TSI is back in business with Nick Doff returning to the helm. He spoke to Julian Clover
The transmission and playout business has grown considerably over recent years as the number of digital channels continues to mushroom. But there have been problems, last year TSI went into administration, and has now been acquired by former director Nick Doff.
“It was my first job ever, I left school when I was 18 and went to work for what was then a film company in Grape Street, and by the time I was 21 I was the director of a company that by then had spawned a video business,” explains Doff. As that company grew it was acquired the Molinare Studios and then itself purchased by WH Smith. Looking back its hard to equate the high street newsagent with the two thematic channels, Screensport and Lifestyle, it then ran. When WH Smith sold off TSI, Doff led a management buyout, picking up a contract from BBC World Service Television.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the post-production service developed a transmission business. First for the Granada Sky Broadcasting channels that were being fed into the Nordic market and later Fox Kids. Doff left in 2000, working on a number of projects, and vowing never to return to the post-production business.
Last summer TSI’s post-production business went bust, followed a few months later by the transmission side. With clients making alternative arrangements Doff chose to wait until the dust had settled. “The actual money spent on TSI by the time we bought it was a couple of million and we bought it for a lot less than a million [pounds].”
Doff says the business has changed considerably in recent years, and although there were other ancillary services provided, today it is much more files based. “Over the last two or three months we’ve been disposing of some equipment and planning new equipment to purchase. We definitely back in the market and talking to two or three potential clients.”
Doff says that the way the business will work is very different to the way it did in the past. Contacts have been signed with the main uplink companies such as Globecast and Arqiva to place services directly at the uplink sites and remotely play them out. “It’s a much more resilient service because these places have often been designed initially for military purposes,” says Doff. “Providing we can get a return of our sunk costs of £10,000 we can get them on-air very quickly.”
TSI would be able to take the content, ingest it, and then send it onto playout in the appropriate file format. Such a service would make sense for an international broadcaster, coping with multiple language versions.
The company is also working with Ed Hall’s Canis Media to provide channel management services including the sale of airtime and content acquisition.