Albania’s A1Report takes innovative approach to sports content

Based in Albania but international in its reach thanks to the Hotbird satellite, the A1Report television channel is available on analogue and DVB-T, as well as via a web-streaming service.

Technical director Olger Teneqexhi outlines the purpose of the channel: “We are operational 24/7 with news and information in a continuous cycle. Politics, events and economic news are central, while we dedicate a very important moment to sports at the end of every newscast. We run a team of eight reporting troupes with different cameras in full HD, some from Panasonic, and some can be remotely controlled.”

A1Report is an entire TV channel of advanced live graphics and picture-in-picture which presents a very particular graphic skin: the layout is composed of several areas of different sizes, a few occupied by video services, others exclusively composed of graphics with images on rotation and animated text with effects.

There is extensive interview material of contemporary events and sports people, alternating with an ample area dedicated to sports, displayed both at the end of the news programme as well as in the section on the upper right of the screen, where the main headlines are shown. All are handled with “news reporting criteria” and not in the manner of some traditional sports coverage.

What the spectator sees at home, therefore, is a mosaic of “pictures in pictures”, with graphics always shown and two main frames of different sizes where the most important news items rotate on a continuous cycle.

The background graphics run synthetic ticker text on rotation along with related phones. On the right, the graphics report current news, social events and the latest updates of the day.

Olger Teneqexhi outlines some of the most primary kit being used: “For production and transmission, we use a video Mixer by Blackmagic Design, Atem2 and playout by XTV, plus various software by ClassX that allows us, through a connection with our CMS, to reproduce the photograph of the person interviewed and the environment. Every story is [represented] by about 70 text characters and three photos.

“The flexibility of the graphics modules allows us to switch from the news with photos and text to a system based on the broadcasting of a compressed video from a live feed in every box. The implementation of the second picture-in-picture will allow us not to interrupt the presentation of the main story displayed in the larger picture-in-picture.”

Below this graphic area the A1Report TV channel proposes an area for the display of advertising contributions or promos for the various programmes.

The list of video formats supported includes files in MPEG2, AVI, Windows Media Video, Xvid and others that are put on air in a pre-established sequence.

Horizontally, on the lower part of the screen an area-defined ‘banner’ allows for the insertion of advertisements in a graphic-text form paired with one or more photos of the product.

In the lower part of the screen a ticker is connected to various RSS feeds, the A1Report site, the BBC, CNN and Reuters, with text in English and Albanian.

Teneqexhi notes: “The LiveBoard module by ClassX manages the whole flow of information and related broadcasting through graphic templates created using specific modules set up for the purpose.

“All of the commands and all of the updates arrive from our main central CMS station, the same one that populates the contents of our website. Everything is managed by a front-end [and] remotely operated with real-time changes. We can compose up to four live videos simultaneously on the screen with graphic inserts synchronised and positioned as desired in the “picture in picture” in a dynamic way, basically with all of the layout changes necessary.”

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