Top Engineers' Hope: If We Build It, They Will ComeO&O execs outline plans for better station infrastructures 8/12/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
The top technology and engineering executives at the four Englishlanguage
network owned-and-operated TV station groups recently
sat down with B&C contributing editor George Winslow to discuss
their technology priorities. Here are some of the highlights.
ABC: Engineering for Efficiency
Repurposing content for multiple
platforms and finding
ways to make their operations
more efficient remains top of
mind with ABC’s engineers,
says Dave Converse, VP of engineering at
the ABC Owned Television Stations.
As part of those efforts, ABC has centralized
its ingest operations, expanded its
file-based workflows and deployed tools to
streamline the delivery of video back from
the field. Much of the group’s capital budget,
however, is devoted to replacing and upgrading
existing equipment, Converse says.
“We are really paying attention to the
changing, disruptive environment that we
are confronted with and trying to be agile
enough to respond in a way so that we will
be the first ones on the scene to tell the story
and serve our constituents,” Converse says.
CBS: Eye on Newsgathering
As part of its focus on news technologies, Jeff
Birch, VP of Engineering, CBS Television Stations,
says they are examining a number of
areas, including tools that allow journalists
to be more efficient; new non-linear editing
systems; multiplatform delivery technologies;
and cellular bonding technologies.
Beyond that, the group is also eyeing technologies
for centralizing the ingest of content
and solutions that can help them more easily
integrate different products together.
Much of their technical focus is on products
and services that will have a direct impact
on their competitive position and ratings,
Birch says. “You can have a neat little
device in the back room that does great stuff.
But if it is not going to bring a viewer to me,
what does it do for me?” he asks. “The goal
for technology is really things that will set
me apart so the viewers will come.”
Fox: Learning From IT
After centralizing master control operations
using an IT infrastructure, setting up a graphics
hub and implementing automation production
control rooms in recent years, the Fox
stations have been focusing on how they can
improve those efforts and on bringing in new
tools to help the stations be more efficient and
improve the quality of their content.
As part of the effort, they have experimented
with mobile technologies. “You can outfit
an iPad with a Padcaster that lets you attach
a lens and a shotgun mic and the journalist is
able to shoot, edit and transmit right from the
iPad,” says Tim Redmond, VP of engineering
and operations for Fox Television Stations.
Redmond adds the group is also exploring
technologies to create more unified workflows;
systems to streamline user-generated
content; and developments that continue to
expand the use of IT and IP equipment.
NBC: Smarter Infrastructure
Besides a number of initiatives
to improve their newsgathering
operations, the NBC stations
have focused on deploying
better monitoring tools for
their infrastructures, reports Jeff Morris, senior
VP of operations and technology at the
NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations.
“We’ve been investing in some markets
quite a bit of resources to create smarter
technology infrastructures to help us work
smarter,” Morris says. Initially these smarter,
more automated monitoring tools are being
installed at stations; ultimately, NBCU hopes
to expand them to multichannel providers.
In addition, the group has also been examining
news archive systems, particularly
as they build new facilities in Dallas and
L.A. and add better tools for journalists in
the field and TV Everywhere solutions.