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Filipino Network ABS-CBN Launches HD Broadcasts Based on Snell Kahuna Multiformat Switchers
Posted on Thursday, October 1, 2009


Switchers Enable Network to Leverage Existing SD Content for Gradual and Cost-Effective Migration to HD Production


READING, U.K. — Oct. 1, 2009 — ABS-CBN, the Philippines' largest television network, has placed Snell's Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switchers at the core of the network's 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."


Working with broadcasting equipment dealer WAM Pacific, ABS-CBN has 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. In fact, this 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 (SkyCable Channel 166) channel. This marked the first live HD broadcast of a locally produced program 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. 


"By standardizing our network-wide switching capabilities on the Kahuna, we expect significant benefits for both live broadcasting and content creation. By sharing switcher resources, we achieve economies of scale, and our studios have greater flexibility to work with any content source, be it HD or SD," added Mendoza. "And, as a key component in our mobile vehicles, the Kahunas will give us greater flexibility in covering live sports and entertainment events in a cost-effective and high-quality manner."


"Like broadcasters everywhere, ABS-CBN must balance the technical requirements of HDTV with the financial realities brought on by the global economic downturn — a classic example of 'doing more with less,'" said Neil Maycock, chief marketing officer at Snell. "We are pleased to be playing such a pivotal role in helping the network usher in the age of HDTV throughout the Philippines." 


About Kahuna:
Kahuna from Snell is the world's first and only true multiformat SD/HD production switcher. Thanks to a Snell technology called FormatFusion, Kahuna enables simultaneous SD and HD operations in the same mainframe and on the same control panel. This vastly simplifies the HDTV transition for broadcasters by eliminating the need for external HDTV up/down/crossconverters in the live production environment, as well as the cost and the signal-path delay associated with these products. Kahuna has the smallest size mainframe, lowest weight, and lowest power consumption when compared with other large switchers, and it has been integrated with dozens of third-party products including routers, servers, automation systems, and controllers.