Skynet Deploys Marina for Playout Automation

Rodrigo Sternberg

BRUSSELS—Skynet iMotion Activities (SiA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the largest telecommunications company in Belgium, the Belgacom Group. It creates, produces, purchases and exploits audiovisual content that’s offered on Belgacom TV, and also broadcasts on its own channels which are exclusive to the Belgacom TV platform.

We currently air more than 700 live sports events per year and operate three linear TV channels in Dutch and French languages.

When we began planning for the launch of these new channels, we decided to transfer our playout operations in-house and away from the managed service we’d previously been using. We were running a combination of best-of-breed devices and a less technically advanced automation system, so we wanted to upgrade to something more up-to-date. Each of our channels is broadcast in two languages, and the high proportion of live content placed particularly heavy demands on our graphics devices, and the selection of a new automation system needed to factor in these requirements too.

In evaluating new systems, Pebble Beach Systems’ Marina product stood out as a highly flexible and advanced system and was also price competitive. We found it easy to configure and adapt to our changing requirements. Further, we learned that the GUI could be configured to suit the way individual users work, which would make it particularly popular with our operational staff.

The playout operators can easily follow what is going on or about to happen very easily and intuitively at various levels on all channels.

As we’re a dual-language broadcaster, the ability to handle each language version— in effect, as a separate entity, with different voiceovers and graphics—is also a plus.

We took the new automation system to air in July 2012, following an aggressive plan from purchase order signature to going live in just four months. Marina automation controls our EVS server and Miranda Vertigo graphics systems. It also interfaces to a Front Porch Digital DIVArchive and provides interactivity, with viewers able to go from a trailer to a video-on-demand item in one click.

The system incorporates varying levels of redundancy, with full air protection on the two soccer channels we run, and there’s an additional level of redundancy for the graphics aired, with a switchover to a backup graphics device using Marina’s routing if the main graphics source should fail.

Pebble Beach Systems developed their “Auto Promo Generation” feature to meet our requirements. It safeguards the integrity of channel information graphics should we need to make changes due to latebreaking events. Just before placing a graphic going on air, Marina dynamically sources data from multiple playlists simultaneously, extracting the most up-to-date program information. Configurable templates are then populated with accurate start times, titles, preview clips and images as required, so that last-minute schedule changes can be displayed without the need to manually generate new graphics.

This Pebble Beach Systems Marina playout system is now truly one of our showcase solutions.

Rodrigo Sternberg has been the technical director at SiA since 2011 and previously served as a consultant. He may be emailed

For additional information, contact Pebble Beach Broadcast at 855-732-2538 or