New studio technology - station
WMFE-TV finds a bonus channel after adversity
The original plan for WMFE’s new facility in Orlando called for broadcasting four SD channels during the day, one HD and one SD at night, along with a feed for cable — in addition to the NISC hannel.
Construction design called for a large and complex project. And, despite some surprising challenges, the result became more than what was envisioned.
The new multichannel digital station was to be located within what had been a two-story storage area in its existing building. Construction of the master control center was delayed when it was learned that the existing walls did not have the expected — and necessary — concrete reinforcing to support a new second floor.
To create the broadcast systems design and do the installation, WMFE contracted with Professional Communications Systems (PCS). A significant factor in the appointment was PCS’ ability to see upgrade challenges from the perspectives of both the station operator and the systems integrator. As a division of Media General, PCS has direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of dozens of TV stations.
PCS first prepared a scope of work plan, which was used to solicit bids from competing integrators.
Throughout that process, the systems integrator listened to what the station wanted, went away and thought about it, and then brought the station a response that matched its needs.
Thanks to technology developments during a number of delays and the efforts of the design team, WMFE is able to transmit an HD and two SD channels at night — one more than the single, planned SD channel. With the analog channel and cable, the new facility now operates six independent channels by day.
The resulting digital system is fully automated and, if desired, could broadcast from the file storage server for five days without intervention. Other digital storage contains months of reusable programming. PCS also automated the analog station for the facility by augmenting the legacy equipment and systems.
During postponements in the two-year project, PCS stored the equipment it had procured for the station and held off the installation until construction was completed and the station was ready to proceed. Starting later than planned called for a lot of flexibility.
In the sometimes perplexing move to digital operations, it’s not unusual for daunting challenges to occur in an ambitious construction and installation project. For WMFE, the in-process application of new and emerging technology, and a cooperative relationship, overcame adversity. The result is the relatively rare bonus of an additional nighttime SD channel for the Orlando market.