WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8 broadcast center

When Allbritton Communications decided to consolidate their flagship station, WJLA-TV7, and local cable news, NewsChannel 8, an innovative broadcast center was required to maximize the operational efficiencies anticipated through the use of new technology. The new integrated facility, located in Arlington, VA, boasts a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure and combines resources to support operations of both stations. The Systems Group (TSG) of Hoboken, NJ, began feasibility and consultancy work in 2001. WJLA chose to split the integration between TSG and Maryland-based Pro Products Inc. (PPI). TSG was tasked with the design and integration of master control, acquisition and the primary broadcast systems backbone. PPI built the studio, news and production systems.

The core systems of the facility included routing, intercom, broadcast LAN, MATV, reference head-end and distribution. Thomson Grass Valley provided 7500 series frames for SDI and 75Ù AES routing, and Venus matrices for time code and control routing. A Clear-Com Matrix 3 system and a reference head-end that includes a redundant GPS system were also core system components. To support systems that take advantage of Ethernet-based control and file-sharing, TSG implemented a fiber backbone throughout the facility utilizing HP Procurve switches. This, combined with an extensive KVM system by Raritan, also provided interconnection to the enterprise network for WAN and maintenance access from engineering desktops.

The current master control operation handles three regional feeds for NewsChannel 8, and analog and digital transmissions for WJLA, with capability to accommodate up to eight transmission paths. The master control environment is centered around a Harris automation system that controls the Leitch VR-440 servers used for playout, Thomson Grass Valley M2100 switchers and Encore routing control system, and Pinnacle Dekocasts for branding and DVE effects. Channel branding, time and temperature insertion, election results, school closings, breaking news, EAS and emergency weather alerts are processed by software from Business Technology.

Virtual monitor wall systems were implemented in the control rooms. The large Clarity rear-projection systems, combined with Evertz Quattro cards and VistaLink Pro SNMP monitoring software, gave operators audio and video confidence monitoring of all incoming and outgoing signals, while providing the flexibility for easy reconfiguration and future expansion.

Satellite operations and acquisition run from Harris automation. WJLA receives content from subscription service providers Pathfire and Digital Generation Systems. This content is ingested through automation into the Leitch VR-440 play-to-air servers. All incoming feeds are synchronized and processed by Leitch DPS-575 frame synchronizers prior to ingest and playout.

Design Team

WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8:
Robert Allbritton, president
Mark Olingy, director of engineering and operations
Will Seymour, executive engineering staff
Tom Hormuth
Dave Weaver
Sam Jackson

The Systems Group:
Scott Griffin, project executive
Raoul Edwards, project manager
Bob Degnan, senior systems engineer
James Tome, systems engineer
Mattias Allevick, integration supervisors
Alex Blanding, documentation coordinator
Trissa Dudzinski, project coordinator

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