Last shift for TVC technology hub

Richard Vermuelen and Paul Zielinski finish the last broadcast operation shift in TVC Richard Vermuelen and Paul Zielinski finished their last shift at TVC on Friday

Another milestone has been reached in the BBC's exit from Television Centre.

The Central Communications Area - the BBC's technological hub since the opening of TVC in 1960 - finished its last ever operational shift on Friday morning, before its team of broadcast engineers left the building.

The last two night shift engineers, Richard Vermuelen and Paul Zielinski, were presented with commemorative tankards by Adam Siveyer, head of broadcast operations for Atos, who run the area on behalf of the BBC.

The breakfast event was also attended by Peter Coles, the BBC's acting chief technology officer.

Peel away the infrastructure

'The last programme makers left in March. Once we'd reduced the number of people relying on the hub, we could start to peel away the infrastructure that had supported them and the rest of the BBC,' explains Lynden Potter, head of technology delivery, major projects, infrastructure.

Start Quote

'The CCA function ... did what it was supposed to do right up until the last shift. Television Centre will re-open, but this particular function at the heart of the BBC won't return”

End Quote Lynden Potter Head of Technology Delivery, Major Projects, Infrastructure

But it will be more than a year before all the last links have been disconnected and Television Centre is handed over fully for re-development.

CCA has been the vital link between BBC sites and other broadcasters, in the UK and the rest of the world, for the last 50 years.

It gets sound and pictures back to the BBC from anything from war zones to sporting events, its banks of equipment - some dating back to the sixties - receiving, transmitting and monitoring satellite feeds and fibre optic cable links.

'It's like an organic cross section of broadcast technology of the last 50 years,' says Potter.

1960 handbook

And it's not just the hardware that's stood the test of time.

'We found a 1960 handbook which describes the operation in almost exactly the same terms as it would be described today,' says Potter, 'although using satellites for tv was spoken of as a prospect rather than a reality.'

New facilities have been built in London at the Broadcast Centre and New Broadcasting House as well as at a site out of London to replace TV Centre's CCA, with equipment being remotely controlled between the sites.

The engineers have moved to one of the new locations.

'It's a momentous occasion in the life of Television Centre,' considers Potter. 'The CCA function has been there in various incarnations since 1960 and it did what it was supposed to do right up until the last shift. Television Centre will re-open, but this particular function at the heart of the BBC won't return.'

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