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News orgs shopping for faster, less-expensive newsgathering options at NAB
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Complete NAB 2011 Coverage

Anyone who still needed a reminder of how much news cycles have sped up got it in recent months, with waves of protests washing over the Middle East and the tragic Japanese earthquake and Tsunami unfolding at breathtaking speeds.

With news organizations struggling to provide almost instantaneous coverage of these events, technologies to help newsrooms cope with the immediacy of breaking events and the need to get that news out on multiple platforms will be top-of-mind at this year’s NAB.

Newcomer news technologies include smaller, lighter HD cameras; less expensive editing systems; systems to transport video back to stations over 3G and 4G networks; products that streamline or automate file-based workflows; and cloud-based solutions, according to executives at a number of major station groups, broadcast networks and cable channels interviewed by B&C in recent weeks.

Much of this interest is being driven by the twin imperatives of reducing costs while trying to cover more news for more newscasts and for additional platforms. “Many news organizations have been tightening the belt and at the same time trying to adapt to distributing more news content over various platforms,” says Mark Kraham, news director at WHAG-TV and chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association, which will be hosting several sessions at NAB on cross-platform newsgathering efforts.

Amid the effort to produce more news for less, demand has gone up for Chyron’s cloud-based graphics solutions, which have been deployed at Gannett, Sinclair, Fox, Scripps and other stations, says Todd Martin, VP of strategic partnerships and professional services at Chyron.

Working in the cloud, Martin says, not only cuts capital expenses and operating costs; it also makes it easier for station groups to improve the quality of their graphics and deploy those graphics on more platforms.

File management and news productions systems that allow news operations to move files faster from cameras in the field to the newsroom are also in greater demand, reports Fred Fourcher, president and CEO of Bitcentral.

“Some are looking to cut costs, but others are thinking about how they can leverage technology to streamline operations and reallocate resources so they can put more people in the ! eld and deliver more content to more platforms,” he tells B&C.

As stations move people out of newsrooms into the field, they are also looking for ways at NAB to equip them with less expensive editing systems and cameras. “The days of the $30,000 to $40,000 HD camera are gone,” says Larry Librach, VP of broadcast and public sector at JVC Professional Products.

To make it easier for JVC users to bring more video back from the field, the company will be demonstrating at this year’s NAB a prototype of a camera that can transmit video directly to the newsroom over wireless networks. The vendor will also be launching a module that can send a live signal from the camera directly to a microwave or satellite truck.

A number of other companies, including LiveU, Streambox and Nomad Innovations have also developed systems that attach to cameras to bring content back from the field over 3G and 4G cellular networks, providing a less costly alternative to microwave or satellite trucks.

Harvey Levin, founder and managing editor, of TMZ, says the show uses several units from LiveU to bring back video from the field to its website via cellular networks. “It’s a game changer,” he says. “It is just not economical for us to do things the way they were done 30 years ago.”

The LiveU units were also widely used in the Middle East and Japan recently and have been adopted by a number of station groups, including CBS.

CBS has also tested Nomad Innovations’ LiveEdge, which uses Verizon’s 4G. Nomad CEO Bob Klingle says the solution is about one quarter the cost of a satellite truck. “They can either save money or quadruple the live coverage they have” so they can produce more content for more platforms, he explains.

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