Belgian broadcaster selects ATEME for DSNG fleet contribution

Radio Télévision Belge de la communauté Française (RTBF), Belgium’s national French-speaking broadcaster, has selected ATEME’s encoding platform for video contribution from its DSNG (Digital Satellite News Gathering) vehicles.

The ATEME deployment is part of RTBF’s ongoing migration to HD and will start with two DSNG vehicles.

RTBF evaluated various encoders and selected ATEME’s because it future proofs the broadcaster as it one day transitions to 4:2:2 10-bit H.264 encoding and also offers a high level of interoperability. Interoperability with encoders and decoders from a variety of vendors was the top consideration because RTBF frequently needs to cooperate with broadcasters in neighboring countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, said RTBF broadcast engineer Kevin Preumont.

”We tested an ATEME contribution pair with equipment from American, European and Japanese vendors, and it never failed,” he said. “This is very important for us because we don’t know which equipment our colleagues will use for satellite transmission.”

An important aspect of this interoperability was ATEME’s support of BISS (Basic Interoperable Scrambling System), which was developed and is promoted by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and now is being widely adopted for satellite contribution. This will make it easier for RTBF when it contributes pictures for events broadcast globally, such as the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix.

Like some other broadcasters, RTBF will not use 4:2:2 10-bit H.264 encoding immediately, but plans to do so in the future. The MPEG-4 4:2:2 10-bit profile enables broadcasters, pay TV operators and content owners to maintain the highest quality throughout the production and contribution process, avoiding artifacts such as color bleeding and smearing. The ability of the ATEME encoders to support 4:2:2 10-bit H.264 encoding gives RTBF a high level of future proofing.

ATEME’s use of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) for its platform also gave RTBF confidence that it would be able to evolve to incorporate any changes in standards or new encoding techniques.