FIAT/IFTA, four decades of collaboration
The history of FIAT/IFTA begins in 1976, when the leaders of a small group of television archives together establish the need for collaboration and pooling of expertise in their specific domain. Most members know each other from the general framework provided by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), but that organisation doesn’t hold a specific forum for their issues and concerns, and neither does FIAF (Fédération Internationale des Archives Film) or IASA (International Association of Sound Archives ‘).
In 1977 18 representatives of television archives come together in Paris, to establish FIAT/IFTA officially as a foundation under French law. Among them are major European broadcasters such as BBC, RAI, ARD and RTVE, as well as smaller ones, such as ORF and RTP, the French national audiovisual archive INA and non-European broadcasters such as CBS. The objective is to promote cooperation in the field of conservation techniques and tools, documentation and documentation systems, and more in general to promote the appreciation and dissemination of the collections.
Within a few years the annual meeting grows into a real conference. Every two years it includes a statutory General Assembly. This assembly elects the Executive Council, which meets twice annually. Among the core group of members a strong sense of solidarity grows. This allows exchanging and sharing experiences and solutions for classic archival challenges such as storage rights or cataloging. Gradually working groups on these subfields develop; it is the birth of the committees as we still know them today.
The membership of FIAT/IFTA keeps on growing and the annual conference travels along cities around the world, organized under the leadership of the local FIAT/IFTA member. In the nineties even two joint conferences are organised, one with IASA in Berlin and one with AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) in Washington. More regional seminars are also organized, such as in South America or the Middle East. Driven by UNESCO, FIAT-IFTA in 2000 is amongst the founding members of CCAAA, the ‘Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations’.
Over the years, FIAT/IFTA has started a broad range of initiatives, specially developed to remain relevant in the field of audiovisual archiving, particularly for television archives today: standards and norms, research and surveys, training, support programs such as ‘Save your Archive’, lobbying and more informal support. But most of all FIAT/IFTA remains a membership organization, where professionals from over 250 member organisations meet, learn and exchange information, to keep on preserving and unlocking audiovisual content in the 21st century.