(IMC) International Media Centre

The new BT International Media Centre (IMC), based at the BT Tower in London, officially opened in April 2003 with equipment specification and technical integration by Cambridge-based Megahertz Broadcast Systems.

This center, an enlarged and enhanced version of the old TV control room, routes and monitors broadcast TV signals on a global scale and acts as a hub for virtually every television company broadcasting in the UK.

At any one time, up to 3000 services can be passing through the new center, of which several hundred will need either signal or picture monitored for quality. If a transmission fault occurs, it is reported to the IMC, where BT staff identify the cause and immediately allocate engineers to solve the problem.

The design and technical requirements of the facility posed several difficulties for the Megahertz team, not least due to budget constraints. These difficulties included integrating communications to customers via an existing engineering manual telephone exchange (EMX) into a state-of-the art talkback system, as well as achieving acceptable desk ergonomics within the limitations of a room with a side and central pillar while respecting the room's aesthetics to make it impressive yet functional.

Getting signals in and out of an existing infrastructure is always a challenge. For this particular project, the Megahertz team had to monitor video traffic throughout the building, which meant that “hooks” had to be installed in different locations. Megahertz worked closely with external architects from the design stage up to ensure that these challenges were resolved effectively with no unexpected problems when the equipment was installed.

The integrator specified a wide range of equipment, including a Riedel Artist 128-port digital talkback system with ISDN interface and Radio Talkback interface for mobile maintenance engineers. Analog four-wire interfaces, Videotek VTM-300 test equipment, an eight-cube Synelec display video wall, and Zandar DX4 quad SDI multiviewers and Fusion 26-input SDI scaleable multiviewers also were recommended. Megahertz audio monitoring units with input select and PPM, Kent Modular Electronics TFT screens, a Quartz 64×64 SDI matrix, 16×16 analog matrix and 64×64 stereo analog audio matrix were installed as well. Snell & Wilcox glue equipment (DAs, converters, synchronizers, logo generator, etc), Megahertz custom alarm software, Courtyard SPGs and changeover, and Wharton GPS clock system with digital displays were implemented. Leitch analog displays, a Bose speaker system, a Sony DFS-700AP vision mixer for the studio and BES Electronics custom-made bargraphs were put in. Ikegami tube monitor and a Pharos control system finished the installation.

This technical array allows each desk to be individually equipped for a specific function, with an increasing level of sophistication toward the front of the room. If a fault cannot be dealt with quickly on the desk receiving the first notification, it will be passed on to senior engineers, with more sophisticated equipment for diagnosing and resolving the problem.

Design Team

Philip Ballabon, BT proj. mgr.

Steve Hope, sr. proj. eng.
Steve Burgess, TD
Richard Benderz, cust. support mgr.

Equipment List

CCC Networks KVM switch (128×128)

Riedel Artist 128-port digital talkback

Analog four-wire interfaces

Videotek VTM-300 test equipment

Eight-cube Synelec display video wall

DX4 quad SDI multiviewers
Fusion SDI scaleable multiviewers

audio monitoring units
custom alarm software

Kent Modular Electronics TFT screens

Quartz 64×64 SDI/stereo audio router

Snell & Wilcox
DAs, converters, synchronizers, logo generator

Courtyard SPGs and changeover

Wharton GPS clock system with digital displays

Leitch analog displays

BES Electronics bargraphs

Ikegami tube monitors

Pharos control system