Dakota Media Access Goes HD With Tightrope

BISMARCK, N.D.—As the local public-education-government, or PEG, provider serving the North Dakota cities of Bismarck and Mandan, Media Access has reached an important milestone. As of January 2015, we’re now transmitting our community access and government access programming in high definition. This is more than just a visually appealing makeover; the move to the HD cable tier is also critical to attracting and engaging viewers in today’s competitive media environment.


Holly Schindler, master control/program coordinator, and Phil Miller, technology director at Dakota Media Access, check out the new Tightrope server systems. To accomplish this, we installed a full line of integrated video servers along with playout automation software from Tightrope Media Systems in our headend. These include Cablecast SXLEHD servers for broadcast play-out, Cablecast VOD for video-on-demand, Cablecast Live for web streaming and Cablecast CG 330 for delivery of promos, messaging, weather and announcements. Tightrope solutions now provide the reliable media workflow and infrastructure responsible for all of our programming, including some 250 annual government and public affairs meetings on our government access channel.

In selecting Tightrope, we chose a company that understands the unusual needs of our market. We originally installed Cablecast SD servers in 2006 and the service they provided made our decision to move to Tightrope’s server-based HD products all that much easier. The integrated Cablecast and Carousel workflow gives us dependable, automated, user-friendly multichannel scheduling and playout at an affordable price.

The Cablecast Live and VOD products extend our visibility to online and mobile audiences, reliably streaming content to the web. Viewers can now watch our programming in either HD or SD on cable system channels, or access a media player on our website to watch live streams. We also archive the government meetings, allowing our viewers to search for and view these on demand.

With our limited resources, only needing to schedule programming once in our main Cablecast Pro server’s web-based interface is really a big benefit. Once scheduled, the Cablecast server automatically accommodates multichannel playout, transcoding, branding and crawls. The Cablecast SXHD server automatically transfers program content to the Cablecast Live and Cablecast VOD servers. Based on user selections, the Live and VOD servers automatically transcode content for the consumer’s particular device and publish the selected video to the Internet. This automated serverbased playout system is expertly tailored to the needs of our operation, balancing ease of use with a rich feature set.

While commercial televisions has been broadcasting in HD for years now, many PEG operations have yet to make this transition largely due to the costs. We’re fortunate that the Tightrope product line is so affordable and feature-rich. We’re also fortunate that our cable provider, Midcontinent Communications, recognized that carrying our community and government access channels in high definition is a valuable community service. The new Tightrope HD server infrastructure has played a substantial role in modernizing our facilities and capabilities.

Mary Van Sickle is executive director of Dakota Media Access. She may be contacted at van@freetv.org.

For additional information, contact Tightrope Media Systems at 866-866- 4118 or visit www.trms.com.