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Finland's MTV3 Goes HD With Ross

Finnish commercial broadcaster MTV3 has launched HD news using the Ross Video's Vision 3 QMD-X Multi-Definition Switcher and is planning to install a Ross OverDrive Automated Production System early this year.

The move by the Helsinki, Finland-based broadcaster is significant because relatively few European broadcasters have gone to automated HD production systems, said David Ross, majority owner and CEO of Ross Video.
"Automated production is quite new to Europe," Ross said. "In the U.S., for news it might be approaching 10% but in Europe there are very few installations."

MTV3 decided to deploy first the switcher and then the automated production system in stages so they could first familiarize themselves with the way the switcher works, Ross said. He expects MTV3 to deploy the OverDrive automated system "in the next few months."

MTV3 made the purchases last year after seeing the equipment in action just before the National Association of Broadcasters 2008 conference at The Weather Channel's new HD facility just outside Atlanta. "We have quite a few OverDrive installations at The Weather Channel and MTV3 came back saying, if they can do all that at The Weather Channel, it will work very well for us."

A key advantage of the automated system in the current economic climate is the potential cost savings, Ross said.
"We call it HD for free," Ross said. "Broadcasters are feeling the obviously pressures to go HD but there is not much extra revenue associated with it and it is hard to finance it."

By coordinating the upgrade to HD with the installation of an automated system, however, "the savings [in staff] basically pay for the entire production switcher and equipment install in around 15 to 18 months for the typical customer," Ross said.

Not all broadcasters are using the automated system to cut staff and reduce costs, however.

"One of our customers in a major market decided to get more aggressive on other platforms," Ross said. "With the headcounts that they had previously been using to press buttons in the control room, those people are now generated content for the Web and for mobile use. We think this is a beautiful business plan. You buy your HD equipment, you install automation systems that give you a cleaner faster paced show. And, then, with the saving you've freed up money to be more aggressive on the Web and with cell phones."