John Sykes

Engineer , and

Winner of the Engineer of the Year Award

Engineer of the Year
John Sykes was named ‘engineer of the year’ in the Production Solutions Awards at the International broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam.

The award recognised Sykes’ outstanding contribution to the development of digital broadcasting in Britain and around the world. Sykes, who is head of Transmission Systems Group, R&D, has been at the forefront of the development of digital television and radio since their beginnings in the 1980s, working with international bodies on standards for both analogue and digital technology.

In the early 1990s he negotiated a contract with GMCL to jointly develop and build the distribution and transmission equipment needed to launch the BBC’s new digital radio service, DAB.

Sykes led the BBC team which in the early-1990s built the first equipment compliant with the newly adopted international Digital Video Broadcasting specification. This equipment achieved a world’s first in April 1996 when signals were broadcast from Crystal Palace, and received by prototype receivers in White City. It created the foundation for the Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) transmitter and receiver industry of today. The same team was heavily involved in the introduction of DTT to Britain.

More recently Sykes has been working as part of the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium helping to develop a standard for broadcasting in the AM bands below 30MHz. When fully deployed, this will be of value to World Service and other international broadcasters. His Group at R&D is also engaged on projects such as the digital radio camera, navigation/home storage, and, on behalf of TV Licensing, an enhanced TV detection vehicle.

Sykes said: ‘The award reflects the tremendous creativity, imagination and energy of the many engineers and support staff in BBC R&D who have contributed to the continuing success of digital broadcasting in both Britain and around the world.’