ARE YOU BORED OF WATCHING ERIC AND ERNIE SQUEEZING EACH OTHER'S ORANGES?

18/12/12

Christmas will shortly be upon us, the present buying frenzy has already started, the mince pies have been on sale since September and the much bemoaned Christmas television schedule will soon be with us.

Are you fed up of watching Eric and Ernie squeezing each other’s oranges? Do you join in Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Cookalong Live’? Have you figured out who done it in the EastEnders storeyline this year? And just what is the most watched film at Christmas on television?

We all watch Christmas TV whether we love it or hate it; we are drawn to it. It is one of the big discussion topics post-Christmas binge, along with ‘I ate too much’ or ‘the diet starts Jan 1st’.

But how does the Christmas schedule make it to air?

The process varies from client to client but initially the client has a channel scheduler who will decide on the draft content of the Christmas schedule, then this will be signed off by their management. The ‘presentation’ team will put in the junctions between programmes. This process starts three months ahead of the planned transmission dates.

The Media Distribution Services Planning team will receive this schedule six to eight weeks ahead of transmission and will begin to build and time the schedule. During the countdown to transmission they will be in constant contact with the client for any changes. The process is known across the business as the ‘Christmas pull up’.

Next in line is the MIA (Media Intake Area), they start the Christmas (tape only) pull-up in mid Nov. Then it’s on the MMO to be ingested to server or ASMMO (Access Services Media Management Operations) areas where the tapes are ingested and processed at transmission date ‘minus’ nine days. This is where subtitles or other access services are added.

Nearly all programmes play from the server with the tape kept in reserve as a back-up, but sometimes very late-delivered programmes cannot be ingested to the server in time for transmission. In this case the tape is played directly to air from a VT machine.

The PODs (Playout Directors) and Editors of the client suites take over on the day of transmission to ensure the schedule plays out on time and does not fall off air.

So once you have opened your presents, eaten the huge dinner, managed to squeeze in the pudding, the mince pies, the cake, the chocolates (just because they are there) and are ready to sit and watch the television to what may yet be another classic programme repeat, or a new Christmas special just think of the process and the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious people it’s taken to bring your Christmas television schedule to you.

Natalie Dowdell, Project Management