ProSieben develops its own management software
Integration in IT4TV
by Reinhard Wagner
Requests for special software products for news, production, administration and playout are rising rapidly. Proprietary solutions have so far failed to cover all requirements to support clients' needs. The ProSieben Group has developed its own software product, dedicated for use as an in-house solution and employed successfully over recent years.
After implementing third-party products into its own solution, the Group defined its requirements and developed a complete system solution. The first results were presented at NAB and IBC 2000. In the meantime, a beta version is under test, and the product, developed by ProSieben Information Service GmbH and distributed by system integrator IT4TV, is being readied for the broad television and production market.
ProSieben Information Service is a daughter company of ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG (100% shareholder); IT4TV, a subsidiary of ProSieben Information Service, is the distributor of the software products. Although it is unusual to market a product that was originally created for the needs of one particular commercial broadcaster, IT4TV now offers the Managing Software product -- created for the in-house use of the ProSieben-Group -- to everyone. "We are looking for a refinancing opportunity of our developing cost by reselling our products," says Sven Sinner, communication manager, ProSieben Information Service and IT4TV.
The first module was a booking system, which was very closely related to invoicing and accounting. Requests from partners inside the ProSieben Group led to development of modules for playout and program planning, facility management and an archiving system.
"Our system engineers, who work as software architects, create user cases for workflow optimisation before the first line of code is programmed," explains Sinner. "Internal beta tests, in conjunction with dedicated hard and software, are made for first verification purposes. This makes our products reliable and ensures a high level of quality."
The system runs on Informix and SQL databases and will be ported to Oracle in the future. CORBA is used as middleware. All dataset changes are performed in realtime on each client. All modules are available to the open market as standalone applications or an all-in-one-system solution.
ProMeSa is the AirTimeSales module, ProRun and ProPlan support scheduling, and ProLicense covers acquisition purposes and rights and management of material. ProArchive controls an archiving solution, ProNews is used in newsrooms, ProTrailer manages trailers, and ProCast monitors and controls human and machine resources.
Playout-IFs perform connections to third-party (Harris, Louth, Abit, etc.) playout/automation systems. UNIX systems are used for database servers, and client stations run either on Linux (SuSe) or Windows (98/NT/2000) OS in conjunction with 100BaseT networking, where there is no need for realtime.
For all newsroom applications together with ProNews, Gigabit Ethernet is proposed. ProNews runs on a decentralised model, so administrative work on a single client PC is unnecessary. It is available in Unicode, and Java allows location-independent working.
For administration of content (video, audio, text and data), ProContent and ProArchive are available. With this application solution, additional features beyond the regular work of an archivist are available: storyboard view by RetrievalClient, rough-cut of preview material by BrowsingClient, and IFs for licensing, planning and so on.
This system was developed in cooperation with tecmath. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) management will be available in a future release currently under development. The upcoming system will be an asset management system, because it manages content and rights -- which is increasingly important for secondary and tertiary use of material on the internet.
"Our modules and the all-in-one-system solution will be available at IBC 2001," says Heiko Gerdes, director, CMS, at ProSieben Information Service. "Since March 1, the call-in centre at Sendezentrum Munchen (SZM) has offered a 24-hour service and maintenance hotline. Anyone who shows an interest in our products can have a first look at our facilities in Munich."
Uwe Fritz, general manager, ProSieben Information Service GmbH, adds, "We are looking at the implementation of watermarking technologies and the global control of rights. But we believe our main market benefit is that we offer an all-in-one solution."