Channel M Building a multicultural TV station

Channel M was awarded an over-the-air broadcast license in early 2002. Its mandate was to provide multicultural programming in over 22 languages to the Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) community.

The station needed to be as high-tech and automated as possible to reduce ongoing operational costs. The infrastructure needed to accommodate an eventual migration to HDTV, while initially being able to satisfy demanding local production requirements.

From this vision grew the Channel M model: Video server technology would be at the core of the station; however, the station couldn't afford a SAN or MAN system. Users of the video server platforms included news, production and on-air departments so, to ensure reliability, redundant servers would be incorporated. The station needed to provide as much storage capacity as possible to the three areas, while maintaining a tight coupling between the news back-end editing system and the front-end play-to-air system.

The station was built as an SDI plant with separate (non-embedded) AES audio. Sony IMX technology was chosen for the production and on-air areas. Sony DV Cam was chosen for news acquisition.

Working with Applied Electronics, the station brought many advanced systems together. A redundant video server core services on-air and news play-to-air. Thomson Grass Valley Vibrint editing systems were chosen for the news back-end, and Profile XPs were chosen for playout. The servers were chosen because they can do seamless video file transfers, but also they can support both MPEG-2 50Mb and DV 25Mb formats. Avid systems were chosen as for online production editing because of the familiarity of the interface within the freelance editing community. A transcoding package was purchased to flip the Avid files from their native format into the Thomson Grass Valley server in a DV or MPEG format.

Channel M faced many challenges with the build, but Pinnacle Systems integration of MOS protocol in the newsroom solved the multiple language requirements. Requirements for video to the desktop were solved using media asset management. Virtual set technology was used to resolve issues of limited studio space. These technologies represented many firsts for Channel M.Channel M also was the first broadcaster in Canada to use COFDM technology in their microwave truck.

Design Team

Channel M
Peter Gillespie, VP ops./eng.
Wayne Paugh, Ken Dann, Rod
Friesen, Bing Qi, Shawn Greek, eng.

Applied Electronics
Kim Edmonds, proj. mgr.
Brian Burtch, tech. mgr.

Equipment List

HDSX and AES audio router
DVS9000 switcher,
DMXR-100 console
DXW35 cameras
DSR370 DV camera
MSW9000 cameras

Harris Invenio MAM system

Trilogy intercom

Radamec robotics

FOR-A virtual set

Miranda Kaleido monitor wall

AVID Symphony

Thomson Grass Valley Vibrint
M2100 switcher
Profile XP servers

BDL teleprompting

FX Deko