Clear Channel Seeks a Dialogue

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The dust has barely settled on the new TV-operations center in Tulsa, Okla., that feeds multiple stations from a central location. But already Clear Channel Television Senior VP/Director of Engineering Mike DeClue is looking at the next leap forward in digital-era broadcasting.

It has little to do with traditional ways of distributing pictures and sound. Instead, DeClue is convinced viewer interactivity will be important. So, at NAB, he’ll be looking for creative ideas to support a “back-channel” ecosystem that gives viewers fresh ways to fetch content and interact with stations. Likely applications include Web-based streaming video and ways to integrate content into emerging mobile and portable video platforms.

“Our content must be used in multiple venues,” he says. “We have to look beyond our main broadcast signal as the be-all and the end-all of our existence, because it is not.”

LESSONS FROM RADIO

DeClue’s inspiration comes partially from the radio side, where numerous stations have rigged Web sites with interactive features, including on- demand music videos, in-studio performances and interactive polls. “This is a traditional radio company that’s reaching out to its listeners,” he says, “and it’s building a conduit for a two-way conversation. Television broadcasters must do the same thing.”

For station operations, he and his engineering team will note price points for HDV cameras from such companies as JVC, Canon and Sony, plus field- acquisition and editing systems that take advantage of new possibilities in digital production.

“We’ll be looking at the same things that are catching everybody else’s eye: solid-state [storage technology], fewer moving parts, getting off tape, moving to firewire or some means of getting things into a field-based, non-linear edit system,” DeClue says.

He’s also interested in the movement toward HD editing and file-management systems that use Windows Media-based tools versus more-common MPEG-based encoding. DeClue sees the convention as a turning point on the path toward convergence of TV broadcasting and information technology.

“Convergence is finally here,” he says. “It’s now just as important to have a Windows-based machine and be able to manipulate things in the Windows Media world as it is to be able to pick your transmitter.”

WE ARE HERE!!!Wish List• HDV cameras
• Nonlinear editing systems
• Web-based content delivery

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