Fox News Channel Upgrades DC Bureau

New Features include Advanced Monitoring, Tapeless Operation & Network Origination

Anyone with experience working with a national news organization will tell you how important and vital their Washington, DC Bureau is to their operation and competitiveness. Fox News Channel, (FNC), is no different, as many hours of FNC national programing originates from DC every day. So when it was time to make major upgrades to their DC Bureau, Fox News chose Communications Engineering, Inc., (CEI), of Newington, VA to provide comprehensive system integration services for the project.

FNC and CEI worked together to define and execute upgrades to the Bureau’s technical infrastructure. Major changes were made to improve the facility’s HD monitoring capabilities. New systems were added for network channel origination and preparations made to convert the Bureau to a totally tapeless operation. All modifications had to occur within the existing operational footprint, without impeding daily production or the ability to cover breaking news 24/7. The process required CEI to study the Bureau’s workflow and operational spaces, presenting design alternatives within the existing floor space to enable an efficient transition through both the construction and operational upgrade phases.

FNC, along with other Fox cable channels, originate from Master Control facilities in New York City. This project also included enabling the DC Bureau to be the primary Master Control Disaster Recovery Site for backing up New York. New HD Master Control Air Chains were built to replicate the NY services for Fox News Channel, Fox News International, Fox Business Channel and Fox Business International. These new Air Chains continuously shadow the NY services for live, recorded and interstitial content. A fifth complete Air Chain was also installed as an (N+1) spare.

To support the additional Master Control Air Chains, a new Evertz MVP multiviewer was installed to serve Acquisition, Transmission, Camera Shading and Master Control. The new multiviewer was equipped with 162 HD/SD-SDI and 8 DVI/VGA inputs along with 18 HD/SD-SDI and 16 DVI/VGA outputs. The fully redundant control system allows operators at each position to control the router, multiviewer displays and signal path processing equipment. The multiviewer also provides quality control monitoring and displays alarms to trigger operator intervention when signals deviate from preset parameters.

A unique “sticky notes” feature conceived by CEI and developed by Evertz, allows an operator to create a customizable text field to be laid over the monitor path of any incoming video source. That note travels with the source and can be displayed or turned off at each monitoring port. This feature is extremely useful during hectic breaking news events with multiple, ever changing remote feeds.

The project also required the design and installation of a new Broadcast LAN System with enterprise level redundant switches, redundant firewalls and connectivity to New York via WAN access. Redundant network paths were provided to all devices to minimize network outages. CEI collaborated with Fox IT and Fox Engineering to define switch configuration and network performance criteria.

These new capabilities at FNC’s DC Bureau improved daily news production, delivered faster remote handling and provided robust broadcast disaster recovery systems, all within the existing floor space!