Radio & Television News Association

Monday, August 07, 2006

Electronic Newsgathering Equipt to Change in Next Two Years

From Broadcasting & Cable Magazine.

The ENG Bonanza
By Glen Dickson

One vital link in the news-production chain is due for dramatic change over the next two years: the electronic newsgathering (ENG) equipment used to relay video from the field back to the studio.It's all going to be replaced, and paid for by wireless-phone giant Sprint Nextel.

That big change is happening because ENG is shifting from analog to digital microwave gear as part of an unusual $4.8 billion spectrum agreement the FCC brokered with Sprint Nextel in February 2005.

The deal moves some of Sprint Nextel's operations out of the 800 megahertz (MHz) frequency band, where its signals were interfering with public-safety communications. Sprint's frequency will become part of the 2 gigahertz (GHz) band. That's the part of the spectrum broadcasters currently use for ENG links.

To compensate broadcasters for moving off their ENG channels and converting to digital microwave gear on a smaller swath of spectrum, Sprint Nextel will pony up roughly $500 million for the equipment those stations will need. Digital ENG systems for standard news vans run $35,000-$50,000, plus the cost of multiple receive sites scattered around large cities; large-market stations may have 10 or more receive sites. Although Sprint Nextel is picking up the tab, broadcasters face an initial challenge in learning how to use the new digital ENG equipment.

Read the full story here.


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