Going With the FlowStations look for tighter integration between automation systems and their trafficking software 7/25/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
It has become one of the great challenges in
TV industry tech—how best to streamline work flows and handle more channels and content with
shrinking staffs. That challenge is providing strong impetus
to shift to a variety of technologies designed to
make automation systems more widely interoperable
with other aspects of the broadcast infrastructure, such
as traffic and billing.
One example of the trend: some
recent deployments using the BXF
(broadcast exchange format) standard
for integrating various automation, trafficking, production and other systems
so that content can flow more easily
through the TV station with less manual
The BXF standard, first adopted in
2009, has been talked about for some
time. But only a few commercial stations
have widely used it to integrate
products from different vendors, in
part because BXF implementations can
require labor-intensive customization.
The advantages of using a standard
to integrate systems are, however, beginning
to outweigh some of the drawbacks,
and more stations are embracing
Last year, Cox began using BXF to integrate
traffic and automation systems
from Harris in some of its stations.
More recently, WideOrbit reported that it is using
BXF for the installation and integration of its new WO
Master Control automation system at several other stations
at an unnamed broadcast group that is adopting
“We are heavily into the total integration with BXF
and PMCP [programming metadata communication
protocol],” with the aim of dramatically simplifying
the movement of content throughout the broadcast infrastructure,
says Steve Smith, director of WideOrbit
Automation for Television.
Pebble Beach Systems, a U.K. automation provider,
also sees growing stateside demand for BXF integrations.
“We are currently in the process of taking to air
one of our systems for MHz Networks in Virginia,”
which involves a BXF integration with the ProTrack
TV scheduling and business management system
from Myers Information Systems, says Simon Foskett,
project manager at Pebble Beach.
Crist Myers, president and CEO at Myers, which was
one of the first vendors to embrace BXF integration,
adds that in addition to the MHz project, “we are doing
a lot more with BXF,” as stations increasingly look
to streamline work ! ows by more closely integrating
automation, trafficking and other systems.
“BXF gives us a common language to pull off more
robust integration capability to streamline work flow
and make stations more efficient,” Myers says.
Over time, Myers also believes that tighter integration
between trafficking, broadcast management and
automation systems will shift the focus from traditional
automation systems to newer software systems that can
manage more of a station’s operations.
“We see [software] systems like our ProTrack acting
like the brain that is increasingly telling other systems,
like the automation system, what to do,” Myers says.
“It is a massive shift in the way the industry” tries to
streamline and automate operations, he adds.
The wider imperative of " nding new ways to streamline
work flows with better software that can automate
more tasks has also been important in some recent
upgrades of systems that did not involve
ABC affiliate KTVX in Salt Lake
City, for example, recently upgraded
its NVerzion automation systems
with the addition of NCompass,
creating a package of tools that has
significantly streamlined the station’s
broadcast operation, reports Scott
Murphy, president of NVerzion.
Many of these upgrades continue
to be driven by the need to reduce
staff or redeploy resources for other
operations, Murphy adds.
For example, KBTC, a public
broadcaster in Tacoma, Wash., deployed
Snell’s automation products
in 2006 as part of a complete revamping
of the station’s infrastructure,
in the hopes of moving towards
“unattended operation” of its master
control facilities, says Steve Newsom,
chief engineer and operations
manager at the station.
This April, KBTC made further upgrades to the system,
and its master control is now manned only two
hours per night, a task that is handled by the engineering
department, adds Darin Gerchak, director of
engineering at KBTC. “Over time, we have eliminated five master control positions,” he explains.
While those staff cuts were painful, the automation
system has helped the station better serve its audience
by ramping up local productions, which have won several
Emmy awards in recent years.
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