Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTVS) is the national radio and television public broadcaster in Slovenia. Based in the capital, Ljubljana, with main regional radio and TV centres in Koper and Maribor, it is a key culture, education, entertainment and information resource for the country’s two million inhabitants with strong news departments that employ around 650 people, from journalists to editors across its TV, radio and multimedia operations.
Increasingly, of course, in common with newsrooms around the world, that also means the organisation’s journalists are working on online content for social media and other outlets. So, RTVS decided to take advantage of a plan to move the geographically separated TV and radio news operations in Ljubljana together into a new building, which is still in a planning stage, and implement a story-centric workflow that would unify the two organisations.
To achieve this, an upgrade was required to both the radio and TV newsroom systems. RTVS Radio had been a customer of Dalet since 1995 and was working on Dalet Radio Suite HD, while the TV operation was using a Quantel production system linked to an Avid iNews NRCS.
“The idea was ‘let’s do it together; let’s build a common system with a common newsroom computer system, to create seamless collaboration between journalists from radio and TV, and, of course, in the regional centres’,” explains Marko Filli, RTVS CTO. “So, we started to search for possibilities. We asked the usual well-known providers who could provide a common newsroom computer system and a common production system, or combine two or three different systems to meet our needs.”
The result of a public tender was the selection of a bid from Dalet. This looked to implement a Dalet Galaxy five installation across the two organisations that built on its strong relationship with RTVS Radio, involved an experienced local partner in the shape of the Ljubljana-based AVC Group, and crucially both matched the technical specifications that RTVS had laid out and came in at the right price.
Challenges along the way
Dalet Galaxy five is the latest evolution of the Dalet Galaxy Media Asset Management (MAM), workflow orchestration and editorial platform. It unifies the content chain by managing assets, metadata, workflows and processes across multiple and diverse production and distribution systems, and was thus a perfect fit for the RTVS operation.
The RTVS Dalet Galaxy five solution is designed to operate with close to 400 concurrent clients, 160 in TV offices and 100 in Radio offices in Ljubljana, and the rest at its regional radio centres. Storage for high and low resolution TV media is provided by a 300TB Quantum StorNext SAN with Fibre Channel, while the near on-line material is handled by about 400TB of NetApp NAS Storage. The Radio side uses an HPE 3Par 7200 100TB storage and one HPE MSA 2040 40 TB, ready for visual radio, too. Storage requirements at the regional sites are lower due to being audio only.
One of RTVS’ key requirements was the advanced integration with its Avid Maestro graphics, which had to be built from the ground-up by the Dalet team alongside additional integrations for FAB subtitling and Morpheus Automation playout (an integration with RTVS’s Provys traffic system was already built).
“Integration with our Avid graphics was very important,” says Filli, “and has been implemented so that graphics elements are produced for linear playout, but it is possible to add some additional graphics for various multimedia outlets. This is very fast and very useful.”
Achieving a deep level of custom integration was not the only challenge that RTVS had to face, though. Change management is often cited as an issue for organisations moving towards story-centric workflows, and Filli admits this is the case here as well. “Making changes in a company is not easy when you have about 650 journalists and editors. This is really a lot of people to train.”
This training is further complicated by the fact that breaking ground on the new, purpose-built combined TV and radio building is currently on hold and waiting for project approval. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the separate news teams won’t be able to sit together in the same space, RTVS reckons the benefits of the new workflow are powerful enough that the installation is going ahead in their current, separated locations. Where space cannot bring them together, the hope is that software and communication apps will.
“The story-oriented way of work will be depending on the capacity of the journalists to communicate with their colleagues,” says Filli. “So, it will be more difficult than sitting in a common area, but I hope that with chats and video meetings it will work the same way.
“For example, until the middle of February, we tried to implement Microsoft Teams for our people, and usually they would say, ‘We don’t understand how we could use this. What is it for?’,” he continues. “Then as soon as we had to stay at home because of the pandemic, all of them learned to use Teams in 24 hours. Today they’re all experts in Teams. So, digital transformation in this sense was our company’s response to Covid-19 and, I think, in many other companies too.”
Although the pandemic has had a definite impact on the project timeline, everyone has found new ways of working together. Dalet’s traditional approach of meeting the customer on site to run workshops was replaced with agile-based workshops done remotely. During these virtual sessions which were held four times per week, Dalet Professional Services captured RTV’s requirements, performed quick configurations on a test platform and then performed ‘show-and-tells’ back to RTV to get the design updated quickly and iteratively.
The pandemic has served to highlight the power and flexibility that the new Dalet Galaxy five installation will bring to the company when it unifies its Radio and Television operations and goes live. It is not just a story-centric workflow that can be implemented, but a whole new way of remote, collaborative working.
“Our radio journalists did a lot of work from home during the pandemic lockdown because we enabled remote access to Dalet,” explains Filli. “They were able to record at home, edit, and then save to the master server. It was not the same for TV because with our current TV system we weren’t able to arrange editing units to work from home in time.”
“With Dalet, it’s different because the platform is more universal. If you have a good notebook or a good PC at home, you can install the Dalet tools and work with video and audio. So, we expect changes in the future, with journalists working both from home and in the field directly with the central server.”