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Experience: staying at the leading edge of engineering

The development of new projects must be undertaken with care and expertise in order to build platforms that can meet the most advanced needs in the field of television. In order to sustain an infrastructure, it must be flexible and open to technological developments allowing smooth advancement at reasonable cost.

In a fragmented market where integrators have launched proprietary systems and innovations that do not always match the needs of customers or current market developments, it is difficult to engage on a safe path of a profitable and efficient investment.

Due to its unique profile on the market, namely that of being at the same time a broadcaster, system integrator and telecom operator, BCE offers multiple skills in order to provide turnkey solutions. This position allows us to be more alert to market trends and attentive to problems that may occur during normal operating activities and enables us more especially to take on a proactive role.

Unlike many players in the market, our company has chosen not to grant exclusivity to just one supplier, in order not to have our hands and feet tied as regards our own infrastructure but to also be able to provide our customers with solutions better tailored to their needs.

Expertise from experience

With our experience of over 30 years in the creation and launch of TV channels and radio stations, BCE is in a position to meet all the needs in media engineering and software development.

The expertise of BCE has increased with the implementation of numerous projects of all sizes and in many different countries, because our experts can easily be dispatched to work temporarily on customers' sites to ensure coordination of the projects while strictly observing the schedules drawn up.

"The training of our teams was exemplary and turned out to be a genuine advantage for Nova TV. We are very satisfied with the services of BCE and would recommend it in particular for their way of working characterized by accuracy and a highly professional manner." Ivan Todorov | Manager Administration and Special Projects | Nova TV

The NOVA TV project is a model example where BCE has dealt with all levels of the installation, from searching for a suitable building to the launch of the channel. The project was carried out in Bulgaria by a team specially assigned to this mission. It was a major change for this local channel which has developed into a platform with cutting-edge technology and an all-file system. A real quantum leap for NOVA TV which managed to win substantial market share and to pursue its development owing to the first fully digital "Big Brother" platform.

"Regarding the Viasat (MTG) project, the wide-ranging expertise of BCE, namely in the fields of media engineering, IT, telecommunications, broadcasting and transmissions, helped find the best solutions in order to ensure a perfect symbiosis between the new platform and the existing system in London. "Jean Lampach | Chief Technology Development Officer | BCE.

The comprehensive experience of BCE also allows the fast immersion into an existing workflow, as was the case at Viasat, which recently has installed a new multicast transmission centre in order to combine in one location the transmission of its different channels in the Baltic countries. This resolutely future-oriented platform, with its easy integration of new channels, received the CSI award in 2011 for the best playout technology.

As a pioneer in an all-file infrastructure and operator of the first tapeless broadcast centre in 2000, BCE has managed to develop a realistic approach to these new configurations skilfully combining engineering and IT expertise, two tangents which from now on will have to be developed in parallel to ensure a flawless quality service.

Thus following a tender, BCE has implemented a so-called "tapeless" production and broadcasting infrastructure for the European cultural channel Arte. The broadcasting facilities will be finalized this year and will make possible an operational symbiosis between the two divisions. A true added value for Arte which had already switched over to the HD standard to respond to its customers' requirements.

The centrepieces of media workflow

Being on both sides of the mirror, as an integrator on the one hand and a user on the other hand, BCE has comprehensively developed its expertise thus ensuring the highest level of quality for each stage in the workflow of a TV channel.

Developing one's media capital

As a very active player at European level in terms of advertising and sports production, BCE is particularly well aware of the needs of a television channel. From the complete installation of studios including master control to the construction of production cars and SNG vehicles, there are a multitude of options for your projects, but each project has its own specific requirements.

"In an all file workflow, postproduction works with files with a lower resolution, the active management of time codes with the "id." of each video allows a substantial gain in speed." Mario Velasquez | Supervisor Filing & Program Preparation | BCE

Closely linked to the field of production, postproduction deals with the editing of videos which at this stage are recorded in a "ready to broadcast" format. In addition to this participation in content creation, postproduction also checks licensed content and manages the "time" benchmarks for the subsequent insertion of secondary events and additional content such as commercials, subtitles and HbbTV. BCE thus equips editing rooms with high definition audio and video.

