CNN taps Pathfire

CNN Newsource will use Pathfire's Digital Media Gateway to deliver its content to affiliates beginning later this year, giving news executives what one network executive calls "classic browsability" as they sort through news feeds.

"Many of our approximately 680 affiliates already have seen it, touched it, worked on it," says Susan Grant, president, CNN Newsource. "We love it and we think it's the next right step."

In fact, approximately 250 of CNN Newsource's affiliates already have the system in place because ABC and NBC use the system, which includes an IBM video server, to reach their affiliates. That leaves about 430 stations still needing to be fitted; Grant hopes to have them up and running by year's end. There is no cost to the station for the system, and it will be installed at future affiliates as well.

"We're excited because it's a change in the news producers' workflow process where we don't have to create feeds," she said. "We can get the material out as soon as it comes, and it works great whether you're dumping it off to tape or you have a full digital newsroom."

Jack Womack, executive vice president, CNN News Group, wants the system to ease the nightmare of recording feeds and also allow producers to look at more material.

"It's the classic browsability to be able to look at all this stuff and insure a higher percentage of usage," he says. "If the content is right and it's geared at stations, then why not empower them to be able to look at it, see at it and make a judgment?" Womack expects the system will be the foundation for the totally digital newsroom.

"If you can eliminate three or four processes," he adds, "the ultimate will be going right from feed to the producer's desktop and then drag-and-drop to a show rundown."

CNN Newsource considered other options, including a proprietary system. Womack says that made no sense, especially because it would cause producers to jump through 10 more hoops to get feeds, adding, "This just makes it so much easier, especially for the ABC and NBC affiliates that are already used to the look, feel and touch."

CNN News Group contributed a piece of a $27 million round of financing for Pathfire, making them partners in their own creation. Exact figures were not available, but Richard Orrell Jones, Turner Broadcasting senior counsel says CNN was the lead lender, though it still maintains only a minority stake in the company.