Education for all: Broadcast Academy’s Ekta Hutton on creating a lasting legacy
Sports broadcasting is all about the fan experience, encouraging the viewer to care and magnify the emotion. To make that possible, people in the television industry need education, and for those looking to get into this area, training needs to be made available.
While this type of educational resource is readily available in some countries, for some people it is harder to access, for instance, women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, the Broadcast Academy, part of Host Broadcast Services (HBS), is helping to level that playing field. The Academy is headed by Ekta Hutton.
The Broadcast Academy aims to create a lasting legacy, Hutton says. That legacy is a practical way of developing talent to make a positive change in the industry on an international scale.
She explains: “We are trying to create a cross-platform learning initiative that can bring us closer to our counterparts in other parts of the world, be they in Africa, the Middle East or Asia-Pacific. We have three key pillars: train tomorrow’s stars; encouraging women in leadership positions in our industry; and sustainability. Our objective is to take small practical steps in the right direction and our efforts combined with all our participants’ efforts is creating a domino effect of a more diverse and skilled workforce.”
“We have a long way to go as we feel this is just the beginning. The more support we get from partners and well-wishers, the better we will be able to serve our community.”
The Broadcast Academy has evolved since she became part of it. Its success is visible in the success of its participants. Vera Bichler, a BA graduate, is now the first woman director at ORF, Austria. Refat Hamid from Palestine will be attending IBC 2019 for the very first time and Josephine Mankfu Talla, the only woman football director from Cameroon, is breaking all stereotypes in her home country.
Says Hutton: “From an operations point of view, we are serving our community through our programmes in London, Paris, Liege, Amsterdam, Tunis, Hanoi, Colombo, Miami, and Kuala Lumpur. Our courses are attracting participants from far afield and one participant even came from Peru to London.”
However, there is a lot more work to be done, she adds: “We have a long way to go as we feel this is just the beginning. The more support we get from partners and well-wishers, the better we will be able to serve our community.”
Onwards and upwards
Taking the Academy forward is a team effort, notes Hutton. She says the team consists of dedicated individuals that have devoted their time and effort to establish the Academy to its current level, including HBS management, Dan Miodownik and Luc-Antoine Charial, who are both supporters of the Academy, and Hutton adds, “are not only resourcing the project but also creating a very clear roadmap and vision for the Academy”.
She goes on: “Secondly, it is our technical partner, EVS, that provides all the equipment and the support required to deliver a high end learning experience. We are also proud of our partnership with UNESCO that helps us bring awareness to issues facing the broadcast community.”
Skills, training and accessibility in sports broadcasting today are areas that need a lot more work, Hutton states. She explains: “The sports media world is a fantastic industry and full of passionate and talented people. But just like other industries, we also have our own share of challenges. The primary challenge is how do we attract talent, how do we develop that talent and then how do we ensure that our industry fosters equality and has a diverse workforce?
“With the big broadcasters now moving from in-house production teams to outsourcing freelance staff, the challenge has now become clearer; who is responsible for the development of the talent? Is it the broadcasters, is it the government? If not the government and the broadcasters is it the individual himself or herself?”
The difficulty is the disparate nature of this industry, she comments: “In every country there are different stakeholders but no one currently is leading the path in developing talent.
“I have met many people who feel passionately about the subject but are not sure how to lend their support. Providing training, exposure and opportunities are ways that broadcasters can bring out positive changes in our industry.”
Through our programmes, we are able to offer a limited number of bursaries for women and minority groups. As a result, the participants are able to build industry networks and acquire skills and confidence required to progress in their careers.”
As to what the sports broadcasting industry needs to do to rectify these issues, Hutton concludes: “A coordinated effort. I have met many people who feel passionately about the subject but are not sure how to lend their support. Providing training, exposure and opportunities are ways that broadcasters can bring out positive changes in our industry.
