Quincy Broadcasting is upgrading its seven-year-old centralcasting setup with an infusion of new technology from Harris Broadcast that’s expected to improve the group’s workflow and cut down costs. Hub stations can now distribute syndiacted programming, and the group has plans to use the technology for new tasks in the coming year.
This summer, IPBS’s eight TV stations and nine NPR stations will connect over a single IP-based network to share, collaborate and distribute content. Once fully rolled out, Roger Rhodes, the group’s executive director, says the next step could be implementing a centralcasting model, similar to what PBS stations in New York and Florida are using.
As LIN Media’s chief tech, Brett Jenkins has numerous balls in the air. First there’s continuing the HD transition at the group’s growing portfolio of stations. Next, there’s his work on ATSC that is planning TV’s next-generation standards. And then there’s also automation, mobile DTV, streaming and keeping an eye on the emerging 4K technology.
Noncommercial stations in Florida and New York state are combining their master control operations in ventures designed to cut expenses. In New York, the joint master control project out of WCNY Syracuse (pictured) that will eventually run nine stations will go on line on Dec. 7. A similar master control facility in Jacksonville, Fla. — the Digital Convergence Alliance — will launch next summer with 10 partner stations and 38 program streams.
The noncommercial Boston station is developing a new business as a centralcasting hub. Today, it’s announcing it will provide master control operations for New Hampshire Public Television. WGBH CTO Joe Igoe says his new facility has the capacity to handle 40 or more stations anywhere in the country that would like to save money by outsourcing.
The pull of economic strains and push of technical advancements continue to spark collaborations among public TV stations. The CPB Board on March 27 unanimously approved a $7 million grant for a centralcasting facility in Jacksonville, Fla., that will serve six stations in Florida and one in Georgia.
The CPB Board on Tuesday (March 27) unanimously approved spending up to $7 million for a joint master-control project linking six stations in Florida and one in Georgia. The Jacksonville Digital Convergence Alliance will run one master control for WJCT Jacksonville; WFSU Tallahassee; WPBT Miami; WBCC Cocoa; WUCF Orlando; Tampa stations WUSF and WEDU; and WPBA Atlanta.
After going it alone for eight years, NBC Owned Television Stations outsourced its master control centralcasting to Encompass Digital Media. From a single hub in Atlanta, Encompass handles basic master control chores for the 10 NBC O&Os — their main channels as well as their subchannels as well as six of NBCUniversal’s Telemundo stations. The classic hub-and-spoke centralcasting model runs on the Snell Group’s Morpheus software-based automation and media management system.
Centralcasting and IT-based playout are key areas of focus in the U.S. for Snell, a leading supplier of technology for TV and distribution. Simon Derry, the company’s CEO, explains that Snell has the ability to take much of the capital and operating costs out of master control with its Morpheus automation system and ICE “channel in a box.” And it’s working with broadcasters around the U.S., who are in the early stages of deploying its solutions.
Cowles is putting the finishing touches on a three-station centralcasting system in Washington state that uses fiber links obtained from Charter Cable in a retransmission consent deal to connect the hub — KHQ Spokane — with KNDO Yakima and KNDU Richland. The centralcasting system is the culmination of more than three years of planning and upgrading on the KHQ facility that also puts the station on the verge on being fully HD.
Stations in each market must band together and share master control and other technical facilities. It’s the key to operating the traditional broadcasting business most efficiently, and to entering the new worlds of mobile and OTT. Locally outsourced and cooperatively operated on a centralcasting model, such Media Processing Centers will empower TV stations to become right-sized and more profitable while implementing new services. For the participating stations, they would replace heavy capital and uncertain maintenance costs with steady monthly payments.
TV stations in a market should band together and and create a facility that would provide centralized play-out services for all of the stations’ multiple program streams.The synergies could be huge, and would not be burdened with the heavy fiber connectivity costs that have discouraged regional and national centralcasting efforts.
The young firm sees a growing opportunity in providing a service that, for a fee, frees TV stations from the considerable costs of maintaining and upgrading their local master control and from manning it around the clock.
ABC, Fox and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. are among the broadcasters investing in a new generation of lower-cost centralcasting technology based on the convergence of Internet, computing and broadcasting technologies. They offer remote-controlled systems operations and enterprise management via low bandwidth connections — in other words, the promise of group broadcasting with fewer people at lower cost.