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ABC digitizes KGO's news tape library

ABC Owned Television Stations this spring has finished digitizing, cataloging and storing the news tape library of KGO, making stories dating back to the 1970s readily available to producers at KGO and other ABC O&Os, TVNewsCheck reports.

The project has reduced an old tape library filling 2,000 square feet into a device the size of a medium-size shipping box containing a little over a petabyte of data. The digitizing was done robotically, with a machine that archived about 1,000 tapes, or 50,000 stories, per week, according to Jim Casabella, director of advanced technology for the station group.

It was important to digitize the tapes now because some of them, particulary U-matic tape, was deteriorating and might not be readable in the future.

The difficultly, Casabella said, was finding old videotape machines that could playback the tape.

ABC has also digitized the tape libraries of WABC New York, WLS Chicago and WPVI Philadelphia. KABC Los Angeles and KTRK Houston are next.
Digitizing aging news videotape is important from a historical point of view, Casabella said.

“I would encourage people to face up to the fact that they need to preserve their libraries.”

“You can’t make a business case for doing it, but on the other side of the equation is the fact that the three or four stations that have been doing news for the past 35 years in these markets have created the only video library of the important events in their cities,” Casabella said.
“There isn’t anything else. If those are gone, that video record is gone.”

While KGO’s new digital library isn’t available to the public, San Francisco State University’s Leonard Library offers a collection of old news footage online at http://www.library.sfsu.edu/about/collections/sfbatv/index.php?over=1. The SF State collection includes film from KRON, KPIX, KTVU and KQED.

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