Tech News

BBC Slashes Nearly 3,000 Jobs. In a move expected save hundreds of millions of pounds a year, the BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, unveiled a plan Tuesday to make the BBC more efficient and to refocus the organization as a public service broadcaster. While most media executives expect total job cuts to number
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BBC Slashes Nearly 3,000 Jobs.



In a move expected save hundreds of millions of pounds a year, the BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, unveiled a plan Tuesday to make the BBC more efficient and to refocus the organization as a public service broadcaster. While most media executives expect total job cuts to number 6,000 of the total staff of 27,000... the actual cuts were less than half at almost 3,000.

Thompson also announced the biggest ever relocation of BBC staff, moving between 1,000 and 1,500 staff to Manchester, including Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport, and Children's TV (which commercial broadcasters want to kill off). There are predictions that the move will drive up housing prices in Manchester.

This come as the BBC prepares to renew its charter, which expires in 2006. The corporation will need to justify the £121 license fee charged per television set, which largely pays for its £3.6 billion annual budget. Thompson is concerned about the BBC's role and lack of efficiency as the public increasingly switches to satellite delivered digital television.

Additional BBC divisions are expected to be sold, just as BBC Technology was sold earlier this year, including BBC Worldwide, which handles merchandising and distribution and profits £123 million.



Tech Shines During Election 2004 Season



Technology played a leading role in the coverage of Election 2004 from the conventions through election night as manufacturers and networks pushed technology to the limits.

CBS News, CBS Newspath, and Fox News all used Multidyne fiber optic equipment to reduce the costs and weight of old copper solutions in their coverage of the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. CBS News utilized DVM2700 systems (with two channels of 12-bit video and eight channels of audio capacity per wavelength) for a total of 36 video and 144 audio channels for fiber connectivity from the CBS skybox to the production trailers outside. The Multidyne HEMC400 series was used for Ethernet and LAN fiber connectivity at the venue. The CTOT-800 series of broadband CATV fiber transport was used for an internal cable TV network. The skybox was used for The Evening News, The Early Show, Face The Nation, and special events convention coverage.

PESA's switching systems were used for coverage of all three presidential debates between Sen. John F. Kerry and President George W. Bush, as well as for the vice presidential debate between Sen. John Edwards and Vice President Dick Cheney. Installed in mobile broadcast units from Game Greek Video, YES Productions, and Token Creek Mobile, PESA routers facilitated pool coverage with feeds distributed to all the major networks and all cable outlets.

ABC, CBS, CNN News Networks, and Fox News Channel all turned to Vizrt's Viz|Engine to create compelling graphics to illustrate the nation's most closely watched Presidential race in decades.

CNN tapped Vizrt provided the real-time 3D graphics solutions for their up-to-the-minute graphic production using nine Viz|Trio systems, Vizrt's powerful CG, controlling nine PC-based Viz|Engine graphics devices. Other CNN News networks including CNN International, CNN Headline News, and CNN en EspaÒol also utilized PC-based Vizrt systems to display up-to-the-minute election results to the approximately 200 million households globally that receive the News Networks.

At Fox News Channel, artists used Vizrt's Viz|Engine and Viz|Artist to build 3D graphics and animations, including headshots superimposed on moving 3D panels which changed from one scene to another throughout the election broadcast. Fox systems include both SGI Onyx- and PC-based Vizrt graphics systems.

VertigoXmedia's graphics automation suite and production services team played an integral role in NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC, CNN, and Telemundo election broadcasts. The company's technology also was used by Time Warner Cable's local news channels, WCAX in Burlington, Vt., and Long Island-based HDNews-News12, which broadcasts in high definition. VertigoXmedia's Producer Xmedia platform allowed networks and local stations to update on-air elections graphics automatically with more live information than ever from various sources including network databases, exit polls, and wire services.

ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NBC used a variety of Grass Valley switchers to switch multiple live and pre-recorded segments. ABC used the Grass Valley Kalypso Video Production Center to support both its New York and Washington, D.C. news bureau; CBS used a Grass Valley Model 4000 switcher in its release studio and a Kalypso switcher in its New York-based graphics room; All CNN Headline News coverage was handled by a Grass Valley Model 4000 switcher; FOX News used a Grass Valley XtenDD switcher; and NBC used a Model 4000 in the Nightly News studio and control room 3A.

Vyvx delivered nearly 10,000 hours of live video to broadcasters on Election Day and the following day. The two days were among the highest single-day volumes the company has ever delivered.


WGBH's Recycles TV Captions for Web-Streaming



New software created by WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) makes Web-streaming accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing. CaptionKeeper software, the first tool of its kind, enables video to migrate to the Web with captions intact, eliminating the need to re-caption video when moving it to the Web. Now available for purchase, CaptionKeeper uses existing closed-caption data to create caption text suitable for live and/or archived multimedia presentations via RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, and QuickTime Player formats.

WGBH, Boston's PBS member station, pioneered the use of video captioning 30 years ago and CaptionKeeper is the latest WGBH creation to increase access to video as it makes the leap from television to the Web.

Larry Goldberg, director of NCAM and the Media Access Group at WGBH, said, "Captioned Web-streaming is more efficient and cost-effective with CaptionKeeper. By making this technology available to the public, we hope to encourage companies and institutions to make their Web-based media available to a more diverse audience."

The development of CaptionKeeper follows WGBH's release of its award-winning Media Access Generator, or MAGpie software. MAGpie is a free tool that enables do-it-yourself captioning and audio description (for users who are blind or have low vision) of digitized media, and is used by people around the world to make Web-based multimedia accessible. CaptionKeeper joins MAGpie as an easy-to-use tool for creating a more accessible Web.

For additional information on CaptionKeeper, including technical specifications and cost, visit www.captionkeeper.org or contact the NCAM via email at captionkeeper@wgbh.org.


Florical Extends Integration With Omneon



Florical Systems has announced the addition of several innovative features now available with Omneon Spectrum media servers that enable TV broadcast facilities to enhance revenue by reducing operator errors and streamlining the facility workflow. The new features include closed captioning verification and status reporting, LAN based API control of content for asset management functions, and full implementation of Omneon media servers into Florical's high availability broadcast system configuration.

"Our working relationship with Omneon has always been good," said Florical President Jim Moneyhun. "With the addition of the closed captioning solution, API control of assets, and the recent implementation with Omneon servers at a major network, we expect our relationship to continue to grow as we work together to provide TV broadcast facilities with the best possible presentation solutions available."

The new closed captioning system is a cooperative effort between Florical, Omneon, and Evertz and eliminates several steps in the closed captioning process. Previously, closed captioning required a minimum of two real time playbacks of the program to be captioned: once to make a low-resolution proxy from which the closed captioning text would be captured, then a second playback to add the captioning information to the program through the Evertz Pro-Cap system. With the new system, real-time playback is still required to create the proxy, but adding the captioning data to the video file in the Omneon server can now be down at nearly 4 times real time, saving 45 minutes per hour program.

Florical checks content in the Omneon media servers to determine whether or not closed captioning has been added and reports this information to the facility operators well in advance of airing. The Florical can detect if the process has been started, if it has been completed or if it is still in progress. Because of this reporting, Florical keeps the closed caption process on track, making sure it is complete before the program is played to air.


Belo To Form Strategic Alliance With KFWD



Belo Corp. has signed a letter of intent to form a strategic alliance with HIC Broadcasting, Inc., the owner and operator of KFWD, channel 52, licensed to Fort Worth, Texas.

As part of this alliance, WFAA, Belo's ABC-affiliated television station in Dallas/Fort Worth, will provide advertising sales assistance, certain technical services, and facilities to support the operations of KFWD. In addition, WFAA will provide limited programming to KFWD. The letter of intent also gives Belo an option to acquire the assets of KFWD if certain FCC regulations are revised.

The letter of intent is non-binding and subject to final definitive agreements.