Systems integrator Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) recently completed an extensive project for Cowles California Media Group to centralize master control for six stations at a single facility, implement a file-based workflow, and maximize automation for greater cost efficiency. ABS designed and built the new centralized master control infrastructure around the existing operations, and seamlessly switched […]
Systems integrator Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) recently completed an extensive project for Cowles California Media Group to centralize master control for six stations at a single facility, implement a file-based workflow, and maximize automation for greater cost efficiency.
ABS designed and built the new centralized master control infrastructure around the existing operations, and seamlessly switched the stations over to it without jeopardizing their on-air signals. The project was completed in 15 weeks, from mid-October 2008 through January 2009.
“Based upon a feasibility study by ABS, we determined that the cost of building and staffing standalone master control rooms at each station would not be possible,” said Paul Dughi, president of Cowles California Media Group. “However, by centralizing and automating control of all six stations in Salinas, we greatly reduced our capital and operating costs, advanced our on-air look with widescreen SDTV and HDTV, and eliminated the inefficiencies and technical errors that hurt the bottom line.”
Since the six Cowles stations are split between Salinas and Santa Maria, Calif., which are separated by hundreds of miles, ABS built the centralized master control infrastructure on a bi-directional, 45-Megabit DS3 circuit with an Omneon ProCast server that enables the Salinas “hub” to send programming, commercials and other content to another ProCast server at the “satellite” facility in Santa Maria. Designed for disaster recovery, the Santa Maria facility can assume control of the Salinas master control room should a disaster or power failure ever shut down the Salinas facility.
Traffic and master control have been centralized at the Salinas facility for four Cowles operated channels serving the Salinas/Monterey market: KION-DT (CBS on ch. 46 and CW on ch. 46.2), KCBA-DT (Fox), and KMUV-LP (Telemundo). Salinas also handles traffic and master control for Santa Maria-based KCOY-DT (CBS) and KKFX (Fox), which is carried on KCOY’s dot two channel.
After acquiring these stations from Clear Channel Communications in mid-2008, Cowles turned to ABS to find an innovative solution to eliminate time-consuming, inefficient processes and reduce operating costs.
“We conducted a feasibility study that projected significant cost savings by consolidating master control for all six stations at Salinas; replacing their banks of videotape machines with a file-based, server-based workflow; and automating the entire broadcast chain from ad order processing and traffic through master control and playout,” said Mark Siegel, president of ABS.
Syndicated programming is received via satellite onto a Pathfire server in Salinas, then flipped to the ProCast server, which in turn distributes the appropriate shows to Santa Maria’s ProCast server. The traffic department uses VCI software to generate a daily operations log that interfaces with Avid Sundance Titan automation, resulting in fully automated master control and playout to air.
Also, the news operations in both markets are now based on Bitcentral’s Precis file-based news production system, with acquisition on Panasonic P2 HD cameras and editing on Grass Valley Edius NLE systems.
“This overhaul offers us the operational efficiencies we have been seeking,” said Adam Perez, chief engineer for Cowles’ Salinas stations. “Considering the economy’s adverse impact on this business, if we can find workflow efficiencies and execute our broadcast duties more accurately, then that’s the model we need to pursue to meet our financial goals.”