Tech News

Tapeless Acquisition Moves Forward With Partnerships

Whether an available format, or a soon-to-be available format, tapeless acquisition systems from Ikegami and Panasonic have gotten a boost with strategic partnerships.

Ikegami’s available Editcam II, which records directly to a hard drive, is now an integral part of Pinnacle Systems’ Team Sports tapeless environment, being used by the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Pinnacle has also teamed with Panasonic to integrate networking solutions for tapeless acquisition, editing, and playout, based on Panasonic’s soon-to-be available DVCPRO P2 solid-state memory media format and Pinnacle’s IT-based networked media solutions for news, sports, editing, and delivery. P2 integration will be available on Vortex networked news systems, Liquid editing systems, Team Sports solutions, MediaStream servers, and Palladium Store shared storage systems.

Panasonic also announced that they will be working with Quantel to offer seamless P2 compatibility with Quantel’s generationQ editing and server systems for more efficient workflow.

Young’s WTVO-DT Multicasts For Profit

Young Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate in Rockford, IL, is the group’s first multiplexed digital station, having reached an additional affiliation agreement with UPN and an additional carriage agreement with Insight Communications’ local cable system for distribution of the second channel.

Launched on September 22, the UPN digital channel will reach more than 60% of the market through cable, opening up a second revenue stream for WTVO ad sales. “WTVO-TV has developed new revenue opportunities without the help of a duopoly by creatively using a portion of its digital spectrum,” said Vincent Young, chairman, Young Broadcasting. “This innovative approach allows the station to offer the community’s viewers and advertisers two separate but complimentary broadcast viewing options, while taking advantage of the savings and efficiency of operating both out of one facility.”

According to Young, as this new offering builds momentum, WTVO will look to add more local programming and program diversity that enhances the station’s core business, while benefiting a larger advertiser base. “This will make it easier to maintain the station’s ability to provide strong local news and community service programming as the broadcast landscape continues to change,” he said.

Sony Delays XDCAM

Due to the complexity of incorporating both high- and low-resolution proxy video, metadata, and MFX wrappers within a single operating system, Sony has pushed back production of its XDCAM optical disk units until March.

Although XDCAM was supposed to have begun shipping at the end of last month, Sony has decided to take advantage of the delay and incorporate more customer feedback for production models and make sure that the proxy video works with industry leading editing systems. System enhancements are expected to be executed in the software of more than 2,000 XDCAM units, available in March.

TWC Buys Disaster Recovery System From Scientific-Atlanta

Time Warner Cable (TWC) of New York City will license a new disaster recovery system from Scientific-Atlanta’s (SA) SciCare Broadband Services. TWC bought the system to minimize the impact of service interruptions and to upgrade to its cable system while using its backup system to provide continuous programming. The backup recovery system is scheduled to go online in early 2004.

The disaster recovery system is an integrated solution that uses redundant, external servers located in a TWC remote facility instead of co-located in the Manhattan headends. This separation provides greater protection for TWC’s ability to deliver programming and helps assure a rapid, transparent switchover to the backup equipment. The redundant servers will monitor the activities of TWC Manhattan’s primary SA Digital Network Control System (DNCS). As the Manhattan DNCS is updated, the backup system will synchronize its content to match that on the primary DNCS to deliver fast, accurate restoration of service.

Chyron Sells Pro-Bel

Chyron has announced the sale of all of the stock in its wholly-owned subsidiary, Chyron UK Holdings Ltd., and its operating subsidiary, Pro-Bel Ltd. The sale will include all of the company’s signal distribution and automation business. The purchaser of the business is a U.K. company jointly owned by LDC (the venture capital arm of Lloyds TSB Group) and members of the Pro-Bel management team.

AZCAR Designs TEN’s HD Digs

Turner Entertainment Networks (TEN) has awarded AZCAR the contract to complete design studies and engineering documentation for the creation of an HD network originating from TEN’s headquarters in Atlanta, scheduled for air in 2004. AZCAR completed the conceptual and detailed design of the facility in 1999-2001. The facility now originates all TEN feeds (Cartoon, Boomerang, Turner Classic Movies, TBS Superstation, Turner South, TNT, and overseas networks for Latin America), as well as WTBS. The highly automated facility is based on video servers for all program and commercial playback.

ESPN Goes HD With Grass Valley

ESPN’s new HD Broadcast Center infrastructure will be based on Grass Valley switchers, cameras, routers, and modular products from Thomson. The deal, worth $15.5 million, will include several Kalypso switchers, LDK 6000 mk II multi-format HD cameras, Kameleon modular products, Trinix video routing, and Apex audio routing. With one of the largest routing systems on the East Coast, multiple Trinix routers will be combined for a 1024x512 HD matrix, pairing with an equally dense 1500x800 Apex audio router, which will convert all incoming audio sources to multichannel AES/EBU audio. The routers will operate under the control of a Grass Valley Encore facility control system.

KCTV To Outsource Sports To Cable

KCTV in KS is close to signing an agreement with Kansas City Cable Partners’ Metro Sports, which would replace the station’s sports department with the cable operation (Kansas City Cable Partners is a joint venture between Time Warner and Comcast). If the plan goes through, KCTV will air a sports segment produced by Metro Sports during its evening newscast while eliminating its three-person sports department. In addition, Metro Sports, which has a current staff of 60, would produce all of KCTV’s sports programming, including Chiefs shows, sports specials, and live coverage of breaking sports news, while hiring more staff.

The controversy surrounding this deal centers on whether KCTV is eliminating content, which the station contends, or if it is subcontracting jobs to a non-union content provider, which would require union approval. The issue could end up in front of a federal arbitrator, with the union seeking higher severance pay for the three terminated employees, one of which is being courted by Metro Sports.

If signed, the agreement would take effect on February 2, 2004—the day after Super Bowl XXXVIII, with the Metro Sports logo appearing on KCTV, and both outlets co-promoting their sports coverage.

Caps Magic Number: 39%

Late last month, the Bush administration and Senate Republican leaders reached an agreement to raise the national TV ownership cap to 39% of television households. The 39% cap represents a compromise between the FCC’s 45% limit and the 35% limit that Congress desires. The agreement is part of a spending bill that funds the FCC as well as other federal agencies in fiscal year 2004.

As this went to press, the House was scheduled to vote on the measure on December 8. While there is no certainty that the bill would pass, failure would mean that CBS and Fox would have to sell at least one station each to comply with the 35% cap.