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Sky Studios starts broadcasting

Sky Sports News today became first channel to go on air from the environmentally friendly new west London building previously known as Harlequin 1.

Sky Sports News today became first channel to go on air from the environmentally friendly new west London building previously known as Harlequin 1, writes David Fox.

Its Good Morning Sports Fans show was the first programme broadcast – its host, Mike Wedderburn, was also the first presenter to appear on Sky Sports News when it first went to air on the August 9, 1998.

“Opening Sky Studios is a significant step in Sky’s development, and this building stands testament to our commitment to home-grown, high quality British content. Not only is Sky Studios the most environmentally sustainable broadcasting facility in Europe, its cutting edge technology will also help us continue to create ground-breaking and innovative programming long into the future,” commented Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch.

It has eight studios (five of which will be in operation initially), 45 edit suites, 14 voice-over suites, four audio suites, on site post-production facilities, and room for some 1,370 staff.

Energy saving was a key priority, evident in its giant wind turbine on the roof, alongside all the heat-producing mechanical and electrical equipment normally found in studio basements – this use of natural air cooling extends to the studios and offices too.

A Combined Cooling & Heating Power plant has also been built, which will provide about 20% of the complex’s energy needs when it comes on line.

The green agenda also extended to demanding power savings from its broadcast equipment suppliers, and to devising smart ways of cooling racks of hardware.

Smart design was also applied to the infrastructure, to make it quick and easy for camera crews to shoot anywhere in the building, and to ensure the studios and galleries are as flexible as possible. To aid this, almost all of the galleries are identical, except for the Sky Sports News gallery, which has more graphics. “It’s very bespoke. Equally it’s a gallery that works between two studios, and it has two galleries in one,” said Darren Long, Director of Operations at Sky Sports (pictured).

Effectively one gallery area deals with the downstairs studio and another with upstairs. The smaller area allows the main gallery to work to the front desk while the downstairs studio shoots something for Sky News or does a pre record, “but when they swap from upstairs to downstairs they might want the smaller gallery to take control of upstairs so that they can swap all the infrastructure and everything to the downstairs area.” This will allow them to change the look of Sky Sports News more easily throughout the day.

For a full behind-the-scenes report on how Europe’s greenest broadcast centre was developed, see our story in the July issue of TVBEurope.