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Time Warner Links Candidates

Time Warner Cable customers in New York have a clearer picture of who's running for office, thanks to a fiber-optic network across the state. The cable operator has organized a series of debates and town-hall meetings for governor, senator and attorney general elections that it is televising live on NY1 News and NY1 Noticias in New York City, News 10 Now in Syracuse, Capital News 9 in Albany and RNews in Rochester.

The feeds, which began with the debate by Democratic gubernatorial candidates late last month, are simulcast via Time Warner's Multiple Services Access Network (MSAN), which connects the cable operator's regional hubs.

The debates are also being shown on local channels in the operator's newly acquired cable systems in Buffalo (formerly owned by Adelphia) and simulcast by Cablevision's News 12 Long Island and News 12 Westchester channels.

It represents the first time that Time Warner Cable has used the fiber network to simulcast programming across New York state.

“Tailor-made” for the network

“We're really lucky,” says Steve Paulus, senior VP of Time Warner's New York news division and general manager of NY1. “The statewide races are tailor-made for the network we've built.”

Starting this week, Time Warner will televise three town-hall meetings that will be live in front of a studio audience at four locations across the state.

Using the fiber connectivity of the MSAN along with MPEG-2 compression gear from Tandberg, the meetings will allow candidates to take questions from the audience at the other three sites through a live video hook-up.

The first meeting, for attorney general candidates, airs on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. Democratic candidates Charlie King and Sean Patrick Maloney will be located at Pace University in New York City; Democrat Mark Green and Republican Jeanine Pirro, at Time Warner's studio in Syracuse; Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the Albany studio; and an audience of the general public will be at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester.

“We'll set up a location on the floor where the politician will sit,” says Joe Truncale, VP of engineering and operations for NY1 News, “and we'll have a microphone floating through the audience at all of the venues, so they can ask questions of candidates at any other location.”

Interaction between venues

NY1's studio in New York City will serve as the production hub for the meetings, which will be simulcast on Time Warner's news channels and branded with each local channel's bug. The director in the studio will switch to different camera feeds depending on the questions being asked at each venue.

Interaction between the audience and candidates at different locations will be shown onscreen with a double-box, triple-box or quadruple-box graphic effect, depending on the number of candidates and venues involved in the exchange. At each venue, a large plasma screen will display the live program feed to the audience.

“The director will cut to the appropriate person, and it will be shown in a double box,” says Truncale, “so it will be very easy for the person in the venue asking the question [to see the response].”