Harris Converters Tame Griffin Signal Challenges

Gerald Weaver
Managing the signal conversion and processing needs of a DTV station can be quite a challenge. The technology requirements and responsibilities can increase exponentially, depending upon the number of stations and channels a group must air reliably every day.

In Oklahoma, Griffin owns three DTV stations which operate as a duopoly in Tulsa, and has another television outlet in Oklahoma City.


With the influx of formats ranging from 4:3 to 16:9 SDTV, as well as 1080i HD, we needed a cost-effective means for converting such a variety of signals in a reliable, automated way. After testing several of the top converters on the market, we found that two Harris products—the X50 Frame Synchronizer/Converter and X85 multiple application video and audio platform—satisfied our technical requirements at a very reasonable price.

We’re extremely pleased with the integrated functionality and price/performance of these devices, as well as the Harris complementary Nucleus hardware control system. The Tulsa duopoly shares six X50 units, and there are another 18 dedicated to the Oklahoma City operation, which has added two X85 units for its HD operation requiring a bi-directional, dual-channel I/O system.

These Harris products offer a compelling value proposition because they pack a wide range of critical signal processing functions into a reasonably priced box. The Harris X50 is a single-channel up/down/cross converter that supports SD, HD, and optionally, 3 Gbps 1080p level A and level B processing, as well as 3D TV. Capabilities include: closed caption/teletext, color correction, logo generation/insertion (keying), audio embed/de-embed, noise reduction, signal monitoring and profanity delay.

The X85 is a dual-channel platform that expands upon the X50’s features to include: dual fiber input/output, Dolby E/AC-3 audio encoding/decoding, HD/SD logo with SD memory card, and up to 32 channels of core audio processing. Both the X50 and X85 are situated upstream of our router and master control switcher and operate independently from our Harris ADC automation systems.

Harris’s built-in keying feature is absolutely essential in our hybrid 16:9/4:3 operations, as it supports the insertion of graphics and video into the side panels that flank a 4:3 image when it’s converted to 16:9. Without this capability, we would have had to employ additional devices that would just add cost and complexity.


While both devices can be configured from their front panels, we use Harris’s Nucleus, as it allows our operators to set up multiple X50 and X85 units from a single, control panel. Nucleus gives them control of a wide range of parameters, including turning side panels off or on and keying signals.

On Oct. 24, 2010, we put the Harris systems into service at our stations and the transition went very smoothly. We’ve been extremely pleased with their performance ever since.

In our industry, we found that no other converter on the market can match the price/performance of the Harris X50 and X85. They’ve saved us money and streamlined our multi-channel signal workflow while producing excellent picture quality.

Gerald Weaver is the statewide director of engineering for Griffin Communications, L.L.C. His duties include operational management of sister stations KOTV, KQCW and KWTV. He may be contacted at Gerald.weaver@newson6.net.

For additional information, contact Harris at 800-231-9673 or visit www.broadcast.harris.com.