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Q: Setting up TV Station ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Setting up TV Station
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Television
Asked by: malteser-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 01 Feb 2003 15:34 PST
Expires: 03 Mar 2003 15:34 PST
Question ID: 156149
I would like to set up a little TV station with minimal running costs
and resources to run it.  It will air only one or two hours each day
either through digital cable transmission or airwaves.

My bet is a digital workstation but I have no idea whatsoever about
the basic equipment needed for the operation.

How would such a TV station be set-up?  What equpiment would it
basically need?

Also, where in Europe would it be possible to find such equipment
cheaply (used?), and service agreements be reached?

Request for Question Clarification by sycophant-ga on 07 Feb 2003 18:05 PST
Hi Malteser,

First of all, what part of the world are you in? These sorts of things
vary widely from place to place (well, the rules and procedures
anyway, the equipment is fairly standard).

And do you really want to broadcast on your own, or would you be happy
to produce your own content and pay to have it broadcast on an
existing community channel?

If you are really keen to broadcast on your own, what range do you
want (what is the smallest you'd be happy with) and how much is your
budget - this stuff ain't cheap.


Clarification of Question by malteser-ga on 08 Feb 2003 14:43 PST
Thanks for your help sycophant.

We are based in Malta (Europe).  Malta is a very small (186 sq miles)
island in the middle of the mediterranean.  Population is 400,000.

I haven't considered the opportunity of producing the one hour or two
hours daily at another TV station studio, but we would definately have
to broadcast it over our own channel.  Probably the cheapest way would
be to have our own studio with simply one or two cameras and god knows
what the rest of equipment need be.

It would be either broadcast using the public antennas or through
private cable channels.

As I told you, the most important thing to consider is the minimal
drain of resources (especially human) to run it and initial capital
Subject: Re: Setting up TV Station
Answered By: sycophant-ga on 08 Feb 2003 17:34 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for the opportunity to answer your interesting question.

There are really two quite separate parts to doing what you are trying
to – the production and then the broadcast.

Producing a low-cost high-quality show is becoming increasingly easy
as digital technology improves, and there is a strong second-hand
market for digital video equipment.

As far as cameras go, I would suggest a 3CCD camera, however there is
a good range within that grouping, such as:

Sony DSR-PD150

Canon XL1s

Panasonic AG-DVX100

All these cameras are professional quality cameras, available at a
much more affordable rate (around US$4000-5000 new). Some of the links
are to the NTSC versions, for your local production you will need to
find a PAL version. However all of these cameras are readily available

You will also need a tripod for each camera – I would suggest a
Manfrotto kit of the following components:

116Mk3 Head

500MV Tripod legs

Manfrotto is an Italian company, and their products are widely
available within Europe.

For post production, there are a range of software packages that are
specifically designed for editing DV footage. The two best known and
support ones at the moment are:

Apple Final Cut Pro
Designed to run on the Apple G4 computer, FCP provides an incredibly
powerful editing workstation for very low cost.

Avid Xpress DV
Xpress DV is the latest offering from Avid, the established industry
leader in non-linear editing systems. It runs on Windows XP or Mac OS
X, so can operate on PC or Apple hardware.

At the simplest level, with and camera, tripod and edit system, you
are more or less equipped to make television productions. However
there are a few other things you will probably need:

Lights – you will need a few lights. For field work and basic studio
work the following should be fine:

2x 600w Open face, such as Arrilite 600

1x 800w Open face, such as Arrilite 800

1x 2000w Open face, such as Arrilite 2000

Associated stands are also required, and additional lighting equipment
such as gels and scrims is also handy.

Sound equipment – if you want to do slightly larger productions
involving more than one or two people on camera, you will need some
basic sound equipment such as mixers and microphones. Here are some
Shure 3-channel FP-33 Mixer

Shure VP-64 Microphone

Shure SM-89 Shotgun Microphone

These are just some of the well known broadcast microphones available.
There is a huge range, and an excellent second-hand market world wide.

All these things together make a pretty well appointed production kit,
with plenty of room for future growth.

Broadcasting the material you have produced, however, is another
matter altogether.

Firstly cable broadcasting – according to the website of Malta Cable,
they were granted exclusive rights to provide cable TV to Malta in
1991, meaning the only way you would be able to provide a cable
channel would be through an arrangement with them, obviously I do not
know the situation on Malta so I can't say if that would be possible,
but I suspect that could be quite troublesome. (Malta Cable's website: – MSIE only)

UHF/VHF broadcasting – given the cable situation, you are likely to
find UHF/VHF broadcasting to be the only option open to you. These set
ups can be very complicated, however as Malta is so small, you may
find that the smaller hobby-type transmitters are suitable for your
needs, for example, the TVX-806/35PAL model
( has an optimal range of around
10 miles, which seems like it would cover most of Malta if broadcast
from Valletta.

Otherwise, larger transmitters are also available. An Italian company,
Advanced Broadcasting Electronics (
sells VHF/UHF transmitters from 1w to 10,000w – although most are
somewhat more complicated that the smaller transmitter above and will
require professional installation.

