ABC Leases HD Production Facilities at Andrita

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ABC Daytime has inked a
long-term agreement with the Andrita Media
Center in Los
Angeles that will allow the broadcaster to begin
producing its daytime soap All My
Children
in HDTV in January of 2010.

Under the agreement, ABC
has leased the 18,000-square-foot Andrita Stage 1; the 10,000-square-foot
Andrita Stage 2; a variety of camera and production facilities; and production
and dressing-room offices, according to Bill Tillson, president and chief
operating officer of Andrita owner Broadcast Facilities Inc.

ABC Logo

The production of All
My Children
will be done in 1080i and delivered to ABC in 720p in the D5
format. For the production, Andrita will supply all of the engineering-support
staff and ABC will bring in all the crew, including camera operators and
editors, Tillson said.

Andrita's HD infrastructure, the facilities' long experience
in high-definition production and its size were major factors in ABC's
decision.

The Andrita facility was originally built by Playboy with a standard-definition
infrastructure and then upgraded to HD when it was acquired by BFI.

"We upgraded the facility over four years ago to provide
product for [the defunct] Voom [suite of HD networks], so we were one of the
early adopters of HD," Tillson said. "We've been fully HD, both in transmission
production and post production, for almost five years."

Sound-stage and facility size were also important in the
deal.

"One of things that was very appealing to ABC
was that we have been able to give them 28,000 square feet of contiguous production
space," Tillson said. "It is a lot more space than they had in the past. That
will allow them to keep most, if not all, of their sets standing at any one
time so they won't have to interrupt production to reset or bring back sets."

The Andrita 1 and 2 stages comes with multiple Sony HD
cameras that will allow All My Children to
be produced with five cameras in 1080i. Other equipment includes Sony HDCam
recorders, Sony digital Betacam recorders, 4-Channel Sony MAV
55 video servers, the WinCue teleprompter system and ETC
Lighting Control position from the Production Control Room.

The upgraded HD Andrita facilities won't require any
"material upgrades," but BFI will be rebuilding the production offices and dressing
rooms and will be outfitting two edit bays and two sound rooms to their
specifications, noted chief technology officer Tom Mikkelsen. It will also be
upgrading the monitor wall to all-LCD displays.

Daytime television has been among the last daypart to move
to high-definition production and the switchover illustrates how most shows are
now being produced in HD.

"When 25% to 30% of the population has a robust bouquet of
HD channels, most broadcasters have reached the decision that they can't afford
to miss that population," Tillson said. "Over the last 12 to 18 months, we've
gone from maybe a 50/50 split between standard-definition and high-definition
productions, but now we are seeing virtually everyone shooting in HD."

Besides the production facilities being leased by ABC,
Andrita's other production stage is occupied by GSN.

The facility provides a wide range of origination and
digital media services. Twenty-four networks, including such programmers as MGM
HD, Hallmark Movie Channel HD and Tennis Channel HD, originate at Andrita;
Tillson expects to add six more networks in upcoming months.

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