Local TV

Nexstar Expands Little Rock Hub

New HD master control will handle eight stations 5/16/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Nexstar Takes Springfield Hi-Def

As Nexstar Broadcasting Group worked to upgrade its Little Rock hub so KART could launch HD newscasts at the end of April, the company was also rebuilding its Springfield, Mo., operation, where it owns Fox affiliate KSFX and manages the CBS affiliate KOLR. As a result of that upgrade, KSFX on May 2 became Nexstar’s second owned-and-operated station to go high-definition.

Nexstar invested in a new set for KSFX about a year and a half ago, so the biggest change in the move to HD for viewers will be the addition of dramatically improved HD weather graphics from Weather Central, notes Blake Russell, senior VP of station operations for the station group.

Besides the newly upgraded facilities in Little Rock and Springfield, Nexstar also manages KEYE-TV in Austin, Tex., and KUTV in Salt Lake City, both of which have gone HD. The broadcast group has a pending acquisition for WFRV in Green Bay, which is scheduled to go HD this year, notes Russell.

Nextar is also prepping for a number of other projects, including some digital newsroom upgrades, and is investing heavily to launch newscasts later this year from its facility in Utica, N.Y., where Nexstar owns WFXV (Fox) and WPNY (MyNetworkTV) and manages WUTR (ABC).

Nexstar has no plans to launch any other HD newscasts in 2011. “We will ramp up again next year” for HD upgrades, Russell says, but will continue to be careful in its capital spending. “We’re not afraid to change vendors if the opportunity is there and we can get a more robust product at possibly a lesser cost,” Russell adds, something the company did by switching to JVC cameras at several stations. —GW

In a notable example of how station groups
are using high-definition upgrades to both
streamline operations and improve the quality
of news they deliver to regional audiences, Nexstar
Broadcasting Group is finishing up work on the expansion
of its Little Rock, Ark. hub.

On April 20, the upgrade allowed KARK, Nexstar’s
NBC Little Rock affiliate, to launch HD newscasts,
making it the first of Nexstar’s owned-and-operated
stations to make the switch.

But completion of work in mid-June on the facility
will have a much bigger impact on Nexstar’s operations
by increasing the number of stations operated from
the Little Rock hub from five to eight, and boosting
the amount of HD content all of them can handle. After
the upgrade, which was designed and carried out
by Nexstar’s in-house engineering and tech staff, all
eight stations that are run through the new HD master
control will be able to handle syndicated content and
local ads in HD.

Major vendors for the upgrade include a Miranda
master control, Ross Video switcher, JVC studio cameras,
Omneon servers, DNF control systems, Avid automation
and computer graphics products, Yamaha
audio board and the latest weather system from WSI.

The three new stations that will be added to the
Little Rock hub are NBC affiliate KTVE and Fox affiliate KARD in Monroe, La., and KTAL (NBC) from
Shreveport, La. They join KARK (NBC) and KARZ
(MyNetworkTV) from Little Rock, KBTV (Fox) from
Beaumont, Tex. and KNWA (NBC) and KFTA (Fox)
covering the northwest part of Arkansas.

“We are a firm believer in the hub-spoke model from
a master control, business and trafficking perspective,”
explains Blake Russell, senior vice president of station
operations at Nexstar.

Russell stresses that the decision to expand the Little
Rock hub as part of an HD upgrade had a number of
advantages. With the new Little Rock facility capable
of handling 12 stations, “we will have headroom for
adding four others at some point,” potentially reducing
additional operating costs in the future, Russell notes.

The new HD newscasts at KART will also strengthen
Nexstar’s competitive position in Little Rock, a market
where two competing stations had launched hidef
newscasts in recent months. To make sure viewers
would see a noticeable improvement in the quality of
the HD newscasts, Russell notes that the station added
a new weather system and a new set.

The new set provides KART with added flexibility
in the way they present the news, and it includes a number
of different anchor desks to vary the look and feel of
the programs in a way that really “sets us apart in Little
Rock,” Russell explains. “In this day and age, you have to
give someone a different piece of eye candy all the time.
You can’t show them the same thing over and over again.”

The upgrades also lay the basis for eventually taking
the news operations at the other Nexstar stations to
HD. “It makes much more sense to invest in a hub architecture
when you are building up an HD platform,
rather than having to do those upgrades in each of
the stations,” Russell notes. “It is a much more costeffective
transition path.”

In the meantime, the upgrades will improve the Nexstar
stations by making it much easier to share footage,
stories and correspondents. “By having connectivity
between all of these stations, someone at Beaumont
can immediately tap into talent in other areas if they
need to get something on the air,” Russell says.

In fact, the upgrades are part of a bigger effort to
transform the way Nexstar operates its businesses and
work flow. “It’s not just about HD,” Russell argues. “It
goes much deeper than that. It is really about challenging
our people to think differently and practice
new work flows” so they can outperform “the serious
competition” they face.

E-mail comments to
gpwin@oregoncoast.com

Nexstar Takes Springfield Hi-Def

As Nexstar Broadcasting Group worked to upgrade its Little Rock hub so KART could launch HD newscasts at the end of April, the company was also rebuilding its Springfield, Mo., operation, where it owns Fox affiliate KSFX and manages the CBS affiliate KOLR. As a result of that upgrade, KSFX on May 2 became Nexstar’s second owned-and-operated station to go high-definition.

Nexstar invested in a new set for KSFX about a year and a half ago, so the biggest change in the move to HD for viewers will be the addition of dramatically improved HD weather graphics from Weather Central, notes Blake Russell, senior VP of station operations for the station group.

Besides the newly upgraded facilities in Little Rock and Springfield, Nexstar also manages KEYE-TV in Austin, Tex., and KUTV in Salt Lake City, both of which have gone HD. The broadcast group has a pending acquisition for WFRV in Green Bay, which is scheduled to go HD this year, notes Russell.

Nextar is also prepping for a number of other projects, including some digital newsroom upgrades, and is investing heavily to launch newscasts later this year from its facility in Utica, N.Y., where Nexstar owns WFXV (Fox) and WPNY (MyNetworkTV) and manages WUTR (ABC).

Nexstar has no plans to launch any other HD newscasts in 2011. “We will ramp up again next year” for HD upgrades, Russell says, but will continue to be careful in its capital spending. “We’re not afraid to change vendors if the opportunity is there and we can get a more robust product at possibly a lesser cost,” Russell adds, something the company did by switching to JVC cameras at several stations. —GW

 

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