Pharos awarded Channel 4 tapeless contract

Pharos to continue long-running partnership with innovative UK broadcaster
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UK’s Channel 4 Television has chosen Pharos to provide the infrastructure for the migration from its videotape-based library to a file-based content archiving and access system

Although Channel 4 will not be the first broadcaster to go tapeless, Pharos helped the broadcaster to eliminate tape for program review in 2003. According to Pharos CEO Roger Heath, “Channel 4 have taken a step-by-step approach to technological change. By evolving working practices in small increments, they have avoided the staff resistance than can arise with the big bang approach to tapeless operations.”

The installation will be based around a 1 PB Sony PetaSite library, and is the first in Europe to use the new LTO-3 800 GB format. Content will be encoded as 50Mb/s I-frame for archiving. The Avid MediaStream playout servers will use 15Mb/s long GOP MPEG.

"Pharos enabled us to pioneer the use of server-based browsing of transmission content in 2003, reducing the need to circulate VHS preview cassettes within our Westminster headquarters," Channel 4 CTO Kevin Burrows said. "Pharos also provided the backbone of our master control system, so the company was a logical partner for this new project. Many broadcasters have moved forward from tape-based to a hybrid tape/disk workflow. Our intention is to derive the full benefit of file-based operation by making the complete transition to server-based content handling and playout."

The Media Access Project will be controlled by a Pharos Mediator media asset management system. Nearline storage will use a 36TB Isilon storage cluster backed by the PetaSite archive. Content on the Isilon cluster will be transferred to Pinnacle servers for playout. Channel 4 will then be able to perform the entire broadcast operation from its online digital library store.

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