DUBLIN—Television broadcasting commenced in Ireland in 1961 and since then public broadcaster RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) has expanded its channel offering and adopted new technologies to ensure the best possible transmission quality for its viewers. This approach has continued with the installation of a new compliance recording system based on technology developed by logging and monitoring specialist Mediaproxy.
RTÉ now broadcasts six TV channels from its headquarters in the south Dublin district of Donnybrook: RTÉ One, RTÉ 2, RTÉ News Now, children's channel RTÉjr, RTÉ One+1 and RTÉ 2+1. The broadcaster also operates four main national radio stations, including the Irish language Raidió na Gaeltachta, five digital-only radio services and new media platforms including the RTÉ.ie website and RTÉ Player.
Like other leading broadcasters today, RTÉ was facing the increasingly difficult task of monitoring multiple channels over linear and online outlets. With the compliance recording system it had been using to do this coming to the end of its life, a tender request to find a replacement was issued in 2017. "After evaluating a number of options, we concluded Mediaproxy provided the best overall fit in terms of our internal systems and budget and that it would help deliver a better-quality experience for our viewers," explains RTÉ Senior Technical Project Manager Paul Hennessy.
In laying out its brief for Compliance Recording, RTÉ drew up stringent technical specifications that would allow for recording of seven linear TV channels, with the option to expand to a total of 10. Chief amongst the stated requirements was for the system to record HD-SDI at up to 3mbp/s for each channel with capability for SDI encapsulated in IP, conforming to SMPTE standards ST 2022-6/7 and ST 2110. There also had to be the means for recording subtitles conforming to WST (World System Teletext) Line 335 and Free TV OP47 14/577, reference timecode and a minimum of eight audio channels.
The user interface and overall method of playing back information had to be in the form of a web client working with the HTML 5 player. This would have to display subtitles and/or timecode during the playback process, with options for selecting audio description or alternative language tracks. Another stipulation was the ability to share and export clips, either with or without the use of ancillary services, and send 24-hour block or data range outputs of selected channels to disk or other devices.
Search facilities needed to be based on a number of parameters, including data, time and metadata, as well as in conjunction with user-entered timecode. Content playback had to happen in real-time, with the ability to access the web client remotely from locations not on the broadcast center campus. Local storage of HD media for up to a year was another necessity, with the option of pushing material to a networked store.
All of this had to be fully automated with regards to continuity of recording, with provision for generating email or SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) alerts of faults such as frozen pictures, loss of video and/or audio, low levels, recording failure and absence of subtitles. In addition to this the system had to monitor and log loudness compliance and DPI (Digital Program Insertion), as well as integrating with Active Directory 208 and as-run data from channel management or schedule reconciliation systems.
On the recommendation of Dublin-based systems integrator Broadcast Video Services (BVS) via U.K. reseller Polar Graphics, RTÉ selected Mediaproxy's LogServer software logging, monitoring and reporting package. This offers compliance recording applications including the capability to seamlessly record multiple channels, which can then be reviewed and monitored live. It monitors video, audio and real-time data from the main formats used in broadcasting today, including 4K, IP, SDI, SMPTE 2022-6, SMPTE 2110, HLS and RTMP.
RTÉ's LogServer system conforms to the specifications laid out in the tender and also includes an HTML player, built-in multiviewer, OTT monitoring, watermark decoding and burnt-in metadata. It operates in two sites on the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook; the primary being in the TV center and the secondary in the Administration building. The two are connected over a fiber link.
The installation went live in early 2018 and has become a key part of RTÉ's operations. The system is used by more than 100 people, with the number of channels and interfaces expanding in just over a year. Commenting on LogServer's role at RTÉ, Paul Hennessy says, "Since we installed the compliance recording system we have launched a new channel, RTÉ 2+1, and moved to 24-hours a day broadcasting of RTÉ One+1. As part of the launch of those two channels we used the compliance monitoring system to assist with extensive testing. It has proven to be a very useful tool, with the ease of use, particularly in adding channels and users, being of great benefit."
Paul Hennessy is RTE's senior technical project manager.