In Time For Olympics, Germany’s ARD Makes HD Switch

By Kevin Hilton

German
public broadcaster ARD is due to begin full-HD broadcasts on its Das Erste (The
First) channel by the beginning of next year, in time for the Winter Olympic Games
from Vancouver, Canada. A new automated HD playout
centre is being built at ARD’s national transmission complex in Frankfurt, with
the aim for it to be ready in time to broadcast the IAAF World Atheletics
Championships, which take place in Berlin during this coming August.
ARD is an
association of nine regional TV and radio broadcasters, plus international
network Deutsche Welle. The national playout centre, ARD-Stempunkte, is housed
within the Frankfurt headquarters of Hessischer Rundfunk, which contracted Grass Valley
to oversee the building of the new facility.
Equipment
for the existing SD playout suite was supplied by Grass
Valley, and the new installation will
be based on the K2 platform, including HD
Tranix routers and Maestro master-control switchers.
Programmes
will be played out from an Avesco system, with the transmission centre also to
feature Miranda multiple-image displays, Dolby audio processing, and Tektronix
products. The installation is being handled by the Grass Valley
systems integration division of Thomson Systems Germany, based in Weiterstadt.
“As a
public broadcaster, we are expected to lead the way in HD, especially in respect
of the quality in programme distribution, but also to do it in a controlled and
cost-effective manner,” says Stephen Wagner, the head of ARD-Stempunkte.
“Based on an EU-tender process, we have made a selection between a number
of systems integrators. The decisive factor in choosing Grass Valley
was their convincing offer but also our familiarity with their team from
previous projects and their track record in continuing support.”