by Lou Strowger Chief Engineer Communications Corp. of America KWKT/KYLE Television – Waco, Texas

ComCorp Automates With MediaFire

By 2004, with our company, Communications Corp. of America (ComCorp), owning and operating or providing programming and services to more than 20 stations in Louisiana, Texas and Indiana, we knew it was time to automate master control operations. We decided to follow a two-stage path to automation: First we would streamline the process of downloading programming from Pathfire™ and then move to complete master control automation. Since then we’ve added a third stage-expansion to HD.

We chose Digital Broadcast’s MediaFire System for several reasons. First, it handled the download of Pathfire™ programming more effectively than anything else we found. With MediaFire’s direct interface to Pathfire™, material received on the Pathfire™ server is automatically transferred to the MediaFire for play-out without operator intervention and with no transcoding required. Transfer speed is excellent, with a half hour show taking about five to six minutes. This reduced our workload and video quality remained uncompromised.

Further, as part of our second-stage, we were able to expand our MediaFire servers into full-blown automation systems, including control of switching, logo insertion and other functions. With MediaFire’s automated play-out, traffic and billing interfaces, automated scheduled recording and asset management software, our stations are now fully automated. Master control staff can now be dedicated to higher level preparation tasks and just simple monitoring of on-air play-out.

STEPPING UP TO HD

Now that Pathfire™ is delivering HD syndicated programming, we have expanded our MediaFire Systems to include HD play-out. We can take HD programming directly from Pathfire™ to our MediaFire for play-out and we’ve found the HD quality to be excellent. We can comfortably run the HD syndicated program right before and after network HD feeds with no discernable difference in quality.

The feedback on MediaFire’s HD play-out has been so positive that we’re ready to take on any HD syndicated programming offered. We’re moving all ComCorp stations to MediaFire HD capability.

Utilizing Digital Broadcast MediaFire News System, ComCorp launched “FOX News Louisiana” in April 2007. Originating from WGMB in Baton Rouge, it is carried by stations in Lafayette, Alexandria and Shreveport, with local news, weather and sports segments inserted at each of the ComCorp stations in these markets.

All these systems are Digital Broadcast file-based servers that are synchronized and linked together with two-way fiber video into a live broadcast “triangle.” With this configuration, live news broadcast at one location is also broadcast live at the other two locations. They, in turn, insert their own local news, weather and sports stories into the live broadcast from Baton Rouge.

In all my broadcasting experience, I’ve never dealt with a company that has worked as closely with us to meet our needs as Digital Broadcast. Some applications for our MediaFire systems were virtually custom-written. Digital Broadcast listened to us and quickly responded to our needs and suggestions. As a result, we have a system that works extremely well and the MediaFire, in turn, has benefited from our input.

Digital Broadcast’s MediaFire has enabled ComCorp to follow our multistaged plan to fully automated master control throughout our network of stations. We expect to continue to work with Digital Broadcast to enhance our MediaFire systems as new technologies develop.

Lou Strowger is chief engineer for the Communications Corp. of America and has been with that company for 11 years. He may be contacted at lstrow@kwkt.com.

For additional information, contact Digital Broadcast at 352-377-8344 or or via email.

Copyright 2008 IMAS Publishing (USA), Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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