Al Jazeera to build multi-million dollar HD news channel

Al Jazeera will be the first broadcaster in the world to have an all-HD news channel. The multi-million dollar contract has been awarded to Thomson.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  May 2, 2005

Al Jazeera International will have an all-HD news channel when it launches early next year. The multi-million dollar project will see the installation of a turnkey system that will support a 24-hour HD news channel, which will be transmitted from Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar as well as its news broadcast centres in the United States, London, Doha and Kuala Lumpur. The design and implementation of the system will be undertaken by Thomson’s Grass Valley Systems Group. The project will see the installation of multiple Grass Valley HD acquisition and production products, including a complete Grass Valley digital news production workflow featuring the Grass Valley Aurora Software Suite for digital news, sports, and feature production. “We’ve selected Thomson for their robust HD technical solutions, which provide an efficient and stream-lined workflow within and between our four broadcast centers,” said Steve Jedowski, director of technology, Al Jazeera International. Grass Valley’s Systems Group will support this turnkey project with engineering, design, implementation as well as professional services and on-site support. To facilitate connectivity and media asset management between the four broadcast centres, the architecture of the Al Jazeera International system will be based on an IT archive associated with a fully automated solution allowing content retrieval from any location. For HD acquisition and production, the four broadcast centres will be equipped with 24 Grass Valley LDK 6000 mk II WorldCam HD cameras, five Kalypso HD switchers, four Trinix HD video routing switchers and a full range of Grass Valley HD modular products. Al Jazeera will also use 125 Grass Valley News Browse web-based browser/editor stations and 15 Grass Valley HD non-linear editing suites directly connected to the Profile HD servers to support its HD digital news production across its four broadcast centres. Additionally, the installation will include the Grass Valley NetCentral 4.1 SNMP-based facility monitoring software, which is part of Thomson’s dMAX (digital media asset maximisation) initiative. “Nowhere are the dividends of IT technology and the benefits of high-quality image more necessary than in the demanding, fast-paced, digital news production environment,” commented Marc Valentin, vice president for Grass Valley business, Thomson. “By adding HD technologies into that mix, Al Jazeera will have a highly networked and high-production-value environment that can easily be replicated across its multiple operations.” Speaking about the project, Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera International, added: “As the first global HD television network, we are leading the way using tomorrow’s technology, to bring the world a fresh perspective on world news today.”

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