In it's simplest incarnation you would simply plug a VCR into the
transmitter and press play. However this can become much more
complicated when you start to look at things like advertising and
automatic scheduling. However as you have said you are only looking at
broadcasting one or two shows a day, it seems that you will probably
not need those facilities yet.

This sort of equipment is available second-hand, but is often not
advertised. Once you know what you are looking for, you should contact
people in the industry (especially those who specialize in setting up
TV broadcasting equipment) to look for contacts for second-hand sales.

It maybe possible in Malta to use pre-exisitng broadcast facilities to
send your signal, however I have not been able to find any
confirmation of any service like that. In my home country there is a
government owned company which owns and operates broadcast sites
around the country which broadcasters lease access to. These are the
national transmission sites – this is especially helpful with UHF
signals, which require a directional antenna, making multiple UHF
transmission sites a big problem for viewers.

Broadcasting legalities:

Malta has quite strong broadcasting legislation as well as content
guidelines. First and foremost,  you need a licence - “No person may
provide sound or television broadcasting services in Malta for Malta
or any part thereof without the licence in writing of the Authority.”
(Source: Malta Broadcasting Act –

I am not entirely sure after having read the act what the likelihood
of getting a licence is, but there is a strong emphasis placed on the
freedom to broadcast, so it looks quite promising in that respect.

There is no specific information on the procedure for applying for a
broadcasting licence on the Broadcasting Authority's website however.
Although a visit to the Broadcasting Authority's website is very
informative, and I would say vital if you are planning to become a
broadcaster –

In setting up your facilities, you will probably need to find someone
with existing experience to teach your staff about the operation of
the equipment, but on a small scale nothing you are doing should be
too complicated, and I am sure it will become second nature quite

The products I am suggested here are really just a guideline for the
type of products which are available and suitable. Many of these
products will be available second-hand or you maybe able to find
alternative products.

I did look for sites detailing the set up of a small television
station, but I could not find anything suitable. My information is
based on my interest in this technology as well as my small
involvement in the set up of a digital TV broadcasting outfit.

If I have left something out, or my suggestions seem a little off
target please let me know, I would be more than happy to provide
clarifications on my answer.


Request for Answer Clarification by malteser-ga on 09 Feb 2003 00:11 PST
Lovely reply.

I would have also liked to know about the running costs.  How much
work would be required to edit the shows?  And what about repairs and
such stuff?  What would be the best way to secure repairs?

Clarification of Answer by sycophant-ga on 09 Feb 2003 00:40 PST
Running costs for a small operation should be somewhat minimal, and if
I were engaging in a similar exercise I would have some reliance on
volunteer involvement to some extent, but I don't know what your
situation will be like.

With regard to editing, it depends on the content you are producing.
With a well scripted and planned produciton you can expect about 45
minutes of editing time per minute of finished footage - this will
vary of course, but can be a safe working guideline. News is generally
edited with the shortest turn around, I have editing 3 minute pieces
in under 30 minutes. And Drama is generally the longest turn around, I
spent over 400 hours making a 120-minute feature.

If equipment is purchased new it will include warranty cover, however
second-hand equipment will not normally. Cameras are normally sent to
localised service-centres for repair. Lights normally only need bulb
changes. Repair should not be needed for things like tripods and mics,
they either work or they don't.

Editing stations may need some maintainence, but this is more of an IT
issue and can generally be handled by a competent computer technician.

Be sure to insure everything against theft and accidental damage, it's
very important to have the equipment to make the station work.

In most cases, I would investigate repair and maintainence issues as
you purchase the equipment. If you buy new, cheap with the dealer
about options. If you are buying second-hand, contact the maker to
check on servicabilty.

You may find that for a small operation you only need a minimal number
of staff who will be able to operate in a number of roles. Many camera
operators are familiar with editing for example, and they should all
know about lighting and basic audio. A technician who may maintain the
broadcast equipment can probably also make minor repairs to equipment
and rig up simple devices as they are needed.

If you only have one camera, you may only need one staffer who can
direct, shoot and edit.

You should definately look for people with experience who share you
vision and will be motivated to help you succeed, as they will be
among the most important team members at the beginning.

It's hard to put numbers on these things, but a person with this sort
of job in the US might expect around US$45,000 for a fulltime position
with a small operation, but that's just one estimate, there are people
doing this for a lot less all over the world, and people doing it for
a lot more.

I hope that clears that up a bit.

malteser-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Speechless.  Great help indeed.

Subject: Re: Setting up TV Station
From: jbelkin800-ga on 06 Feb 2003 18:12 PST
You might want to start here and read all these.

as long as your intention is low powered and you live in a smaller
community, your chances are much better.
Subject: Re: Setting up TV Station
From: justaskscott-ga on 07 Feb 2003 18:34 PST
Re sycophant's comment:

It might be helpful to read malteser's prior question on this subject:
Subject: Re: Setting up TV Station
From: sycophant-ga on 08 Feb 2003 02:32 PST
Hey that is handy :)

Although I stil need some idea of budget, as 'cheaply' in the TV
broadcast world means a very different thing to cheaply in car sales

I'll start my looking into the regulations in Malta... Hmm... 


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