The idea of an international organisation to represent the views of those involved in the growing industry of broadcast meteorology was first suggested at the International Weatherman’s Festival held in the Paris district of Issy-Les-Moulineax in 1993.
That year the festival organisers issued all the participants with a membership card for the ‘World Weatherman’s’ Association’. The following year at the festival, at the annual meeting of the WWA participants called for a copy of the constitution and rules. However many felt that both the initiative for and direction of an association should come from those who actually work in the industry. This idea culminated in a conference held in Gran Canaria in November 1994, where 25 founder members met and resolved to form the International Association of Broadcast Meteorology.
At the founding meeting it was realised that there was some urgency in forming the Association as one of the biggest challenges facing the industry was actively being discussed by the World Meteorological Organisation and was scheduled for resolution at the WMO Congress in Geneva in June 1995.
The problem, to describe it in its simplest terms, was an attempt to put some order into the means by which meteorological data is exchanged between National Met Services (NMSs). On one side of the argument is the USA, where the basic data is freely exchanged but the value is added by enhancement and distribution. On the other side are the Europeans, led in particular by the British, French and German NMSs who wanted the data placed in tiers and priced accordingly.
Then in the middle were small NMSs, in particular in developing countries who were facing increasing threats of reductions and even closures from their governments who think that local services were no longer needed in the wider international context.
There was obviously a clear risk of anarchy, and the founder members were concerned that in the final analysis they had a clear responsibility to their viewers and listeners to provide the most comprehensive service and that any change in data charges would effect the content of their broadcasts and any increase in costs would have to be met by the broadcasting companies. Out of these discussions came a wider vision of not only providing a voice for the industry in these international debates, but also providing a framework to develop and encourage broadcast meteorological skills, by sharing and distributing information.
It was noted that the vast bulk of those involved in the industry worked in an environment where they were isolated and starved of information. It was important that the Association was truly representative of the industry. Membership would be open to anyone in the world, and would include both journalists and meteorologists.
There was no doubt of the need for an association, and the founder members then resolved to form one with all possible speed, mindful of the fast approaching WMO Congress. Draft objectives were agreed and a small working party was appointed formed from those already attending the 75th Anniversary Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) held in Dallas in January 1995.
The working party worked on the objects and organisational structure of the association, and discussed the membership and financial arrangements. Also important contacts were established with the AMS, the Director of the American NMS and officers of the WMO, to inform them of the emergence of the Association.
Founder members met again on Thursday 9th March 1995 to formally agree to set up a Limited Company registered in Ireland under the title of the International Association of Broadcast Meteorology.