Turkmenistan TV tower opens

On Oct. 17, Turkmenistan’s capital city, Ashgabad, saw the grand opening of its new television station. The President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, attended the opening ceremony of the TV Tower and launched the operation by using the lever arm of a Harris IconMaster control panel to fade up the new channel.

The Central Asian state made the decision to modernize its television operations in 2008. Turkish construction company Polimeks was invited to construct the building, and through its systems integration subsidiary, Policom Technology, outfitted the station with six television channels, studios, an OB fleet and transmission facilities.

Turkmenistan TV’s 700ft Television Tower was built at an elevation of 3300ft in the hills overlooking the city, giving good terrestrial coverage over a wide area. The first stage of construction was to build the six-mile access highway before work on the building could start. The construction of the building took 18 months, with the technical systems integration starting in July 2011, so it was no mean feat that the station opened only three months later. The transmission tower sits atop a revolving restaurant and offices, which are built in the shape of the national emblem — the octagonal star. The studio complex is beneath. The basement includes parking and the OB garage.

The station transmits six channels in two multiplexes (four SD channels and two simulcast in HD), which allows for viewers without HD receivers. The transmitters are from Rohde and Schwarz, with a Kathrein antenna system, and provide a total ERP of 200kW. Encoding is DVB-T2 as well as analog, and also includes DAB radio transmissions. The top of the tower includes a special device to stabilize the tower, as Ashgabad is in a seismically active area.

Policom selected Harris to provide the main video infrastructure including NEXIO AMP servers, NEXIO Farad online storage, Platinum routing, Inscriber G7 integrated HD/SD broadcast graphics system and ADC playout automation with Invenio asset management. The NEXIO servers can ingest from tape or by file transfer from the Avid editing systems. The station has a mix of linear editing, for the extensive tape archive, and nonlinear editing for recently acquired material. Avid supplied Media Composer seats for the 50 nonlinear bays, with a 12-chassis 384TB capacity ISIS system for storage. Avid also supplied ProTools for the television sound and radio editing. Linear suites use Sony BE-700, and can be used with the IMX tape the company uses for SD, or with HDCAM.

The station has two large studios, four mid-size and a further seven small studios. The station uses Sony cameras throughout. The installation includes 68 HDC-1550 series studio cameras. A further 50 Sony cameras have been purchased for program acquisition. Canon provided lenses for the cameras. One of the smaller studios is equipped with an Orad/Ultimatte virtual set. Camera support is by Vinten with a number of Supertechno camera cranes. Lighting comes from DeSisti with a mix of tungsten, fluorescent and the latest LED fixtures.

Sound mixing uses Vista 9 in the larger studios, 42- or 32-fader versions, and Vista 5 in the smaller studios. The studios and edit bays are equipped throughout with desks from TBC Consoles, with a total of 196 consoles throughout the facility.

The studio complex has digital signage provided by an IPTV network based on Harris Selenio and Infocaster. This provides the facility with general viewing of the station output.

Part of the contract was to supply an OB fleet. The vans were coachbuilt by ToutenKamion in France. To meet the tight schedule the vans were airlifted to the site for the installation of the video and audio systems by Policom. Three 26-tonnes Mercedes Axor vans provide the main capability, supported with a microwave link or an Mercedes Sprinter chassis, and an SNG uplink, based on a Mercedes GL700. The main OB vans also have SNG uplink facilities with 1.5m antenna fitted to the roofs. The vans each have four Sony cameras and two HDC-3300 super-motion cameras fitted with Canon Digisuper 86AF lenses. Orad servers are use for the 3-phase slomo recording. Studer Vista 5 consoles again provide the audio mixing.

Policom will help Turkmenistan with further system configuration in the coming months, and will help to operate the facility for the next two years as the local staff become familiar with the file-based operations that are replacing their old videotape operations.