Stations Look for Help to Do More With Less

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The economy may be stronger, but systems for streamlining workflows and automating broadcast operations will once again be in big demand at this year’s National Association of Broadcasting show in Las Vegas, as stations and networks continue to look for ways to do more with less by reducing staff or producing more content with existing personnel.

In pre-NAB interviews, top engineers at Fox Networks, Discovery and Scripps all noted that they will be heading to the show with plans to explore both channel-in-a-box solutions and software to manage and streamline newsroom workflows.

“Miranda, Snell, Grass Valley and a number of other vendors all have [channel-in-a-box or integrated playout] products,” said John Ajamie, senior VP of broadcast operations and engineering at Scripps Networks, which is working on a major upgrade to its broadcast infrastructure over the next few years. “It is getting so they are not supporting a conventional solution.”

Station groups are also taking a closer look at channel- in-a-box solutions. Shortly before NAB, Miranda announced that its iTX integrated playout platform was installed at WTLW TV44 and its second channel, the West Ohio Sports Net, TV 44.2, a full-power, locally owned television station in Lima, Ohio.

In addition to channel-in-a-box solutions provided by Miranda and other manufacturers, some vendors are also coming out with hybrid offerings that mix technologies from several different vendors into a tightly integrated solution.

The hybrid solutions address some of the concerns broadcasters have had with channel-in-a-box solutions, which make it difficult to use their existing automation or other equipment.

To address that, NVerzion will be demonstrating its Component Level Automation System Solutions (CLASS) that uses software systems and controls to integrate a broadcaster’s legacy hardware and software systems into a unified platform.

During NAB, NVerzion will be showing a number of examples of these systems integrating with products from Ross, 360 Systems, Utah Scientific and others.

One configuration combines NVerzion’s CLASS with 360 Systems’ MAXX-500 digital video server, Ross Video’s MC1 master control and XPression graphics systems; another puts together CLASS with 360 Systems’ MAXX-500 digital video server and Utah Scientific’s MC-40 master control and GS-4000 graphics systems.

Looking for Ease of Use

Software for streamlining, managing or automating various production or broadcast tasks will also be on display, as a number of vendors, including Associated Press’ ENPS, Avid, Bitcentral, Dalet, Grass Valley and Sony will either roll out or show new or upgraded versions of their products.

Sony will be showing its Media Backbone Enterprise and Management solution and its Media Backbone Production system, notes Alec Shapiro, president of Sony Electronics’ Professional Solutions of America division.

“All of our customers, but especially the broadcast stations, are looking to automate processes,” said Shapiro, who added that systems for better managing workflows have become increasingly important as stations look to distribute more content to more platforms.

To help with that, the Associated Press will be showing its new ENPS Version 7, which has a simplified user interface and is designed to make it much easier to create content for multiple platforms.

In another important launch at NAB, Bitcentral will be showing Core:news, a new news production, media management, sharing and archiving solution. It has a number of tools for streamlining field-based workflows to speed content back to the station, automated multiplatform delivery, faster access to stored content and improved sharing of content.

Core:news also offers complete integration with popular newsroom systems such as ENPS and Avid’s iNews and is designed to help stations rethink their workflows, many of which date from the days of tape, noted Fred Fourcher, CEO of Bitcentral.

“It offers them a fresh start on their workflows and a way to challenge the old assumptions that the workflows of the past are the best way to do things,” he said.