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Technologies for centralizing TV station operations are once again on the shopping lists of many broadcasters, both among station groups that have been acquiring new properties and for companies that are currently upgrading hubs they set up five to 10 years ago.
Why This Matters
One such group is Quincy Broadcast, Print and Interactive, which has embarked on major upgrades to its three hubs—in Rochester, Minn.; WGEM-TV in Quincy, Ill.; and WXOW-TV in LaCrosse, Wis.—that have served 10 of the group’s 14 stations for many years. When the work is finished in mid-2014, the project will make Quincy’s master controls totally HD; more fully automate its playout systems; improve its multiplatform distribution; enhance centralized monitoring capabilities; and create a number of efficiencies that will reduce operational costs, reports Brady Dreasler, the company’s director of engineering and operations.
As part of the upgrades, Quincy has selected Harris Broadcast as its main supplier of technological infrastructure. When completed, the hubs will be using the vendor’s ADC automated content management and distribution platform; the HView SX Pro multiviewers to monitor 30 live channels at the three hubs; NEXIO AMP servers for media ingest and playout; NEXIO Farad online storage systems; and Platinum routers for in-plant signal distribution.
From Traffic to Transmitter
Previously, Quincy had deployed several other Harris Broadcast products, including its Power CD DTV transmitters, OSi-Traffic media software and Selenio media convergence platforms for sharing content between stations. “The upgrades take us end-to-end with Harris Broadcast from traffic to transmitter,” says Dreasler.
Going with a sole vendor should greatly simplify Quincy’s operations, Dreasler adds. “Like most broadcasters, we’ve suffered from having to deal with multiple vendors and the problems of getting their equipment to talk to each other,” he says. “We’ve been through those battles, and we’re tired of it. We just wanted a unified solution.”
Dreasler also expects “significant savings” in a number of other areas, including “fewer satellite dishes and fewer satellite receivers” and streamlined processes for ingesting onair content and delivering it to other stations. “We will be able to pull down a show once and then just push it out to the servers at the stations,” he notes.
In addition, tighter integration between their OSi-Traffic system and their automation system will “get us much faster to a live log,” Dreasler says. That would allow Quincy to sell inventory closer to airtime and be more flexible in the way they place spots.
The station group’s production control rooms have been fully HD at all of the stations for at least a year, but the upgrades at the hubs will also make those master controls fully HD so they can handle hi-def syndicated programming and advertisements.
Quincy was an early adopter of the Harris Broadcast Selenio platforms, which have made it possible to share more content between stations. “We worked with Harris as they developed the product and finished deploying it about nine months ago,” Dreasler says. “It lets us send on-demand video from one of our stations to others. So if there is a news feed we want to send from our station in Madison, Wis., we can feed a live shot with a reporter to the other stations.”