Active dematerialization

"BCE has demonstrated a unique expertise in providing the perfect digitization tool for the National Audiovisual Centre (CNA). Producers may thus view videos in low resolution and order the chosen content in high definition." Jean Back | Director | CNA

"Digitisation is vital in new media infrastructures. As the lifeline of the workflow, it provides the videos that will sustain the activity of a channel. Thus, for a customer starting a business we will orientate the infrastructure towards a basic platform with BCE offering a relay service according to need; for channels with analogue archives and a large flow of cassettes, BCE will install a mass digitisation platform", says Christian Garit, in charge of digitization at BCE. With active partnerships such as Front Porch Digital and Oracle, BCE installs the encoding system (with or without a server) and the necessary software, the content management system and the digital libraries.

"TF6 performs regular backups of their content which is stored in the digital libraries of BCE, thus using our infrastructures as a resilience platform." John Jungels | Manager of Playout Support | BCE. Libraries are the centrepiece of new media infrastructures. They are both the starting and arrival point of all work in a file based environment. Tape storage provides increased security compared with hard disks, whose lifespan may be critical.

News in pole position

Parallel to so-called "classic" content production facilities, news production studios with dedicated news and control rooms are located within an actually distinct entity. Their needs being different and more reactive, a different approach must be taken to avoid work overload.

"The new infrastructure installed by BCE gives us more flexibility and allows us to be highly reactive in terms of last minute information. The benefits from this speed increase have been reinvested in the editorial quality of our news and broadcasts" explains Jacques Van Luijk, Production Manager at RTL Lëtzebuerg.

Broadcasting: link to the viewers

In this critical environment, programmes must succeed one another without errors and in the highest possible quality. "The system installed by BCE has completely transformed the television experience for our viewers; the picture and sound quality has been considerably enhanced; moreover, the automation of most tasks has opened up many more opportunities to us to enrich the information presented on the screen" says Evelina Kirilova, Director of Programming at NOVA TV regarding their broadcasting platform in Bulgaria.

In order to meet all demands on the market, BCE can install both dedicated playout rooms and low-cost platforms with a decentralized server. As such infrastructures allow to broadcast several channels simultaneously, they provide the perfect link between these two structures. "With its multicast platform, Viasat bundles its channels in a key location thus increasing its productivity," adds Nicolas Serrès, project engineer at BCE. With fewer staff, this type of installation allows to significantly reduce costs while ensuring better control and quality than automated solutions would offer.

Hardware and software

In its endeavour to offer maximum customization, BCE also provides customized software solutions (archives management, short and long term forecasts, broadcasting schedules, running orders, copyright management).

"BCE's Adonis solution is of essential importance in the integration of our programmes, from initial preparation to post-broadcasting management. It ensures a fluid sequence of events according to the rules laid down by our programme management team." Fabrice Quilliot | Responsable du domaine Chaînes M6 Télévision |Groupe M6

Ensure continuity of operations

"In a file-based workflow, the priority is to secure contents and ensure uninterrupted broadcasting. For Viasat (MTG), BCE has configured a three-tier resilience system, comprising broadcast servers, a complete resilience platform in Riga and archives with synchronized backups between Riga and London", says Gust Feinen, Special Projects Manager at BCE. Being as close as possible to one's customers is of prime importance to television channels, as an interruption of programmes is no option. This security is achieved through the implementation of a resilience platform (commonly referred to as DRP, short for Disaster Recovery Platform) which, with its "mirror" control equipment or its broadcast servers, automatically takes over in case of an incident . The DRP also comprises digital libraries in a different location, the content of which is synchronized with the libraries at the original location.

Multiple presence

Taking into account the multiplication and diversification of screens, the last step of the media workflow is done by relying on a multiplatform encoding infrastructure according to the requirements of the channel while at the same time making use of the technological advances on the market. This infrastructure allows to communicate via streaming or VoD on the internet, to communicate to mobiles and tablets and it supports all conventional transmission formats. "Although the majority of our customers host their internet streaming platform in our facilities using our transmission servers, we can also prepare a server here on our site, send the data to the customer and finalize the configuration remotely via Internet," says Angelo Rubino, Project Manager Broadcast IT at BCE.

Anticipating further developments

Prior to establishing a sustainable media installation, it is important to ensure its technological future. BCE offers to all its customers a direct link to the European Media Hub, a multi-service platform supporting numerous activities such as postproduction, digitization, content management and archiving as well as transmissions of all types.

In addition to creating real added value for your daily activities, the European Media Hub endeavours to always be at the forefront of technology in order to ensure enhanced quality services. This endeavour of always being way ahead of our time enables us to guarantee smooth transition to our customers and offer them adequate developments in order to help them sustain their infrastructure and thus protect their investment.