Fox Sports Net catches DVCPRO50

Continuing its commitment to 50-Mb/s digital tape formats, FOX Sports Net is buying Panasonic DVCPRO50 tape gear to handle local news production for its regional sports networks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

FOX first committed to 50-Mb/s digital recording in 1996 when it chose JVC's Digital-S [now called D-9], the only 50-Mb/s format at the time, as the in-house videotape format for FOX News Channel and FOX Sports News and the archive standard for the FOX Network Center. Now FOX Sports Net will rely on Panasonic's new DVCPRO50 format, which uses 3:3:1 signal compression and 4:2:2 signal processing, for news acquisition, editing and playback. The cable sports network will install DVCPRO50 AJ-D900 switchable (16:9/4:3) camcorders and AJ-D960 slow-motion studio VTRs in its regional production centers, most of which are currently using analog Beta SP tape.

"That's where we're going," says Andrew G. Setos, executive VP of News Corp.'s News Technology Group. "It's obviously inefficient to buy different formats for the different regions."

The DVCPRO50 gear is strictly for local news use, such as studio recording and on-site reporting. Game coverage on FOX Sports Net will continue to be produced using mobile vendor trucks and whatever format they utilize.

"This is our first buildout for the regions," says Setos. "But it's already a standard within the FOX family-not the format but the signal on the tape."

With its existing Digital-S tape machines at FOX News Channel and the FOX Network Center, FOX has already recorded over 100,000 hours of content using 4:2:2 DV compression, he adds.