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Fox Stations Opt for P2

Fox Television Stations will deploy Panasonic's P2 format, which records video as files on removable solid-state memory cards, for news production across all 35 of its owned-and-operated stations. The three-year deal taps Panasonic Broadcast as the exclusive supplier of certain electronic newsgathering equipment for Fox's stations.

The agreement was negotiated at the corporate level, but individual stations are free to purchase whatever P2 standard- or high-definition gear they see fit. In fact, five affiliates—WNYW and WWOR New York; WTXF Philadelphia; KRIV Houston; and KTVI St. Louis—purchased P2 standard-def gear prior to the deal.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. But it's a multimillion-dollar sale for Panasonic. A typical Fox station would buy 15-20 camcorders; at list prices, that would represent an investment of $400,000-$540,000 per station, although Fox is sure to have negotiated a discount.

P2 represents three major innovations for Fox: no moving parts in the camcorder, a dramatic workflow change to file-based operation, and the ability to move to high-definition news acquisition. Says Fox President of Engineering Andrew G. Setos, "This is a fundamental change, even more fundamental than moving from 16mm film newsgathering to electronic newsgathering."