Local News: First, Live And More Automated Than Ever

Related: At Stations, ENG Takes on Starring Role

As broadcasters head to the annual Broadcasting & Cable/TV Technology News Technology Summit—coming to Baltimore Oct. 8-9 —much of the focus will once again be on newer systems for streamlining workflows.

One notable development is the ongoing reduction of costs for automation systems, making them more attractive for smaller stations. In September, Ross Video announced that its popular OverDrive automation system would work with its less expensive midsize production Carbonite switcher. “It means that the cost for getting into automation has dropped quite substantially,” says Jeff Moore, executive VP and CMO at Ross Video.

Meanwhile, the growing importance of software is helping broadcasters create more flexible workflows. Imagine Communications’ CTO Steve Reynolds notes that they have been developing “software defined workflow platforms” that offer modular, easily customizable workflows. “Rather than users having to adapt to the tool, you can tailor it to work within their existing workflows, without having to write new codes,” he says.

These broader software systems are designed not only to control more station operations, they are also being architected to integrate with a wide variety of systems from outside vendors.

As part of its Avid Everywhere strategy of helping broadcasters and content creators handle all aspects of the process of content creation, distribution and monetization, Ray Gilmartin, senior director, broadcast and media segment and product marketing at Avid explains that they’ve designed their software platforms to closely integrate with outside vendors—including direct competitors—that can write applications for interfaces and products. “The complexity of dealing with disparate products from different vendors was one of the key things we are addressing,” Gilmartin says.

Tighter integration with other vendors, particularly newsroom systems, and capabilities for natively handling new formats is also a priority for BroadStream, which rolled out a number of new workflow management tools at IBC, explains Ben Wolk, president, sales and marketing at BroadStream. These include Current, which is designed to manage and streamline workflows.

Rapid Response Systems

Software systems are providing stations flexibility in addressing rapid technological changes that require them to deal with new formats and devices. “When we architected [Grass Valley’s media workflow application framework] Stratus, we didn’t know all the changes that were coming, but we knew clients would need solutions to rapidly respond,” says Ed Casaccia, senior segment manager, news at Grass Valley.

The complexity of handling massive amounts of content being created by both journalists and users of social media and then distributing this content to many different devices requires increasingly sophisticated systems for handling metadata and media. “The key to rapid turnarounds of news content is to automate a lot of the processes for handling user generated content and have the proper methods of handling metadata,” says Luc Comeau, senior business development manager at Dalet Digital Systems.

While much of the technology remains focused on automating processes, Fred Fourcher, president, CEO and founder of Bitcentral, stresses that systems’ ability to better share content and access content from archives can boost ratings. “The No. 1 complaint about local news is repetition,” he says. “If you can share content and get unique content on the air, you have a real competitive advantage.”

Cloud-based systems for storing and accessing content can radically reduce costs, and, “If I have content stored in a dozen local facilities, it might cost 10 or 12 times as much as the cost of putting it in the cloud,” where systems are actually more reliable than local storage, says Alex Grossman, Quantum VP of media and entertainment.

These cloud-based services also lay the groundwork for distributed production systems offered by Adobe, Avid, Aframe, LiveU, Panasonic, Sony and others. “They allow journalists to work anywhere they have a connection,” says Andy Warman, director of product management, production and play-out at Harmonic. Harmonic supplied a Media Grid product to CNN as part of its deployment of the Adobe Anywhere distributed production system.