Looking To Streamline

Tribune plans a busy NAB shopping spree


Shopping List:

Tribune Broadcasting Co. is a station group in transition, having recently purchased WTTK-TV Indianapolis and satellite station WTTV-TV Kokomo, Ind., from Sinclair Broadcast Group and soon to close on KPLR-TV St. Louis and KWBP-TV Portland, Ore., from ACME Communications.

And, with 16 digital stations on the air and "a bunch" coming up, Vice President/Chief Technology Officer Ira Goldstone will have his hands full next month at NAB. "We have a lot of projects in progress, so we'll be taking final looks at nonlinear editing, graphics creation, monitoring, and HD video servers for store and forward."

Tribune's push is toward streamlining its operations. "We will be making improvements that will help us track our assets, optimize workflow, reduce operating costs and enhance the quality of our product," Goldstone says.

In line with a "linear approach to file transfer," he will investigate systems that manage and track files and metadata. And he will be seeking automation systems to help Tribune carry out its plan in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

He is especially interested to see what Masstech Group will be offering in automation software. Relatively new Masstech develops hardware- and software-based products for automation, near-line storage and digital-content management. Its IP-based MassControl automation system is designed as a low-cost alternative for multichannel facilities.

Goldstone also is interested in Sony optical-disk–based acquisition products using blue-laser technology. Blue laser allows up to 27 GB to be stored on each layer of the disk; throughput is up to 144 Mb/s, and MXF is used for file structure inside the disk.

Goldstone also plans to investigate advances in graphics creation and playback to integrate seamlessly into the Tribune operation and work in conjunction with its content-management systems. "It's not just about running a Paintbox anymore. It's about indexing and creating [graphics] that can be multipurposed."

He is also hoping to find production switchers that offer effects integration for branding and provide multichannel sound and embedded audio.

On the transmission side, Goldstone is interested in COFDM technology. "There are some new receivers out, and we're actually looking to see if any microwave vendors are offering MPEG-4 applications for COFDM rather than MPEG-2," he says. "We need to have more-efficient encoding."

And improving efficiencies in encoding is a priority for Tribune as it moves toward increased digital operations. "We're using MPEG-2 encoding, and, over time, [for] DENG and DSNG, we'll be looking at MPEG-4 and H264, a new compression standard that's twice as efficient as MPEG-2: For half the bits, you get equivalent quality. We're trying to improve efficiency of our bandwidth."