BBC Outside Broadcasts has ordered two new fully-specced HD and 5.1 units to be ready in time for the Beijing Olympics next July. Exact technical details are being kept under wraps but the both trucks, one small and one larger one, will be equipped with Sony HD cameras and switchers with integrated VT areas, reports Adrian Pennington.
The larger truck is likely to be similar to the existing Unit 12 which features 20 HD/SD Sony digital widescreen cameras, 6 radio cameras, a Sigma 100 digital sound mixer and Sony MVS 8000 and DVS 9000 switchers. The coach build has been awarded to a company that the BBC has never used before, in a move that BBC OB Director Mark Tugwell admits is "risky" but promises to deliver something "outstanding and special."
"The order is not to fulfill any specific contract," added Tugwell although two BBC HD trucks will be headed to China at the same time as the broadcaster will be busy covering the Euro 2008 soccer championships from Austria and Switzerland.
The new trucks will prove a sweetener to which ever company succeeds in acquiring BBC OB, which is part of the 'for sale' BBC Resources. Candidates for all or part of BBC Resources, which also includes post production and studios, have been narrowed to a shortlist with preferred bidders expected to be announced in a matter of weeks.
"It's absolutely the best thing for BBC OB, its staff and its customers," said Tugwell. "We have struggled under the constraints of public ownership, constraints which have prevented us from bidding for certain pieces of work.
"I am completely confident that the BBC will make the right decision, happy with the transparency of the process and that our new owner will be 100% committed to taking us forward. To be honest I'm really looking forward to it and ending the ambiguity that surrounds us.
"Once we know who the preferred bidders are all our staff can think about what working for them might mean and know what type of organisation they are." The sale is expected to be finalised before the start of the new financial year.