WZTV-TV joins trifecta of Sinclair Broadcast local HD news rollouts planned for 2011

WZTV-TV, the Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned FOX affiliate in Nashville, TN, transitioned to local HD news production and presentation Sept. 11 with a forklift upgrade of the stations newsgathering, editing, control room and studio technology as well as a high-tech looking set from Devlin Design Group in Crest Butte, CO.

The station joins KABB-TV in San Antonio, TX, as the second of three local HD news upgrades scheduled for 2011, said Del Parks, VP of operations and engineering for the station group. The third, WGME-TV in Portland, ME, currently is undergoing its HD transition and should be on-air with local HD news sometime in December, he added.

The conversion of the three stations to local HD news production and presentation marks the return of Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) to HD upgrades, which it suspended three years ago as storm clouds began to appear in the nation's economy. The three are joining SBG stations in Baltimore, MD; Asheville, NC; Pensacola, FL; and Columbus, OH, as local HD news broadcasters.

For WZTV, KABB and WGME, SBG's forklift upgrade to HD includes Ross Video switchers under the control of Ross Overdrive automation; new Panasonic AG-HPX370 1/3in sensor P2 camcorders for HD newsgathering; box-style studio cameras controlled via Telemetrics pan, tilt, zoom and focus systems; Avid HD editing stations; four channels of Chyron Lyric graphics at each station; and control room display is handled via Kaleido-K2 multi-image display system.

Designed around a central DLP-based monitor at the news desk and two LCD-based monitor walls — one each for the news talent and weather station — the new set has been well-received by local viewers and WZTV journalists alike, says Parks. "The set and the monitors have brought a new dimension to the news," he said. "It really infuses a new sense of creativity in the news department that allows them to tell stories in a different way."

"It really is a cutting edge set that will help our stations to better tell news stories," he added, "by using graphics in conjunction with reporters and anchor."

To drive the on-set video wall presentations, 12 aux outputs from the Ross Video switcher are employed. According to Mark Nadeau, SBG director of TV production, they are used to drive an ICS Technology WC-5000 video wall controller that scales and positions incoming video for use on the news and weather monitor walls.

SBG's HD conversion work isn't stopping with this year's conversion of the stations in San Antonio, Nashville, and Portland. In addition to converting at least nine master control rooms to HD, the station group is currently transitioning the studio and production facilities of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) to HD. MASN, a tenant in the first floor of the SBG headquarters in Baltimore, produces Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals pre- and post-game shows from the studios. SBG is responsible for the regional sports network's technical facilities.

The station group also plans to upgrade the local HD news production capabilities of KUTV in Salt Lake City, UT, and KEYE-TV in Austin, TX, part of SBG's acquisition of Four Points Media, if the deal wins approval from the Federal Communications Commission, said Parks.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.