11.03.2005 01:40 PM
The business side of digital workflow

SchduALL's ScheduLINK satellite and terrestrial network management system
Automation Technology Update spoke with Rick Richardson of ScheduALL about the business side of broadcasting. Richardson said companies are concentrating too much on digital content workflow, and neglecting the efficiencies that can be gained by proper business management.

In manufacturing, every process is carefully monitored so that management can optimize the use of physical assets and personnel. As television moves from the craft paradigm to the content factory model, to increase efficiency and profitability, the broadcaster needs a management information system that is tailored to the special needs of the media business.

Such a system helps broadcasters run their businesses, and eliminates redundant operations. Workflow is an overused term in this industry, but it does sum up the script to screen content creation process. As the industry moves to a file-based production, media and digital asset management is replacing the tape libraries as a means of tracking content. However, the business side of workflow is often overlooked.

Broadcast operations can generate several questions:

  • How long was the editing job?
  • Was it ever aired?
  • What was the total cost of production?

Today some of this information is readily available. Most stations use tight integration between playout and sales so revenue is closely monitored. It is program production that has traditionally lacked accurate monitoring of the true costs.

In a file-based system, it is easier to log information. What has been lacking is the means to collect, collate and reconcile activities in the workflow.

Another consequence of file-based production is that bandwidth management is replacing the traditional courier operations that move tapes around. Bandwidth is always limited, and traffic will expand to fill any unused bandwidth. The manual management of circuits by operators is expensive and will not necessarily achieve optimum utilization. The problems multiply for ad hoc circuits set up for special events like sports and election coverage. Bandwidth has to be prioritized for time-sensitive content but background operations should not suffer undue latency.

A key goal is to efficiently build a system that aggregates DAM, sales, playout, resource scheduling and rights management into a management information system. The advent of new software frameworks that use Web services to link third-party applications can make it easier to integrate systems that are both affordable and maintainable. Flexibility is key, so that systems can be easily customized to match the business processes.

For more information, visit www.scheduall.com

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