Monday, June 22, 2009

R3m TV station in a box

With the relaxation of broadcasting laws, a number of community TV transmission licences have been issued. Come 2012 and the introduction of Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) in South Africa, the demand for community TV stations is expected to rise sharply.
The biggest barrier to entry, however, remains the cost of establishing a broadcast operation. Spescom Media IT, a veteran in the provision of broadcasting solutions, has come up with a unique offering: a solution incorporating a selection of best of breed equipment and systems that provides full broadcasting capabilities - starting at mere R3 million rather than the R20 - R30 million normally required.

Says Sean du Toit, Managing Director of Spescom Media IT: "With the appearance of new regional players such as Tshwane TV and Cape TV, combined with the shrinking of the larger broadcaster's budgets as the global economic crises makes itself felt locally, the demand for low cost studio infrastructure has increased. The introduction of DTT in 2012 is expected to intensify this demand. DTT will provide more channels and better quality picture and sound, typically requiring HD content. It is, however, expected that the broadcasters granted one of the few 16-channel DTT licences will be required to support a high percentage of community stations.

"To meet this increased demand, Spescom Media IT has leveraged its considerable experience and expertise, as well as its close relationships with world-class broadcast technology suppliers to design an integrated low-cost solution that meets emerging requirements without compromising quality or impeding future scalability of the broadcasting operation."

Explains Du Toit: "Our engineering expertise and insight into broadcast technologies has enabled us to develop a standardised but tightly integrated solution that fits the pocket of local organisations, while also giving them a stable, reliable technology platform which will easily scale to meet their future requirements.

"This standardised solution cuts down on engineering and solution design time and costs, but because it comprises worldclass technologies and solutions that are built on open standards we are confident that broadcast operations with unique needs will be able to upgrade or add to this base solution to customise it to meet their specific requirements."

Says Jene Palmer, CEO at Spescom Limited, "The solution not only meets the requirements of smaller community stations or organisations that are starting out with limited funding, but is suitable for the extension or expansion of a station (e.g., the addition of a new studio) or as a disaster recovery kit. It will also serve as a starting point for broadcast organisations that are migrating to High Definition (HD) and digital environments, the ability to create HD content and leverage the efficiencies of a digital environment being critical to future competitiveness in the broadcast arena."

Notes Du Toit: What makes the creation of this packaged solution possible at this time is the fact that entry level technologies have now advanced in functionality to the point that they are able to provide acceptable outputs for high quality broadcasts. This is largely due to the convergence of information and and broadcast technologies. Today, a myriad of standalone systems (e.g., character generator, vision mixer, spot player, etc) are combined in a single server. This is driving the release of solutions that have broader functionality, are easier to use and cost less."

The Spescom Media IT "TV station-in-a-box" package includes three Sony XDCam EX high definition cameras, a Ross' CrossOver HD studio mixer, Miller camera pedestals and PlayBox Technology's playout solution. Du Toit explains the reasoning supporting this combination of technologies: "A typical studio, such as a news studio, will require three HD cameras, video editing and audio final mix facilities, a server transmission system with automation for playout. In addition, an electronic news gathering (ENG) kit would be required for external news gathering, interviews and footage. This usually comprises a tripod, lights, camera, microphone and lapel mike. The technology that Spescom Media IT has selected for inclusion in the package, although entry level, meets all these requirements."

Fast implementation, ease of expansion

The package allows a TV station, depending on the physical building requirements, to be up and running within six weeks. Says Du Toit: "Spescom Media IT can provide a turnkey solution, from site assessment to design, diagrams, implementation and commissioning, and training of staff. It's not only our technical expertise but our keen understanding of operational and workflow requirements - and knowledge of how the industry works - that enables us to provide solutions that meet practical needs and budgets."

The 'TV station in box' is designed to enable operations to easily scale up and out. "As a station's operations expand, its needs will change," explains Du Toit, "and we have taken this into consideration. Whether a station wants to add more editing suites or boost shared storage capacity or even add a new studio, the 'TV station in a box' technologies offer suitable upgrade paths. In addition, they are built on open standards that allow integration to other technologies.

"This is a unique offering that we believe will be eagerly adopted. It lowers the barriers to entry in the broadcast arena and offers smaller players the opportunity to compete with larger broadcasters on a more level playing field. With the right technological solution in place, the organisation can focus on core functions - namely creating and delivering quality content."
For more information about Spescom visit

For further information contact:

Stuart Vey
Group Executive: Marketing and Communications
Spescom Limited
Tel: 011 266 1701
Or: 011 266 1754
Fax: 011 266 1553

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