SALISBURY, Md.- WBOC is proud to broadcast Delmarva's first and only local high definition television newscasts! WBOC's HD newscasts originate from a spectacular $13 million digital broadcast operations complex called the NewsPlex.
The NewsPlex is an 11,340-square-foot state-of-the-art high definition digital broadcast facility. It was constructed behind WBOC's current studios at 1729 North Salisbury Blvd. in Salisbury, Md.
"High definition is absolutely stunning," said Craig Jahelka, vice president and general manager of WBOC/FOX 21. "Once you experience high def, it's hard to watch anything else. But even people who don't have an HD set will notice a much better picture at home." High definition television is the best type of digital TV. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is similar to a movie theater screen.
"The NewsPlex is not just an HD set; it's also a working newsroom. We engineered it with the audience in mind," said WBOC-TV News Director John Dearing. "The technology in the NewsPlex is designed to help us deliver information instantly, any way people want to receive it. Whether it's on TV in HD, on a mobile device or over the Internet, we'll provide it instantly. In fact, our Wboc.com editors are located right in the middle of the action so they can get information posted on the Web instantly."
The NewsPlex features a rotating anchor desk which can be positioned to show different portions of the working newsroom in the background. This design presented a challenge. As the anchor desk changes position, traditional fixed television lighting, hanging from a ceiling grid, would create shadows. Set designers solved this problem with a unique solution. Anchor lighting moves with the set so that the lights are always in perfect position.
Traditional set lighting is used in the rest of the NewsPlex, including the Storm Tracker Weather Center. WBOC-TV meteorologists will utilize the latest HDTV weather graphics and two giant rear-projection HDTV screens to show the most-detailed weather information available anywhere on Delmarva. The NewsPlex features cutting-edge technology which includes robotic cameras, digital computer editing and nearly 100 HDTV screens to monitor incoming news stories.
Hiding more than 10 miles of cables, connecting all the digital equipment, presented another unique challenge. Salisbury, Md. architectural firm Becker Morgan Group solved it by raising the floor. The NewsPlex sits atop a surface of removable flooring panels, which provide access to wiring, switches and substructure below. Gillis Gilkerson Incorporated of Salisbury, Md. was the general contractor.
Designed by The FX Group in Orlando, Fla., the NewsPlex evolved from a sketch drawn on a napkin five years ago when WBOC began thinking about designing the HD newsroom of the future. Construction of the NewsPlex coincides with television's transition from analog to digital. By law, all full-power television stations in the United States must turn off their analog transmitters by June 12, 2009, switching entirely to digital broadcasts. While most stations have begun broadcasting digital signals, most have not yet converted their locally-produced newscasts to high definition. This includes stations in many large markets such as the CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates in Baltimore.
WBOC, FOX21 and WBOC Interactive are locally-owned and operated by Draper Holdings, which also owns Loblolly, LLC.
For more information on television's switch to digital, click here .
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