Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) – Broadcasting Center / MCR

IP Technology for the ZDF Broadcasting Center

  • ZDF
  • TV
    Markets & Industries
  • Mainz, Deutschland

ZDF, with its headquarters in Mainz, is one of the largest public broadcasters in Europe. 3600 staff are employed in both Mainz and other regional studios throughout Germany. The broadcast center (BC) with its central control room, Euro control room, and central signal distribution needed to be replaced in accordance with new technical requirements. Therefore – and to permit a parallel structure – the new Main Control Room (MCR) and Central Apparatus Room were relocated to other areas.


In its capacity as the general contractor, BFE was responsible for the planning, installation, and initial startup of the new control room. The aim of this was to maintain the primary functionality of the MCR as an interface for real-time operation between internal users and external networks. As part of the transition to HD, the technical facilities at the broadcast center also had to be designed accordingly so that SD material produced could be converted to HD and distributed.


The MCR was set up as a completely redundant system and consists of various work areas for different tasks.

Five similarly equipped control room workstations can be coordinated and organized into master (AP 1-3) and CUA (AP 4-5) transmissions. Two specially equipped workstations (AP 6-7) were also set up in a separate event area for processing events.

An emergency workstation outside of broadcasting center 1 permits operation of technical facilities even if the MCR area is no longer accessible. Corresponding operating and control facilities were installed at broadcasting center 2 for use in emergencies.

The central element is BFE's own KSC system, which permits simple handling of HD content over an IP infrastructure. KSC thus controls the contribution network on the ZDF campus and all connected studios, as well as 42 Cisco routers in 19 different locations. The system supports Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint IP connections, and ensures high service quality thanks to KSC Path Finder and bandwidth management.


  • Structure as IP solution, controlled by BFE's KSC systems

    • Control of routers in 19 different locations

    • Intelligent signal pathway management with KSC Path Finder

  • Convenient control and preparation facilities guarantee the implementation of various circuitry tasks:

    • The previous Jupiter control system is replaced by a central control system consisting of KSC Commander and KSC Manager

    • BFE's KSC Circuit Manager allows graphics-based circuitry events to be created

    • Complex circuit operations are planned in advance and resources are reserved using BFE's KSC Event Manager

    • The signal network is controlled via KSC Silknet Manager, providing a visual display of the elements to be controlled, such as routers and IP gateways

  • All furniture and monitor brackets were designed by BFE and manufactured at their factory in Germany

Equipment details:

  • Fully redundant MCR set up

  • Linking all relevant signals from the peripheral areas via fiber-optic connections to a central transmission point and from there directly to the optical inputs of the video routers in the control room

  • Embedded transmission of audio signals

  • Distribution system with two independent systems: a central video router system and a signal network with video transmission via IP/MPLS network

  • Transparent processing of multi-channel sound in the form of Dolby-E signals


  • Control room: Miranda routers and multiviewers, Nevion monitoring router and RS422 metadata router

  • LAWO central audio component router; audio signal modifications and adaptation of relevant audio signals by means of DPS components, combined with Lynx embedders/de-embedders

  • Distribution modules, audio/video converters, embedders/de-embedders, all optical to electrical and electrical to optical converters in the cable network from Lynx

  • Evertz L-band router and analog video-to-glass converter

  • Structure of the video-over-IP network: includes ASR 9000 routers and Cisco DCM gateways

  • Control system operation: BFE hardware operating devices or KSC Pilot clients and KSC Manager clients

  • BFE HD device series operating devices installed and freely configurable as BD 17/32/51/51P and 68, depending on the application

  • BFE fault signaling system SNMP monitoring system SINAlarm, based on freely configurable plug-ins and integration of device-specific services, including the interface to the BFE KSC system