“SVG Europe is a great promoter of diversity and, by highlighting the challenges, is spreading awareness about the issue – which is also a great way of making people accountable in their roles,” she notes. “I definitely do not believe in quotas and think the best way for us to address any issue is through conversation and education.”
Adventure and travel
Globetrotting throughout her career, Hutton has moved from India to the Middle East, to the UK, to Singapore and now Paris.
On how Hutton made the move from her homeland of India to the Middle East, she says: “It was my love of travel and adventure that drove me to seek out life outside of India. Dubai 20 years ago was a melting pot of cultures and working and living with people from different nationalities was a big draw.
“With my background in marketing and business development, I was able to be part of some of most iconic brands journey in establishing their community initiatives in the Middle East region,” she comments.
In Dubai, Hutton worked at the Manchester United Soccer School programme in United Arab Emirates for six years to 2010. She says: “Manchester United Soccer School programme was a dream project that I was lucky enough to be part of. From Sir Alex Ferguson to Cristiano Ronaldo to Sir Bobby Charlton, I had the privilege to meet and work with some of the best names in the sports industry. It was the biggest soccer school of Manchester United outside of the UK.”
She adds: “In the first few days at the job, I quickly learned about the differences between different communities and the ingrained gender biases about women players. Our programmes served as platform for different communities to work together as a team. The highlight was a young Saudi woman joining our course, which then inspired many young girls to participate in our sessions. I was playing a small role in encouraging diversity from very early on in my career.”
Anyone for cricket?
From the Manchester United Soccer School programme, Hutton moved to the ICC Cricket Academy.
She notes: “The ICC Cricket Academy was a fantastic project where I was part of the team from the planning stages to launching and operating the Academy. From organising marketing and awareness activities to actually project managing the opening of the top-notch facilities, I was able to sink my teeth into all different aspects of running an academy. My responsibilities included marketing to operations, managing the budgets and reporting to the board; it was definitely a once in a life opportunity.
“I had a lot of support from all my management and colleagues in making the Academy a huge success,” she continues.
“I would attribute the success of the Academy to a truly diverse approach. We took the best coaching talent from Australasia and the Indian subcontinent, and the multinational operations team serving a cross-section of players from around the world as well the local community.”
From the ICC Cricket Academy, Hutton moved to sunny Leeds in the UK to become a consultant at Broadcast Media, where she assisted the All India Football Association and other football bodies on their international football coaching development ambitions.
Helping women worldwide
Hutton then made the move to Paris. She comments: “Similar to my earlier roles, when I moved to Paris, I had a chance meeting with HBS and found out about the Broadcast Academy. Although it was a different field, my experience of setting up academies was definitely unique and therefore a short auditing role then led a full-time opportunity. The Broadcast Academy is another fantastic project that has the ability to leave a positive impact on the industry as a whole.”
She says the role enables her to help women worldwide, which is her ideal job: “The idea of working on legacy projects around the world, the prospect of creating a relevant training environment for broadcast professionals and to help women further in our field, sounded like a dream job. All the things that I feel passionately about actually became my day job. As the proverb goes, ‘Chose a job you love and you will never have to work a day’.”
“I definitely do not believe in quotas and think the best way for us to address any issue is through conversation and education.”
The challenge of making the Broadcast Academy work is what attracted her to the role, Hutton states. “When you work in a start-up, there are no defined roles and structures and that is what I enjoy about setting up academies. When I started four years ago, I was involved in all aspects of the Academy, but now as the Academy activities grows we have a team of people supporting us from marketing to operations.
“I see my role as a strategic advisory role to identify new markets and expand our current activities at the same time ensure that our current courses and activities not only meet participant’s and clients’ objectives but also exceed them. Last but not least, I would continue to focus on creating opportunities for our participants that find their place in the industry,” she says.
Ekta Hutton will be speaking at Sport Production Summit 2019 in Amsterdam on 12 September. For more details, visit: https://www.svgeurope.org/sps-2019