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BTS exhibits historic OB van at IBC 2013

IBC is the European show to attend to see the latest in broadcast technology. Sometimes, we may want to look back at where we have come from. A piece of broadcast history will be a special exhibit at IBC 2013. With the kind support of the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP, systems integrator BTS Broadcast Technology Solutions will exhibit a fully functional vintage OB van built in 1957.

The historic OB van shown in Amsterdam was built in 1957 in Darmstadt, Germany, for RTP. The Mercedes Benz Model LP-312/36, 21 has a six-cylinder 110hp diesel engine with a maximum speed of 76km/h. It was equipped with the most advanced technology of the time for TV coverage of outside events. and was the first vehicle of its kind in Portugal.

The RTP broadcast museum in Lisbon has many exhibits showing the history of broadcasting in Portugal. A virtual museum gives a teaser.

Much has changed in five and a half decades. Rigid vans have been replaced with semi-articulated expandos equipped with 24 or more cameras, EVS recording and surround sound mixing.

The first outside broadcast was made from this vehicle Feb. 9, 1958. It covered the football match between Sporting Lisbon and FC Austria at the José Alvalade Stadium. The van was in service between 1957 and 1980, days when broadcast standards were longer lasting and 4K had no meaning to broadcast engineers.

As a result of an agreement between RTP and Mercedes Benz Portugal, the vehicle was completely renovated in 2006. Its restoration took more than a year to complete and involved extensive mechanical and electrical renovation. Most of the interior and exterior was restored or replaced including wood fitting, which made up a great part of the interior, as well as the bodywork. The upholstery was also lovingly restored using the original material. RTP’s Engineering and Technology Directorship later supplied the relevant broadcast equipment, being faithful — as much as possible — to the era. It is the only example of its kind in Europe.

Fernseh was founded in 1939 by Robert Bosch. In 1974, Fernseh became Robert Bosch — Bereich Fernsehanlagen, and in 1986 it became BTS Broadcast Television Systems, formed as a joint-venture between Bosch and Philips Eindhoven. Today, BTS Broadcast Technology Solutions is an independent system integrator constructing OB vans and studios for clients around the world.

See the van at IBC, carrying license plate GD-61-21, in the outside exhibit area, BTS stand OE115.