IBM Global Services today announced a $10 million contract to digitally archive and store the ABC's television and radio history, preserving the programs for years to come.
In an Australian first, more than 40 years of television and 60 years of radio history stored on ageing analogue tape will be converted into digital data by IBM.
More than 100,000 tapes with programs from Bananas in Pyjamas and Dr Karl to Four Corners and educational documentaries, will be converted into 500 terabytes of data.
Each program will then be immediately available online via the ABC's digital network, allowing staff to instantly access, re-use and adapt them as required.
Converting the analogue tapes will also prevent sound and quality degradation, preserving one of Australia's most important broadcast archives.
IBM Global Services Australia and New Zealand communications sector general manager Stephen Camerlengos said there is a unique digital divide within the broadcast industry.
He said many ABC programs are already being recorded in a digital format as standard. Conversely, the challenge has been working with older analogue programs, as they don't allow the flexibility and immediacy offered by digital.
"This project will mean the ABC has one ongoing archive, past, present and future, all in the same format and all easily accessed at any moment," Camerlengos said.
"The project's goal is to re-purpose the audio and footage that is otherwise destined to become useless as the tapes grow old."
The project will use open standards-based software such as IBM's DB2 Content Manager, WebSphere Application Server and VisualAge Professional, Tivoli Storage Manager and IBM TotalStorage LTO Ultrium (Linear Tape Open), eServer pSeries and xSeries hardware integrated into the ABC's existing infrastructure.
The digital conversion starts this year and is expected to be completed in 2006.