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Discovery Television And Technology Center Launches On-Air Operations

On Monday, Discovery Communications launched its state-of-the-art Discovery Television and Technology Center, the new home for the network origination for 13 of Discovery’s U.S. Networks and BBC America, encompassing a total of 17 network feeds. As Discovery celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer, the company will provide increasingly connected consumers with the highest quality viewing experience through the digital, file-based, high-definition ready, owned-and-operated playout facility which began broadcasting today. In this digital age, the Discovery Television and Technology Center, located in Sterling, Virginia, leverages the latest technology to ensure that Discovery’s commitment to quality extends all the way from production to air.

The Discovery Television and Technology Center’s specialized technology, systems and staff will guarantee that when viewers tune into any of Discovery’s U.S. Networks that they are met with quality programming provided at superior broadcast standards. The facility is a fusion of broadcast and information technology that enables the use of digital files paired with high-bandwidth data networking instead of video tapes for the storage and distribution of all programs, commercials, and other broadcast elements. As a result, the Discovery Television and Technology Center provides cost-effective flexibility that can evolve with Discovery as it brings content to a growing number of subscribers through traditional and new media.

“In November 2004, we announced the creation of the Technology and Media Services group – bringing together our information and broadcast technology experts in one organization. As a result of this integration and the disintegration of traditional territorial boundaries, we have created a truly state-of-the-art facility in the Discovery Television and Technology Center,” said Diane Duggan, Executive Vice President, Technology and Media Services. “Consequently, Discovery is poised to more efficiently distribute our content in a data environment on a national and global level, regardless of the consumer platform.”

With system integration services provided by Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services, the true design and operational center of the facility is the glass-enclosed, circular master control area that can support any mixture of up to 64 channels of HD or SD programming. The master control features three on-air supervisor posts, with the ability to add one more, and is surrounded by ten transmission pods that can be easily configured to control as little as one or as many as six of Discovery’s U.S. Networks in various combinations based on business needs. Additionally, the design will result in tremendous operational cost savings, while providing the ability to ensure proper signal monitoring during key programming day parts.

The Discovery Television and Technology Center boasts eight active media ingest/QC suites that can be grown to ten, a HD/SD-hybrid live events control room, two non-linear post-production suites and a transmission operations center (TOC). The fully integrated, server-based venue also hosts a massive digital data archive and on-site physical media library. After the initial content ingest, the entire end-to-end workflow occurs in a tapeless manner employing five video servers that provide 2000 hours of online storage and a nearline tape archive that supports up to 90 petabytes of high-resolution content.

“It is the technological mission of Discovery to create a completely tapeless production and network origination environment not only in the U.S. but also on a global scale,” said John Honeycutt, Senior Vice President, Television Operations Group. “The Discovery Television and Technology Center is an integral component of that vision. The next phase of this ‘Discovery Digital’ effort is to link our post-production facility in Silver Spring to the Discovery Television and Technology Center, allowing for transcoding and file transfer of high-resolution content directly from production to origination without the use of any physical media. This will be accomplished in early 2006 with Technology and Media Services’ own network infrastructure team. The blend of the two organizations has been a tremendous step in Discovery’s global effort to keep pace with the ongoing, rapid technological evolution.”

Discovery Communications has always been a leader in technology and broadcast quality. This unique facility is a true blend of traditional information technology mixed with purpose-built broadcast components. Featuring 16 virtual local area IP networks (VLANS), primary and backup video servers, broadcast automation and channel branding tools, Discovery Networks’ viewers are ensured extremely high levels of reliability with the Discovery Television and Technology Center.