The decision is part of a company-wide initiative to digitise its assets and will involve building new facilities at its Great Marlborough Street headquarters as well as hiring around 40 new staff. The new facility is scheduled to launch on 1 January 2006, replacing the company's existing tape playout services provided by Ascent Media. Turner's new transmission facility will shadow Ascent's service from the middle of next year.
Although it is believed that the decision will cut costs in the long term, the immediate reason for the initiative is to position Turner to take advantage of technological developments. Tina McCann, senior vice-president and general manager of Turner Entertainment Network, said: 'This is only partially a cost-saving exercise. As part of a company global strategy we feel that [tapeless] technology has become robust enough to fully embrace.'
McCann added: 'Digitising the library will put Turner in a strong position to take advantage of emerging revenue streams and new work flows such as video on demand, broadband, mobile and integrated playout and production. We have been extremely satisfied with Ascent's service but bringing the system in-house will give us total control and flexibility over the entire channel creation process.'
About 12,000 hours of content - including films and cartoons for Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Toonami and TCM - are due to be digitised, enabling Turner's network of channels throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to be broadcast from video servers under automated control. Turner channels are broadcast across EMEA from 17 feeds in 25 languages. This move into a tapeless domain will make it easier for Turner to launch new channels and enable staff to access footage on their desktops.
Meanwhile, Steve Fish has been appointed vice-president of engineering at Turner. He joins from Ascent.