Digital failure at Voice of America MONDAY PM UPDATE

BBG Watch Commentary

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and Voice of America (VOA) digital meltdown saga continues. VOA broadcasters are becoming increasingly desperate.

Our contacts said that new BBG CEO John Lansing, who has been on the job only a few months and cannot be blamed for these failures, may still not have a good idea how truly unhappy BBG journalists, broadcasters, other media professionals and, above all, contract employees, are these days with the longtime management team he inherited. A $400 million class action lawsuit against the agency was filed last week by BBG’s and VOA’s contract employees.

“Only in government does this not result in rolled heads. If we had shareholders this would not be acceptable for a minute,” a Voice of America journalist who for obvious reasons does not want his name used told us in response to the latest digital equipment failure.

An experienced Voice of America journalist who had left the organization in disgust some time ago wrote:

 

“Think about this (I’m sure you have already). What other major organization, and its senior people in charge of infrastructure, would survive the kind of repeated foul ups seen in this Dalet and other system fiasco since 2009?
 
How long would CNN or MSNBC be around if this happened to them as frequently as it has with VOA?”

“What you need to know is that the place is a mess on all fronts,” wrote a former BBG technical professional. “Someone told me that one description of the place we haven’t heard heretofore is, “the F Troop of broadcasting, after the TV comedy years ago,” a former VOA employee said.

A “Former Senior Broadcaster” left this comment on our blog:

“Take any private/commercial network — MSNBC, CNN, FOX, you name it — and they would be off the air, and people fired, if they allowed these kinds of continuous failures. But — it’s good enough for government work!”

 

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From: IBB Notices Admin
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 3:42 PM
To: IBB Notices Administration
Subject: Media Grid Upgrade – December 28, 2015

What You Need To Know About the MEDIAGRID UPGRADE
Monday, December 28, 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM
————————————————————————————————————-

The IT Directorate will take down the agency’s core high resolution video storage platform and the DaletPlus content management system between *6 P.M. MONDAY NIGHT and 12 A.M. TUESDAY MORNING, December 28th, 2015 – December 29th, 2015* as part of our emergency maintenance response to system instability.

During the MediaGrid upgrade, there will be NO access to high resolution video, Dalet Plus or DP WebSpace.

Please take special note that the DaletPlus application will be shut down at 6:00 pm and will not be available again until 12:00 am to accommodate the large number of files to be indexed on the MediaGrid.

No additional action need be taken on your part. An announcement to the staff will be forthcoming when the systems are back online.

Until the maintenance is completed, it is essential that all language services continue to be prepared to utilize our control room video play-out backup system (BlackMagic). Attached is the Black Magic Video Playout Instructions.

We apologize to our Broadcast Community for this inconvenience and appreciate your support in this matter as we address this maintenance issue.

As usual, this scheduled downtime may be delayed or aborted at the last minute in the event of major breaking news. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please contact the Technical Support Services Directorate’s Computer Support Center at 202-382-7200.

Larry G. Rubendall
Deputy for Information Technology

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From: Ted R. Tate
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 3:36 PM
To: VOA MEDIA TEAMS; VOA Newsroom; IT Digital Management Division
Cc: Technology Support Services Directorate; TSS Managers; Information Technology and CIO Managers; VOA Broadcast Operations Managers; Digital Support Team; VOA TV Studio Directors; Terry Balazs; Andre Mendes
Subject: Update 3: DaletPlus Omneon Media Grid Unavailable

The Omneon Media Grid continues periodically to be a problem today. Our latest report is that we have experienced another incident and it is NOT available for use. This is the network portion that handles high resolution video. All language services must be prepared with a backup plan for video playback. The system administrators are currently looking into the issue to see what immediate actions can be taken.

Digital Management Division will be performing emergency maintenance this evening to prevent further occurrences. Maintenance tonight is expected to begin around 6 PM and last up to 6 hours.

The Dalet application remains available but no media operations in the Control Rooms will be possible until the Media Grid is back online. Please use the emergency pre-production workflow to prepare for broadcast production.

We will keep you informed of any changes or updates. We apologize to our Broadcast Community for this inconvenience and appreciate your support in this matter.

*NOTE*
The DaletPlus Trainers have put together some tools to assist the Broadcast Community in the event of any TV production emergency when the actual DaletPlus application is not operational. Please find those tools in the following location:

Ted

Ted R. Tate
Lead IT Specialist
Digital Media Support Division

 

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From: Steve McClain
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 8:12 AM
To: VOA MEDIA TEAMS; VOA Newsroom
Cc: Technology Support Services Directorate; TSS Managers; Information Technology and CIO Managers; Terry Balazs; Andre Mendes
Subject: DaletPlus Omneon Media Grid
 
ALL:
 
Starting at about 7:49am this morning, we started experiencing a house-wide issue with the Omneon Media Grid. This is the network portion that handles high resolution video. All language services must be prepared with a backup plan for video playback. The system administrators are currently looking into the issue to see what the cause may be and how to quickly resolve the issue.
 
The Dalet application remains available but no media operations in the Control Rooms will be possible until the Media Grid is back online. Please use the emergency pre-production workflow to prepare for broadcast production.
 
We will keep you informed of any changes or updates. We apologize to our Broadcast Community for this inconvenience and appreciate your support in this matter.
 

 
Steve M. McClain
IT Specialist
Digital Media Support Division 

 

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SEE: Technical and management troubles don’t cease at Voice of America, BBG, BBG Watch, December 28, 2015

 

SEE: Voice of America broadcasters fed up with technical mishaps, BBG Watch, December 24, 2015

 

SEE: $400M class action suit may signal more trouble ahead for new BBG CEO, BBG Watch, December 28, 2015

 

SEE: Power outage disrupts Voice of America broadcasts, BBG Watch, December 7, 2015

 

SEE: Voice of America power and broadcasting outage UPDATE, BBG Watch, December 8, 2015

 

SEE: BBG employees ‘crippled’ by technical breakdowns ‘lose confidence’ in leaders, BBG Watch, December 22, 2015

 
 
 
 

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