Lean and Mean: NY1 Noticias

On June 30, NY1 News in Manhattan hit the air with a new service: NY1 Noticias, a 24-hour newschannel that serves Spanish-speaking subscribers of Time Warner's DTV in Español digital cable service. The launch was the culmination of an effort that began in earnest last September, requiring nine new employees, about $900,000 in new gear, and help from vendors like Omnibus, AP and Pinnacle to ensure that Noticias would be able to tap into NY1's audio and video content.

The move toward the new service began last fall when Time Warner began larger efforts to attract Spanish-speaking subscribers to its digital services. It's estimated that about 100,000 TWC digital subs in the NYC area are primarily Spanish-speaking.

"It seemed like a logical progression," Steve Paulus, NY1 senior vice president and general manager.

The channel's studio in the NY1 newsroom has a green screen and was formerly used for things like movie reviews. To accommodate the master control, says NY1 News Director of Operations and Engineering Joe Truncale, two closets were replaced with a glass door, an Oxtel EZT master-control switcher, a 50-inch flat-panel monitor and a Miranda K2 multiviewer.

The rollout required rewriting the Omnibus automation software so that the Noticias staff could access content on NY1's Pinnacle servers without causing delays or congestion. The AP ENPS newsroom system also needed to be tied in.

"A new RAID array was added to be shared between the two stations," says Truncale. "So we had to make sure the AP MOS gateway protects the integrity of NY1 and keeps the other parts of the facilities independent of each other."

The Noticias challenge also provided an opportunity. NY1 currently uses the Pinnacle Targa 2000 boards, which handle video in the Motion JPEG format. But Noticias will use the Targa 3000, which supports DV. The result is that Noticias staff will be able to complete stories and even packages directly on their desktop with Pinnacle's Vortex 200 editors. And the Noticias master-control room has both Targa 2000 and 3000 boards, allowing playback of video in MJPEG via the 2000 and audio via the 3000.

Plans call for NY1 News to make the transition to Targa 3000.

Because Noticias doesn't have the budget for a dedicated weather person, weather-service provider WSI has installed a server at NY1 Noticias that receives Spanish-language weather reports every 10 minutes from WSI's Boston headquarters. The Omnibus system pings the WSI server and readies the content for air.

Right now, the channel provides news, weather and local-sports highlights. But Paulus envisions a ramp-up in stories designed specifically for NY1 Noticias once the advertising covers expenses. A political talk show, call-in program and other ideas are also on tap.

"Advertiser reaction has been pretty good," he says. "We're already half way to our annual sales budget with advertisers like Verizon and Sleepy's, who advertise on NY1 as well. But we also have an ad buy from Fanta, and, as far as I know, they've never advertised on NY1."