CanWest Global Toronto's expansion includes Wheatstone's TV-80
December 19, 2002

by -- Broadcaster Magazine

New Bern, NC (December 17, 2002) -- CanWest Global Toronto's Operations and Engineering staff was recently challenged with the task of selecting a replacement for a 14 year-old dated, analog board with limited resources and numerous intermittents.

The facility's main audio control room was undergoing a significant expansion as part of a larger project to enhance the organization's live news capabilities and it was quickly determined that a stronger audio console was needed to support the increased news coverage and requirements. An additional goal was to anticipate the growth of news services including a morning show and increased network responsibility.

A search and evaluation process was launched that brought numerous broadcast console manufacturers' representatives to CanWest Global Toronto where the operations and engineering team fired questions at the reps about their products' ability to deliver.

"We've worked most broadcast consoles out there, checked out other operations and diligently studied all the available resources," said Bob Burns, Director of Technical Services for Global. "Wheatstone was our favorite for this application, but we were determined that the audio engineers operating the equipment be involved in the final decision. Each operator was asked to voice his/her opinion. When the votes were tallied, we discovered that the entire team agreed on Wheatstone."

John McEwen, Technical Producer for CanWest added, "In June 2001 we were invited to tour Wheatstone's facility in New Bern, North Carolina. The visit was a positive experience that gave us an opportunity to see Wheatstone's plant in action. Jim Peck, our sales representative, introduced us to the people responsible for manufacturing and servicing the products as well as the principals of the Company. The more we learned about Wheatstone, the more our comfort-level grew.

"Wheatstone made certain all our questions were satisfied about how the consoles are built and arranged to have a TV-80 available so we could not only see it, but become familiar with it's performance and operations. Actually seeing the exact console type we were eventually to order enabled us to imagine it in its new room, and allowed us to plan properly for the necessary ancillary support equipment. Getting a close look at Wheatstone's other products confirmed that we was dealing with a quality organization."

Following the lead of sister station BCTV in Burnaby, BC, CanWest Global Toronto chose a Wheatstone TV-80 audio console. BCTV recently installed the TV-80 to support the popular 'Sports Page' program. The Toronto board brought the total count of Wheatstone consoles purchased by CanWest Global to five.

Critical challenges included time and space allocation. A serious upgrade was underway that needed to be accomplished in short order. In addition, being a major market broadcaster necessitated remaining on-air during construction, which was achieved with a side-by-side temporary console while the old one was removed. The cutover had to be seamless - a task that demanded extreme organization and preparation. A strategy was formulated that required some extra effort but proved extremely effective. Using Styrofoam and cardboard, CanWest Global's staging department fabricated an exact copy of the control room, including all the equipment.

The console was placed in the "mock" studio so operators could train in an artificial but realistic environment, become familiar with the console, and address all operational issues prior to going live with it. It served as a sort of dress rehearsal and helped minimize the learning curve. The "mock" environment also afforded the opportunity to maximize the design of the room. The layout was perfected before anything was bolted down and wired in the new studio.

"The TV-80's dedicated IFB mix-minus busses was one of the console's most attractive features for the station's significant increase in live news production," said Burns. "Our upgrade resulted in a huge live news element including a Helicopter, Microwave Trucks, Satellite Trucks as well as fibre hook-ups. Between six and ten live remotes are now produced in each one-half hour program and the TV-80's ample mix-minuses give reporters the ability to communicate with the station as well as the ability to hear each other. This feature strengthens our reporters' participation in the newscast, an invaluable tool for a news-intensive broadcaster in the highly competitive market of Toronto. Wheatstone's mix minus capabilities are absolutely untouchable by any other manufacturer.

"The TV-80 offers a true broadcast console with a sturdy mechanical design without the crowded real estate issue seen on other consoles. It is capable of sending two stereo master and two mono master feeds to the network if necessary. More stereo or mono outputs can be created simultaneously than is usually needed with its available group, masters and aux outputs.

The Wheatstone console is extremely operator friendly and has lived up to expectations."

"In short, the console is everything we expected and since it was
commissioned in May 2002 we have a stronger audio environment than we ever had in the past", added McEwen.

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