Software blamed for ABC switching woes

Morpheus software used for switching has been blamed for numerous glitches the ABC and WIN have been experiencing since the broadcasters launched a new centre called MediaHub to handle switching programs, according to ABC program Media Watch.

Morpheus Software used for switching has been blamed for numerous glitches the ABC and WIN have been experiencing since the broadcasters launched a new centre called MediaHub to handle switching programs, according to ABC program Media Watch.

Errors which have been occurring include footage being stuck in a loop, advertisements not being aired and shows being interrupted with static images or broadcast logos.

At one point in time, according to Media Watch, ABC TV jumped in on the end of A Current Affair for around a minute.

Media Watch talked to a source who claimed that the Morpheus Software was chiefly to blame, as it couldn't handle changes to programming.

"You might want to change from a news break to the program, it might get stuck on the news studio and then go to black ... Sometimes it just won't go to an ad break or it might cut out of an ad break ... It's not uncommon for the software to freak out if you make too many changes to the schedule. It will lock up ... and the system will crash," said the source.

It would only take a typo for ABC to end up on WIN or vice versa, according to the source.

The program said that other employees had said the same things.

A source from Prime TV, which also uses the system, reportedly said that the software wasn't ready for prime time.

The ABC's chief operating officer David Pendleton did not mention Morpheus specifically in a letter of response to the program, but did say that the broadcaster had implemented significant changes, which can come with teething problems.

"The challenges have included complexity of new systems, movement to a computer-based environment, increased program switching and the need for staff to familiarise themselves with systems and requirements," he said.

The ABC told ZDNet Australia that it was unlikely to comment further on the matter.

The program also drew attention to problems the ABC had with MediaHub on 19 October where computers suffered a core switching fault that resulted in national disruptions to ABC1, ABC2 and ABC3 nationally from 4pm. ABC Sydney was able to be run through a manual presentation booth, according to Media Watch. Since other states were also receiving this feed, they weren't receiving the correct programs.

Pendleton pointed out that the ABC had doubled the delivery of content from 300 hours a week to 600 hours, increased switched events from 800 to 4000 hours and made two new ABC channels, ABC3 and ABC News 24.

On-air performance had improved, despite the rise in content, he said. ABC News 24 would not have been possible without the new centre, he added.

"I hope that Media Watch's critique of these issues is not trivialised by broadcasting a series of clips showing on-air mistakes strung together in a tabloid fashion," he concluded.

ZDNet Australia has contacted Morpheus and WIN for comment, but had not received a reply at the time of writing.