strong entries – how do you narrow this down and do justice to the work
submitted when there is a multitude of excellent pieces on offer? And then the final,
the big decision – how to determine the outright winner. Sometimes, joy of joy, our
judges are faced with a simply outstanding piece of content and the task is easy but
more often than not the final choice is an agonising one as more than one production
could be the deserving winner.
The tasks of shortlisting and judging are also arduous on another count. Shortlisting
means having to view and hear all the programmes submitted in each category. In the
case of investigative documentaries this means more or less having to watch untold
stories of human depravity. These stories are hard to watch, difficult to come to terms
with, harrowingly sticking in your mind.
I said ‘untold stories’. Well, untold no longer. Brave cameramen and reporters have
run great risks in uncovering these stories in the hope that the world will wake up to
what’s happening right under our noses or in our back yards, and that someone will
take action. Sometimes, when shortlisting, I ask myself: “Where are these stories on
our TV?” They are there if you look closely, but in small doses. Too much of this sort
of fare would be too hard to stomach.
But be told they must be, and that’s a pivotal role for the media in every country.
Journalists have to use their power wisely – the power to uncover, to shine the
spotlight, to move the viewer to empathy and sympathy, to impel others to act,
to bring about change. It’s a huge power and hand in hand with it goes huge
But The AIBs would not be a celebration of excellence if there was not a place for
items of sheer joy, of all that’s good about man and his achievements. Look no further
than the life-affirming entries in the categories of Sport, Children’s and Science.
A-m-a-z-i-n-g. Brilliant examples of creativity and innovation, both in what man can
achieve in real life and in the ways this can be transposed onto the screens to ‘hook
Altogether, the programmes entered in this year’s AIBs take us to the edge of our
seats and imagination, entertain, educate and inspire us. Inspirational – each year
since The AIBs were established in 2005 we hear this adjective many times in the
course of the AIB awards gala evening. When the film clips are shown of the finalists
in the various categories there is always a hush in the room.
As a not-for-profit organisation, AIB cannot organise these awards without the
support and involvement of the industry. So firstly, my special thanks go to the many
media professionals who served on the international judging panel and gave their
time and expertise so generously this year. I also extend my particular thanks to our
sponsors – EUTELSAT and MediaGuru – for their support of The AIBs in 2016. And I
would like to thank our host for the evening, Mark Barton from Bloomberg.
Now The AIBs take a break – until the 2017 awards season opens in April next year.
DOMESTIC CURRENT AFFAIRS
RADIO CURRENT AFFAIRS
RADIO CREATIVE FEATURE
SHORT FORM JOURNALISM
INTERNATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS
Chief Executive, AIB