LiveU Opens Up New Coverage Opportunity for WFMZ-TV

WFMZ overcomes remote obstacles

ALLENTOWN, PA. - We’re an independent station on the outskirts of the nation’s fourth market of Philadelphia and always work to be competitive with the well-heeled O&Os serving our DMA. While we compete with the Philadelphia stations, we do not have a Philadelphia-sized budget.

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WFMZ-TV covers a wide geographic area that bridges three states and four television markets, with much of the terrain around us quite hilly. The O&Os have satellite trucks and helicopters that allow them to provide live coverage from anywhere in the viewing area, but our remote has historically been limited to microwave technology.

That was before we discovered LiveU.

LiveU’s LU500 connectivity has changed our game. We can now operate like any bigger-budget station in terms of going remote without the associated cost or complexity.

OPENED UP A WHOLE NEW WORLD

With the addition of the LiveU unit, we’ve gone from covering a constricted local geography to covering the world—and all without the hassle or expense of contracting satellite services. This new technology has even allowed us to go live from Saltillo, Mexico where we covered a Pennsylvania church’s involvement with a drug and behavioral rehab center there. We also broadcast from Haiti three times following the 2010 earthquake there. In addition, we covered Obama’s inauguration in Washington. The sports department has used the technology to provide coverage from the Phillies’ Spring Training in Clearwater, Florida.

On the most recent general election night, we were able to deploy five LiveU backpacks across the state—from Pittsburgh-to York-to Scranton—to provide coverage of statewide and congressional races that none of our competitors were able to replicate.

Even within a 20-mile radius of our station, LiveU has enabled us to do live shots that were not possible with microwave technology, as line-of-sight transmission was not an option.

To the north of the station is a mountain ridge on which the Appalachian Trail passes. Until we had LiveU, we were really incapable of going live from anywhere north of that ridge. Now, LiveU has enabled us to be live almost anywhere in our coverage area.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

When WFMZ-TV first started using LiveU several years ago, one of the gubernatorial candidates held his campaign party in Pittsburgh on the other edge of the state. We threw a LiveU backpack in the trunk of a Ford Taurus, and sent a crew off on the six-hour drive to cover the race. Upon pulling up next to satellite trucks from all the major network affiliates, we got our share of skeptical looks. However, after doing live shots all night, our crew was surrounded by people from nearly every outlet there, wanting to know what we were using. Today, we see LiveU backpacks on every location we cover, which shows how our industry has embraced cellular bonding technology.

These examples happen every day, which is why LiveU is so critical for us. Its products enable an independent station to deliver richer stories at a reasonable cost, which was simply not a possibility before. WFMZ-TV is dedicated to bringing the best news possible to our audience, and LiveU is a critical factor in allowing us to do that.

Brad Rinehart is assistant general manager for news and programming at WFMZ-TV and has been with the station since 1984. He may be contacted at bradr@wfmz.com.

For additional information, contact LiveU at 201-742-5228 or visit www.liveu.tv.