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Channel Five chooses Pharos Mediator to increase efficiency, reduce cost

UK broadcaster Channel Five has selected the Pharos Mediator to improve efficiency and reduce cost. The deployment is the culmination of a two-year project led by Chris Anning, CTO for Channel Five Group, in response to the launch of two new channels in 2006 and a VOD service in 2007.

Channel Five, part of the pan-European RTL Group, worked with external consultants from Farncombe Technology and Marquis Consulting in a six-month project involving every internal department to analyze and document its existing multichannel and multiplatform workflow and operational procedures. This detailed analysis led to a 128-page RFP that detailed the productivity improvements. “Mapping our content management processes and multisite workflow gave us a deep understanding of our business, where we can improve and how we can better prepare for more challenging market conditions,” Anning said.

Channel Five uses two services providers, Ascent Media and Red Bee Media, for playout — Ascent for the prime channel and Red Bee for Fiver and Five USA. The two service providers also provide DR for each other’s channels. The broadcaster outsources some ingest to ITFC with the rest performed in-house. The broadcasters must run operations across these sites and their own production offices, with media transfer needed between all the sites.

Russell Grute, marketing director at Pharos, said the broadcaster “has got a very good understanding of process improvement. We see most broadcasters caught up in the technology and not enough in the processes.”

“This project will enable Channel Five to capitalize on its long-term technology investment and improve workflow processes to secure key relationships with service providers including RedBee and Ascent Media,” Grute said.

The Pharos solution will integrate key technology from Apple, Isilon, Pilat Media and Signiant, with Mediator providing a new and unified browser-based interface for every department. The implementation phase is expected to be completed in summer 2010. A schedule of carefully scoped implementation work is due to come on stream in August this year. The first phase will deliver a more efficient ingest process between Channel Five and Red Bee Media.

Initially, Mediator will save us in tangible costs around tape dubbing, ingest and content transfers,” Anning said, “but these savings are probably smaller than the significant productivity gains and operational capacity Mediator will deliver in the longer term — in essence, the system will allow us to do much more with less.”