Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services (S&TS) has won a major contract with leading French broadcaster TF1. The deal covers the design and build of TF1's new tapeless production system for all of its news and sports programming to be built at its headquarters in Boulogne near Paris. Key component vendors involved in the installation include Dalet media asset management, Omneon server systems, Exanet NAS, DataDirect Networks redundant storage and Apple Final Cut Pro as sole editing platform throughout, writes Fergal Ringrose.
The system will host and manage the production of all of TF1's news programming - the most widely watched news bulletins in Europe with almost 40% of the population tuning into daily bulletins - as well as that of LCI, the broadcaster's 24-hour news channel.
In addition to providing the new state-of-the-art production and news playout solution for TF1, Ascent Media's S&TS team is also building a fully functional back-up production system as part of its disaster recovery planning. This disaster recovery system mirrors the workflow of the live facility and will secure the broadcaster's operations in the event of any downtime. A third Test and Development system is also being built which will allow the broadcaster to assess updates to the system and test new platforms as these emerge.
The solution proposed by Ascent Media was selected after months of evaluation and testing of different competitive solutions. The 12-month integration and installation project commences immediately with plans to have the first systems operational in mid-2008.
Commenting on the deal, Gilles Maugars, CTO Technology & IT Division, TF1, stated: "Following an exhaustive year-long search for the right solution we feel very strongly that the open platform approach proposed by Ascent Media offers the flexibility and scalability that most closely matches our current needs as well as addressing TF1's future broadcasting requirements. With Ascent Media we believe we have found a team with whom we can pool our expertise to form a spirit of true partnership resulting in a win-win situation for all. Ascent Media has the necessary technical know-how as well as the resources to support a project of this magnitude and importance over the long term."
As part of the biggest project it has undertaken in Europe to date, Ascent Media's S&TS team has also been contracted to provide TF1 with ongoing technical support once installation of the new systems are complete. This five-year contract will cover the provision of call centre support teams and responsibility for technical maintenance and future development of the new systems.
"Winning a contract of this size from a forward-thinking broadcaster like TF1 underscores how the broadcast industry is moving away from single vendor solutions," said Alain Polgar vice president, EMEA, Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services. "Ascent Media's approach of taking best-of-breed technologies to fit with the fast changing requirements of television broadcasting is gaining traction. Our ability to wrap-in comprehensive support and training services for a multi-vendor solution during the entire lifecycle of the TF1 project also proved to be highly compelling and a real differentiator over the other parties that were in the bidding process."
Each of the components of the new TF1 system will be provided by leading broadcast and IT manufacturers. At its core is Dalet's Media Asset Management platform that is also managing the system's entire workflow and integrates with TF1's existing newsroom computer system and archive management. In the main system 26 channels of video are being ingested and a further 40 played-out from Omneon's high performance server platform. In addition Exanet's NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions will manage 96 terabytes of redundant storage provided by DataDirect Networks across the main and back-up systems. Apple's Final Cut Pro was chosen as the sole editing platform and 150 workstations needed to be integrated into the new workflow to allow editors and journalists to edit content both onsite and from the field.