MPEG Future – to give MPEG the right future

The MPEG Future Manifesto

Communication makes us humans different. Media make communication between humans effective and enjoyable. Standards make media communication possible.

Thirty-two years ago, the MPEG vision was forming: make global standards available to allow industry to provide devices and services for the then emerging digital media so that humans could communicate seamlessly.

For thirty-two years the MPEG standards group has lived up to the MPEG vision: MPEG standards are behind the relentless growth of many industries – some of them created by MPEG standards. More than half the world population uses devices or accesses services, on a daily or hourly basis, that rely on MPEG standards.

The MPEG Future Manifesto claims that the MPEG mission is far from exhausted:

  • New media compression standards can offer more exciting user experiences to benefit consumers that the service, distribution and manufacturing industries want to reach, but also for new machine-based services;
  • Compression standards can facilitate the business or mission of other non-media industries and the MPEG standards group has already shown that this is possible.

Therefore, the MPEG Future Manifesto proposes a concerted effort to

  • Support and expand the academic and research community which provides the life blood of MPEG standards;
  • Enhance the value of intellectual property that make MPEG standards unique while facilitating their use;
  • Identify and promote the development of new compression-related standards benefitting from the MPEG approach to standardisation;
  • Further improve the connection between industry and users, and the MPEG standards group
  • Preserve and enhance the organisation of MPEG, the standards group who can achieve the next goals because it brought the industry to this point.

MPEG Future is a group of people, many of whom are MPEG members, who care about the future of MPEG. MPEG Future is open to those who support the MPEG Future Manifesto’s principles and actions.

You may:

  • Participate in the MPEG Future activities, by subscribing to the LinkedIn MPEG Future group
  • Join the MPEG Future initiative, by sending an email to

The MPEG Future proposal
Today MPEG operates as a Working Group (WG 11) within Subcommittee 29 (SC 29) of ISO/IEC JTC 1. An ISO Subcommittee addresses a specialized area of expertise, while a working group is typically a limited-size specialised group within a subcommittee tasked to develop a particular set of standards.

We believe that the MPEG organisation, developed over the last 31 years, is sound and effective because it is the result of a continuous evolution. MPEG has been and is able to conceive strategic visions for new media user experiences, design work plans in response to industry needs, develop standards in close collaboration with client industries, demonstrate their performance and promote their use.

The main results of a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis point to the need for MPEG to achieve Subcommittee status compatible with its wide scope of work and large membership (1500 registered members and 500 attending physical meetings), retain its scope and structure but slightly amend it to improve the match of standards with market needs, leverage internal talents, and retain and enhance the MPEG brand.
Therefore, we propose that MPEG become a Subcommittee in JTC 1 (SC 4x), organised into Working Groups (developing standards) and Advisory Groups (supporting the development of standards) as depicted in the figure below:

The proposed structure, marginally different than the current one, does not capture an important part of the proposal, namely that SC 4x should retain the current MPEG modus operandi:

  1. SC 4x holds its meetings collocated with the meetings of its WGs and AGs requesting to meet;
  2. SC 4x facilitates the formation of break-out groups during meetings and of ad hoc groups in between meetings;
  3. SC 4x exploits inter-group synergies by facilitating joint meetings between different WGs and AGs during physical meetings;
  4. SC 4x promotes use of every ICT tools that can improve its effectiveness, e.g. teleconferencing and MPEG-specific IT tools to support standards development.

SC 4x should continue WG 11’s open-minded approach to collaboration with client communities and groups operating in related domains. For the latter, the instrument of Joint Working Groups should be widely adopted.

Meetings should be held in the traditional “MPEG week format” slightly adapted to accommodate SC 4x plenaries, but with no impact on WG/AG meeting times.