SABC honours Pete Knevitt

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Pete Knevitt, “the champion of innovation in the South African broadcasting sector”, will be taking his final bow from broadcasting, at the end of September 2019, after having served SABC, the public broadcaster, with distinction, since 12 January 1977.

David Mathe, currently GM: TVBR (acting) pays homage to his cherished colleague: “Unlike most retirees, at the end of their tenure, Pete is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, he has upped a gear, in his new role as the acting Technical Support Manager, by implementing various new projects as if to make his final mark on the champions plague by ensuring that it is way out of reach for his successors. He indeed has the purpose and passion of one who has just been hired rather than that of someone who is about to retire.”

“Pete’s footsteps are deeply engraved in South African broadcasting’s technical fraternity and any one worth his salt, will doff their hat to him in admiration of all his achievements and more so in respect for his quiet demeanour. He has occupied many roles during his long illustrious career at the SABC but his most significant role still remains that of a Principal Technologist (Hi-Tech Manager), during which time he set the broadcasting scene alight with multiple broadcasting firsts.”

Some of the most memorable ones are:

  • Being part of the team who created the first third umpire system and developed the first stump cameras for the SABC. This system is still in use today, internationally, and plays an integral part of officiating all cricket matches.
  • Designing and building one of the first control systems to perform vision control of wireless RF cameras. This has allowed remote cameras on motor bikes and helicopters, during marathons and most major productions, to be accurately vision-controlled to match the rest of the production cameras. His humorous claim to fame is that he partook in more than 30 Comrades Marathons but never crossed the finish line once. Let us hope that one day the Comrades marathon association can honour him by granting him his wish of officially crossing the Comrades finish line.
  • He introduced IP comms to the SABC which was successfully used by SABC Sport and Super Sport during the recent London Olympics for their production comms. This innovation continues to be improved and is slowly becoming the de facto standard for all SABC productions.
  • His technical team, under his stewardship, completed the regional editing upgrade project wherein all the SABC regional News facilities, across the country, were converted from analogue to nonlinear digital editing systems. This was paired to a fully digitized archive system, something that the broadcaster is still struggling to implement on a comprehensive basis.
  • An esteemed Broadcast Technologist, Knevitt’s recent contribution to the SABC involved delivering an ingenious technical solution, particularly for the SABC News, by putting together an unconventional hybrid satellite technology, in partnership with ND Satcom, that enables deployment of crews anywhere and anytime using IP over Mobile networks and Satellite Links.
  • He also implemented fiber interconnectivity between OB trucks which has remarkably reduced the time and costs whilst at the same time increasing the quality and efficiency of interlinking various OB vehicles during large productions.
  • He led the team that developed the multipurpose Mobile Control Room to facilitate the seamless distribution and contribution of various video signals during major productions such as the National Elections.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all Knevitt’s achievements and his ferocious appetite to keep improving.

His most incredible achievement though, and one that is constantly overlooked, is the legacy that he has left at the SABC. Knevitt has inspired many a young technicians at the SABC and he leaves behind a team that is as capable and willing to lift the SABC to the next level of broadcasting excellence.

For now though, the SABC would like to acknowledge the indelible mark that Knevitt has made at the public broadcaster during his illustrious career. “We consider ourselves extremely lucky to have brushed shoulders and worked with such and unassuming genius. May his future endeavors be as or more fruitful than his past wins,” Mathe concludes.

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