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IBC NEWS : OmniBus iTX on the Move

iTX, the “station-in-a-box” solution that automation vendor OmniBus introduced at NAB, has completed beta testing and is now shipping. Early customers include Red Bee Media in the U.K., NRK in Norway and AOL in the U.S., which is using it in conjunction with its AOL Video service.

OmniBus is mainly pitching iTX as a cost-effective way for broadcasters and cable networks to launch new channels without investing in multiple pieces of broadcast hardware. The system uses a combination of standard IT-based storage and OmniBus software to replicate the functions of various broadcast equipment, including master control, graphics, SD-to-HD upconversion and content-management functionality.

“You can launch a TV channel in day,” said OmniBus Chief Technology Officer Ian Fletcher, speaking at an IBC press event. Fletcher added that one U.S. network that asked to test the system was able to get it fully operational in one hour.

At IBC, OmniBus was demonstrating a refrigerator-sized iTX system that featured 10 channels, eight HD and two SD. Each channel had the functionality of a video server, master-control switcher, 2-channel DVE (digital video effects), logo inserter, character generator, aspect ratio converter, still store, audio server, subtitle inserter, live input, automation engine and media cache, with a database server providing content storage, ingest, logging, content management and scheduling and traffic management.

During the demo, OmniBus showed a single operator assembling a short news package, in about 30 seconds, and playing it out. The package included graphics, a character generator insert, a DVE move and voice-over, all generated by the OmniBus software.

OmniBus CEO Mike Oldham says that iTX has drawn interest from major U.S. broadcasters, including CBS. At NAB, PBS had expressed interest in using iTX as part of its Next Generation Interconnection System, which aims to distribute programming to stations using file-based delivery. But that deal has not been finalized due to issues with PBS’ federal funding.