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Ascent Media Completes First Phase of Weather HDTV Transition

Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services completed the first phases in the development of a broadcast infrastructure to support the delivery of The Weather Channel programming in HDTV, officials said Wednesday.

The initial phase, which enabled the HD network to launch in October, includes broadcast system design and creation of an HD network origination space. This phase made it possible for the network to launch two native HD long-form series, Epic Conditions and Weatherventures, as well as new HD weather graphics for the “Local On The 8’s” feature of programming.

Over the next several months, Ascent Media will complete the second stage of the project, creation of new file-based production facilities that can simplify and expedite content creation, as well new control rooms and the transition to new studio facilities that will be specifically designed to maximize the on-air look of HD production.

The Weather Channel will add to the first phase of its native HD programming fare by presenting all live studio programming in HD by the end of 2008. The entire project with Ascent, including initial consulting, design, construction and integration, is on an 18-month timeline.

“The ability to render the weather in high-definition introduces a whole new dimension to our programming lineup and brings new value to our affiliates,” Ross Kalber, vice president of engineering and IT Operations for The Weather Channel, said in a prepared statement. “By combining Ascent Media’s consulting, design and technical skills and HDTV expertise with our own background as the leading provider of weather programming and information, we are able now to offer viewers the most compelling view yet of the power of nature.”