QUINCY, Ill.—Quincy Media is among the leading local television groups in the United States, with stations nationwide from Arizona to New York, as well as two newspapers, two radio stations and digital media platforms. The TV operation involves 24 transmitters, 15 master control rooms, 19 production control rooms and a growing OTT presence simulcast alongside the main terrestrial broadcasts.
An operation of this scale requires comprehensive compliance monitoring in all senses of the term—technical faults, advertising data collection and complaints resolution. Because of this we chose to install a new logging system based on a suite of Mediaproxy products: LogServer TSoIP (Transport Stream over IP), OTT Logging and Monitoring and TS Monitoring/Analysis.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
The need to replace an older monitoring system was one factor behind the upgrade, but there were many other considerations, both technical and operational. Particularly because the old system did not work if the terrestrial transmission went down due to a power outage or other reasons, we needed something that would continue recording no matter what and have 24-hour record capability.
This last feature was important because we have to be able to produce transmission recordings for reference and confirmation in case of queries or protests. If there are any complaints from viewers or advertisers, we need to be able to verify what actually went out. At certain times of the day some of our stations run unattended so having a comprehensive monitoring-recording system gives us the confidence that everything runs as expected. And if it doesn’t, we can go back and see why.
To find a suitable replacement our technical teams tested and demoed three to four different units. From these sessions the Mediaproxy systems emerged as offering all the necessary features. Mediaproxy seemed the most reliable and had an easy-to-use, intuitive interface. It also has 24-hour recording capability and can keep operating even if the transmission is interrupted.
Quincy Media always monitors off air, rather than from the direct output of the broadcast center. This means the compliance recording will show exactly what viewers see and reflect the actual fault. The Mediaproxy systems also have capacity for monitoring OTT—although this has not been implemented yet, we’re working with our OTT providers to find a place to monitor our streams without the need for us to pay a monthly fee to them. There’s also been some discussion about implementing the specific commercial insertion function for OTT. It’s not up and running yet but it’s not far off.
Among the technical faults LogServer has been used to detect since the installation began in mid-July are: off-air signal problems, pictures appearing in black for too long, lost audio, issues with closed captions, equipment failure and operator error. We’re also using the system to log news broadcasts to ensure the correct music licensing clearances have been made and monitor competitors’ transmissions to see what advertising is being carried.
Each of Quincy Media’s local TV stations has its own, standalone monitoring setup. These are self-contained but they link together on an IT network so that any employee at any station within the group—whether in sales, engineering, administration or news—can see what is going on.
The feedback we’ve had from all departments has been positive, both about the ease of use and what the system can do. As a manager, I can watch any station from my desktop and I log into one of the systems at least once a day.
Brendan Ford started working in the broadcast industry in 1992 at WGEM TV, a Quincy Media Inc. property. During his career he has taken on roles in production, creative services and as a director/technical director for weekend newscasts. In 2015, Ford joined the QMI Corporate team as director of control room operations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.mediaproxy.com or call 646-951-5051.