When Every Second Counts

DQI Bureau
New Update

It was the first episode of Prannoy Roys, The World This Week on November

25, 1988 that marked a historic revolution in Indian television. Being the first

program by a private producer, the thirty-minute show aired every Friday was a

huge hit among Doordarshan viewers. Twenty-two years later, the small production

house has turned into a leading media group.


Today, NDTV runs three round-the-clock news channels, along with an

entertainment channel and a lifestyle channel. It has also forayed into

technology and post-production services with NDTV Labs and NGEN Media Services,

respectively. With such diversification, it has truly grown into a leading

broadcaster in the country.

"Being in the broadcast industry, IT is all-pervasive in our operations,"

points out KY Iyer, head, IT, NDTV. The challenge is to be on air 24x7 keeping

all its twenty-three offices and studios spread across multiple locations under

one loop. "Digitization has helped us in a big way, especially because every

second counts for us. From proprietary black box hardware, we have moved to an

IT platform where all equipments are running on software, mostly on Microsoft or

Linux platform. Right from video capture, storage, editing, graphics, to

transmissionall our functions are digitized today," informs Iyer.

We did not rely on a single IT solutions

provider for all our functions
KY Iyer, head, IT, NDTV

Stage One

The role of IT begins at the very stage of news gathering. The reporting

teams use flash drives to record video footage, which itself is based on IT.

Once back to the editing room, there are flash card readers installed on all

editing work stations through which the footage is uploaded on a hi-speed

gigabyte network. The network enables the footage to be accessed across all

seventy-five editing stations. Hence, its no more system dependant. As for

editing, it has moved from linear VTRa closed proprietary editing systemto a

non-linear video and audio production editing platform by Avid Technology.

"The shift started in 2003, and it took us six months to fully adapt to a

digitized platform," says Iyer. One of the key challenges that the organization

faced was of software integration. "Unlike a majority of organizations, we did

not rely on a single IT solutions provider for all our functions. Rather we went

for best-of-breed multiple vendors. This raised integration issues, but they

were successfully handled by our team," says Iyer.

In Transition

While smooth transmission on the front-end is a key function for any media

house, data storage at the back-end is equally important. With a huge amount of

data being added every day, storage was turning into a major issue. Servers were

on direct attached storage (DAS) which was not expandable. The company needed a

network that could consolidate storage on all servers, hence, increasing storage

capacity and protection. Therefore, it went for Dell EqualLogic PS Series SAN

solution and deployed Dell EqualLogic PS Series 5000E on Microsoft Windows

Server platform with 3.5 terabytes of storage. Today, SAN acts as a single

storage solution as well as provides disaster recovery protection.

Another interesting development in the last few years has been the

mushrooming presence of SMS feedback by viewers. "For this, we have tied up with

telecom service providers, whereby collating of SMSs by viewers is done by a

third-party service provider, while the processing of those SMSs and generating

them on air is done by us," says Iyer.

Monalisa Das