KYW-TV Slam-Dunks Digital Transition

Apr 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

As soon as the University of Florida began to celebrate its victory over Ohio State in college basketball’s national title contest earlier this month, the CBS-owned station in Philadelphia enjoyed its own sort of mini-victory. And it wasn’t related to hoops.

Instead, the station had successfully flipped the switch to transmit news in high-definition with the newscast that followed that game.

KYW-TV is the first station in the CBS-owned group to make the changeover to news in hi-def. It will be followed by rollouts at KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and WCBS-TV in New York later this month.

As such, KYW’s preparation provides something of a template for the rest of the station group.

KYW’s move to HD came as the station moved to a new facility. “We had to move anyway, so we jumped everything up and moved everything into the world of hi-def in accordance with our move,” explained Michael Colleran, KYW’s president and general manager. “We had completely outgrown our other location, and it was no longer capable of doing TV in a new world because we were dealing with old equipment, old technology.”

KYW had migrated to some digital equipment, such as nonlinear editing systems, but for the most part the transition to HD meant a sea-change for the station. “We needed to reinvent and reposition the way we do TV,” Mr. Colleran said. “Everything has changed, from the way we shoot in the field [to] in the studio.”

The transition entailed investing in nearly 30 HD cameras for the field, new robotic cameras for the studio and new editing systems, among other pieces of equipment. In addition, the station bought new lighting equipment, on-air graphics and rooftop satellite dishes.

The newsroom now is completely tapeless. “We bring the video back on disk as opposed to tape,” he said. “Then it goes from disk to a server and is ingested. From there, any number of people can look at it and work on it at the same time by browsing on their computer desktop. Then that goes into our edit systems. And people can do it from their desktop. When all is said and done, it goes onto a server and is played back onto air, and it can be touched by lots of different people.”

The vendors providing the new HD equipment have organized training sessions at the station to bring employees up to speed on the new tools.

But moving to a new facility at the same time as going HD presented added hurdles. “We had technical people working alongside construction people, and that’s not an easy way to do things,” Mr. Colleran said.

The new facility houses KYW-TV and CW affiliate WPSG-TV. It has two TV studios, each with its own control room, a master control room, an operations center and a sixth-floor weather deck for live outdoor reports.

What: The annual convention of the Radio-Television News Directors Association
Where: Las Vegas Hilton
When: Through Wednesday, April 18
Details: www.rtnda.org/conv07

Radio-Television News Directors Association’s 2007 Convention