ABS-CBN launches HD broadcasts with multiformat switchers

ABS-CBN, the Philippines' largest television network, has placed Snell's Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switchers at the core of its migration strategy for HD broadcasting. The Kahuna switchers anchor a multiformat technical infrastructure that is enabling ABS-CBN to leverage existing SD content sources and make a smooth and gradual migration to full-on HD production.

"With the Kahuna switchers, we are able to plan our HD operation without having to make a large capital outlay for external HDTV conversion equipment," said Edwin Mendoza, head of technical production facilities management for ABS-CBN.

"The Kahuna switchers enable us to mix content from any source into our HD broadcast, a capability that is greatly simplifying and accelerating our transition to HDTV," he added.

Working with broadcasting equipment dealer WAM Pacific, ABS-CBN installed a total of six Kahunas across two separate divisions of the network: the technical production facility, headed by Mendoza, and the news and current affairs department, led by the head of News Engineering Danton Wieneke.

Within the news and current affairs department, Kahuna control panels have been installed in each of three news studios broadcasting the network's 24/7 news channel, as well as primetime and morning news programming. The three-Kahuna setup features a networked mainframe that makes the entire system more reliable and redundant.

The technical production department features a Kahuna with networked control panels in each of two production studios. Also part of this department is a sixth Kahuna switcher, which has been deployed to the first of ABS-CBN's mobile sports production vans. The outside broadcasting (OB) van has the distinction of being the first HD OB vehicle in the Philippines and recently was used to conduct a test broadcast of Filipino collegiate basketball games on the network's Balls HD channel. This marked the first live HD broadcast of a locally produced programme in Philippines television history.

The Kahuna switchers are serving ABS-CBN's full lineup of 19 channels. In addition to live broadcasting, ABS-CBN is involved in content creation, with production facilities working to produce programs for terrestrial broadcasts, as well as The Filipino Channel (TFC), ABS-CBN's Tagalog-language channel for expatriate Filipinos.

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