Primetech expands Outside Broadcast communications support with Blackthorn Productions vehicle in Northern Ireland

Primetech has supplied and is supporting a Ka-band satellite system for Blackthorn Production in Northern Ireland. This new installation, which has been used very successfully to support outside broadcasting (OB) in the province, builds on Primetech’s existing work for Sky News, where it is supplying a number of satellite systems for use by UK newsgathering teams based in Land Rover vehicles.


Blackthorn Productions’ Outside Broadcast unit uses a C-Com Ka-band satellite system supplied by Primetech to support major broadcast clients such as BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and RTE 2FM.

According to Henry Walker of Primetech, ‘This new and rapidly evolving and expanding form of low-cost outside broadcasting, using the vast new capacity and ease of use of Ka-band systems supplied by C-Com, combined with the power of internet television, is helping to drive completely new types of outside broadcasting.  This is allowing organisations to broadcast which would have previously been prevented from doing so by high barriers to entry, especially equipment cost.'

David Walker of Blackthorn Productions said the following: ‘Blackthorn Productions is a production company based in Northern Ireland and it has been operating for more than 15 years. Our main clients are BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and RTE 2FM.

‘In the spring of 2013, we purchased an iNetVu KA 75V system for our new OB unit. We went with the KA 75V and TooWay to suit our connection needs for transmitting audio.  The unit itself is very compact and lightweight, which is suitable for mounting to the roof of a van. It only took two of us and a stepladder to place it there.  Its control interface only takes up one U in a conventional rack, leaving us plenty of space for the remainder of our broadcast chain.

Blackthorn-cathedral1‘It has proven to be ultra reliable, with the vast majority of the time the unit quickly acquiring the satellite link with the push of a single button, and we can be on the air within minutes if needs be.  In over one year we have never not got a broadcast out, some of which have been in less than ideal circumstances e.g. parking on slopes, at the bottom of hills with no option but to have parked the van westerly or in high wind scenarios etc.  

‘At the beginning, as with any new piece of equipment, there can be quite a learning curve when configuring and commissioning the equipment, I have to say we have found Henry Walker and his team very accommodating, knowledgeable and always willing to answer the phone, even at odd hours when we had stupid questions.  We have even had a three-way conference call with us in Northern Ireland, Henry in England and a Canadian team updating our system software via a remote access. 

‘Overall we would recommend the KA 75 V platform especially with support from Primetech.’

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