A Major Broadcast & Media Consolidation Challenge

A Mammoth Challenge

When Arqiva acquired BT’s Satellite services business in 2006, it created the UK’s largest satellite & media service provider.

The acquisition took place soon after the acquisition of another satellite service provider, Inmedia, which also had significant operational capability and multiple facilities.

The result was a disparate group of 12 teleports, three studios/playout facilities and eight master control rooms, located in the UK, Europe and the USA. The combined business delivered over 1500 services for bluechip broadcasters and corporates.

The challenge was to integrate three satellite service providers into one operating unit with a single operating model, single operations team, single support system and rationalised infrastructure.

Here’s how we did it.

Keeping it Simple – A New Operating Model

We needed a single operating model for the combined entity so that the multiple teleports and playout facilities could work together delivering value for the customer. The situation was made more complex by the variety of established legacy systems and processes, incomplete data sources and the challenge of taking 350 employees on the journey with us.

Adopting best practice, we implemented a three-layer support model with control rooms at level one, project and engineering support resource at level two and engineering specialists at level three. The new model was based on ITIL, which was an emerging service support framework suitable for broadcast services. Today, ITIL is very popular with broadcast and media companies. An important aspect was defining service ownership to encourage accountability.

We also created a new service management system using an ‘off the shelf’ tool from Alemba. We kept things simple by creating a new process framework using straightforward processes for commonly used workflows such as incident, change and problem management.

Root cause analysis and system trend analysis was introduced as part of this review and the concept of continuous improvement was embedded in the culture through a mix of heart (passion for excellent service) and mind (performance data).

We also spent considerable energy integrating the delivery teams with the sales and product teams to ensure the end-to-end customer experience was engaging and seamless.

Reducing Costs by Insourcing Network Management

Insourcing the network management was a key objective that would save the business significant, recurring opex. To enable this, we worked with a market-leading Norwegian telco provider, a rising star network equipment provider, to develop plans for an international video network based on high bandwidth network from global carriers and UK carriers. We also set up an internal network management centre at an existing 24/7 facility utilising skilled network engineers.

We augmented the three-layer support model with contractual agreements with vendors and carriers. Carrier-grade network management was provided to the service desk to enable effective control of a complex network carrying 1500+ TV, radio and data services. Developing this as an ‘internal network service centre’ we implemented service level agreements with Arqiva’s teleports and playout centres as ‘internal customers’.

The network was a considerable success, producing considerable annual cost savings, improving network availability and creating a competitive advantage for Arqiva. Today the technology is still adopted in Arqiva’s core network.

Engaging Customers

We had worked hard throughout the programme to communicate frequently with our customers, avoid unpleasant surprises and deliver on our promises. With frequent updates by phone, email and in person, customers were kept updated with progress. Effective communication is essential. Winning customers’ loyalty is always worth the effort.


The 12-month transformation programme was successful in delivering cost savings and a single operational support model with clarity of roles, effective support tools and processes. Above all, customer engagement was high and future revenues were secured.

And the lessons learnt?

  • Always put the customer first.
  • Make it easier for your teams during periods of organisational change by engaging hearts and minds.
  • Look for opportunities to reduce costs to pay for the programme, i.e. a positive cost-benefit!

For more information about how to consolidate facilities successfully, contact us at connect@HawkMediaPartnership.com

As Customer Services Director, Angus Blackwood was responsible for integrating the satellite & media businesses of Arqiva, BT and Inmedia.

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