Michael Grotticelli / Broadcast Engineering Extra
07.31.2014 08:02 PM
Local Cable Provider Serves Viewers with Tightrope Media Technology
A new master control center, production truck benefit from multichannel scheduling, playout, and slo-mo instant sports replays.

ST. PAUL, MINN.--Suburban Community Channels has been the Community TV and media resource connection for the northeast Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs for more than 30 years; delivering 17 physical channels from its facility.

As the local cable franchise authority for Comcast, the PEG broadcaster delivers eight channels of programming across 12 municipalities, including discrete government channels for each community. Suburban Community Channels populates its remaining channels with a variety of imported and locally produced content, the latter of which includes live broadcasts of high school sports.

Suburban Community Channels master control suite features a Tightrope Media Systems Cablecast server and automation software platform.
"It was clear we needed to rebuild master control from the day I was hired," said Michael Simonds, technical lead for Suburban Community Channels. "We had a 25-year old system based on old analog composite video equipment and relay machine control, along with a massively sized router and automation system."

Suburban Community Channels recently upgraded its facility with a full complement of master control and branding technology from Tightrope Media. In master control, a Tightrope Cablecast server and automation software platform deliver television programming to Comcast viewers, simultaneously serving on-demand content to online viewers.

Cablecast has played a significant role for the core master control operation, cost-efficiently transitioning Suburban Community Channels from analog to SDI digital while establishing an HD-ready future. On July 16, "On Location TV19" became the first channel in the cluster to transition to HD.

"The Cablecast technology quickly and cleanly transitioned us to a digital environment while introducing a large number of operational efficiencies--not to mention returning real estate to our master control center, said Simonds.

Many of the new operational efficiencies now enjoyed by Simonds and his team are tied to centralized workflows. Operators can connect to the central Cablecast server from any location with web access, and schedule programming weeks in advance; or make scheduling changes on the fly. Cablecast also allows Suburban Community Channels to quickly add new channels and applications, the most recent of which was a video-on-demand service that offers city council meetings on the website of its member municipalities.

Suburban Community Channels also installed several Tightrope Carousel digital signage systems to support transitional broadcast feeds, including bulletin boards between programs. The Carousel systems also deliver a mix of rotating informational programming for visitors and employees inside its lobby areas, providing an additional public-facing benefit for establishing community connections.

Suburban Community Channels also maintains a remote production truck for special events, like the local varsity football games and other local high school sporting events. On board the truck, they use a Tightrope ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay system for highlights.



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