Religious programmer Trinity Broadcasting Network has
finished upgrading its Dallas
facilities, including its International
and local station KDTX-TV, to high-definition production.
TBN is also moving forward with HD upgrades for its WPGD in Nashville,
a process that is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009, and is starting
to plan for an HD upgrade to its WHXL in Orlando,
Fla., according to TBN chief of staff Paul
TBN has been one of the earliest and most aggressive of the
religious broadcasters in expanding its HD productions and facilities. Four
years ago, it upgraded its Costa Mesa, Calif.,
studio and facilities; and two years ago, it launched HD operations in New
TBN still has considerable work remaining in its transition
to HD, though, Crouch noted. "With 36 television stations to go, it is going to
be a big process and a long process," he said. Finishing the conversion for all
of TBN's stations, cable networks and production facilities could take as long
as 10 years.
Much of the impetus for the upgrades has come from the need
to replace aging equipment, Crouch explained. "The most compelling things on HD
are movies and sports," he said. "We do a fair amount of movies, but aren't big
on sports; and a lot of our shows are documentaries or are shows with talking
or singing heads.
"So HD was not quite as relevant for us as it might be for
some others. But we have a lot of legacy facilities that are aging and dying;
and we decided that rather than keeping a limping facility together, we would
just start from scratch and go HD from stem to stern."
Currently, TBN stations are not broadcasting in HD. "We've
been multicasting for about three years and are choosing to send out five
standard-definition channels over our multicast, as opposed to one HD and a
combination of SD channels" Couch Jr. said. "Right now, the HD feed is strictly
going out to Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse, and we're about to sign a deal
with [satellite-TV providers] DirecTV and Dish [Network] for the HD feed."
TBN HD is being offered free of charge to operators but differs
from the standard-def feed in that it only includes content that was originally
shot in HD or on film.
No timetable has been set for the start of HD broadcasts
from their owned-and-operated stations, Crouch Jr. added.
All of the upgrades, including the past and upcoming work,
are being handled by integrator TV Magic.
In Dallas, the
HD upgrades involved TBN's International
and four connected sites, including KDTX, a gymnasium that has been converted
to a large studio space and a 3,500-seat church equipped with 11 camera
For the Dallas
upgrades, TBN acquired Thomson Grass Valley Kalypso HD production switchers and
Jupiter and Concerto routers, as well as their LDK 4000 MK II HD Triax cameras
with Canon lenses. The facilities also are using the Evertz MVP multi-image
display, Sony monitors, the Avid Deko 3000 HD CG graphics system, Solid State
Logic C200 audio board and a Sennheiser wireless system.
Crouch noted that TBN plans to use many of the same vendors
in upcoming upgrades but will use Ikegami cameras for the revamped Nashville
and Orlando stations.
Costs for the upgrades have varied widely depending upon how
much equipment could be retained. So far, the New York
upgrade, which cost $5 million, has been the most expensive.
Crouch noted that he had first been impressed by the
work of integrator TV Magic while working for another religious broadcasters
and began using TV Magic for a variety of projects after he joined TBN
full-time in 2000. He particularly praised the integrator for its advance
planning, the quality of its work and for its ability to manage the upgrades
with minimal disruption to their other operations.