The broadcast and movie industry are facing up to the threat - and the opportunity - of digital convergence.

ABC has seen great success since it decided to distribute some of its shows through iTunes, and used its National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show keynote speech to encourage others to do the same.

While ABC affiliates were unhappy at the original move, which they felt threatened their ads revenue, ABC co-chairman Anne Sweeney urged them to join her company in the experiment to develop and define new business models for the digital age.

Sweeney stressed the significant need to embrace the digital opportunity, saying that denying the need wasn't a solution, but suicide: "We learned from the music industry that consumers go elsewhere and they cut us out of the equation. We are determined not to repeat their mistakes."

This means that broadcasters must abandon old business models, she urged, and recognise that young tech-savvy audiences will force the industry to change.

"We're convinced iTunes does not cannibalise our audience, or the lucrative streams of revenue generated through traditional distribution channels, any more than DVDs of our series have in the past," Sweeney said. "In fact, we see it as supportive of those channels."

She pointed out that at present shows are recorded and made available through file-sharing networks within hours of being first broadcast.

CBS Digital Media president Larry Kramer agreed with Sweeney, describing the digital opportunity of an audience in search of content.

"We're crazy if we don't work hard to get content to that audience," he said.