One-person news production

Despite the sagging economy, two competing TV stations in Watertown, N.Y., the 175th market, have managed to improve and expand their news offerings, thanks to ParkerVision's automated news-production system.

The PVTV system allows one person to produce entire newscasts without the help of camera operators, assistant directors and audio engineers.

Executives at ABC affiliate WWTI-TV and CBS affiliate WWNY-TV say the system has streamlined operations, saved money, reduced human errors and improved the on-air look of their newscasts.

Both stations use similarly configured Windows NT-based systems, with three 3-CCD robotic pan/tilt cameras and one camera controller. Each system sells for $245,000 to $650,000, depending on the number of cameras and inputs and outputs.

The Ackerley Group, owner of the WWTI-TV parent, decided to install the ParkerVision system as part of its centralcasting initiative, through which it operates multiple stations from regional hubs. Ackerley purchased 15 ParkerVision systems in May 2000 for 12 stations located in upstate New York, California and Eugene, Ore. The deal was valued at $5.5 million.

WWTI-TV Technical Director Richard Crum is in accord with headquarters. Within months of implementing the system, he says, the station went from producing 10 half-hour shows a week to producing 39.

The system produces "cleaner" shows with more graphics, says Crum. "It's a learning experience, but, once you get comfortable with it, you have a tendency to add more and more elements and make minor changes to create a better program each time out. We're now able to do more things with the same number of people."

WWNY-TV Director of Operations Kimberly Randolph stresses the reduction in errors with the system. "The director is in complete control," she says, "and has the ability to review each show prior to airing."

The system has also led to improved relations between the news and production departments, Randolph adds. "We've formed a solid bond, as the anchors and directors work more closely with the PVTV system than we did previously."

WWNY-TV has also been sharing the system since April with its co-owned station in the market (and local Fox affiliate) WNYF-TV for its 10 p.m. half-hour newscast.

"These stations are faced with all of the challenges of transitioning to digital and purchasing a ParkerVision system represented an affordable way to move to a fully digital operation, as opposed to acquiring separate digital production components," says Richard Sisisky, president of ParkerVision. "It allows markets the size of Watertown efficiencies and ways to generate more news content and more revenue from additional advertising."