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PMM Leverages Sony’s Ci to Transform Public Broadcasting Archive

Sony Ci
PPM uses the cloud-based storage features of Sony’s Ci to handle more than 80,000 files for many public TV stations around the U.S. (Image credit: Sony )

DENVER—Public Media Management’s PMM broadcast technology platform serves more than 20 PBS stations and is the only cloud-based master control solution in public television. It implements new technology solutions that help our business and our clients’ streamline workflows, and transition from a restrictive CAPEX model to a flexible OPEX model by leveraging the power and scalability of the cloud. 

As vice president of operations, I oversee our network operations center and am also involved in project management, integrating and onboarding new stations, managing station and technology upgrades, and working with our vendor partners. Serving nearly two dozen stations and tens of millions of households means we deal with a large volume of content that needs to be acquired and coupled with metadata, transcoded to correct playout formats and delivered to customer stations. 

Into the AWS Cloud
In the past, stations typically relied on tape storage combined with spinning disks for long-term archive. Employing the cloud for archive eliminates many of the challenges presented by outdated storage methods. The redundancy the cloud offers and the fact that Sony’s cloud-based Ci platform sits on top of AWS gives us peace of mind that our content is secure, dependable and protected.  

When PMM was formed, we chose to leverage the cloud using Sony’s Ci platform. Ci is used for central storage of all of PMM’s national PBS content for master control, as well as high-speed automated file transfer to all stations. Individual stations can have their own broadcast archive that seamlessly integrates with their local master control system.

One of the benefits of this is that our stations no longer have to store any of the national content that PBS distributes. We acquire all the content distributed by PBS at our operations center, put it through a QC process and upload it to our Ci Workspace. Our member stations have access to that Workspace, where the PBS content is readily available and automated for their download and playout. In addition, our broadcast archive sits in Ci and is accessible to all PMM stations. 

Beyond PMM’s Ci Workspace, many of our member stations choose to use Ci for their own local archive. Ci is integrated with PMM in a way that enables stations at a local level to store their specific productions in a Workspace and manage the content in a workflow that allows it to be scheduled and automatically pulled down from Ci to their PMM system to playout to air. 

Reducing Storage Costs
Another valuable aspect to using Ci is the platform’s storage management policies. Since PMM launched in 2015, we’ve kept every single piece of content that we’ve acquired—which totals more than 80,000 files. Using Ci’s storage policy, we can easily identify any content that hasn’t been active within the last 12 months and automatically send it to archive. This saves us money and space and dramatically reduces our storage costs. This seamless process is integrated with our scheduling system with APIs—auto-restoring content scheduled for air and downloading without a need for user interaction.

For PMM, we’ve found many more benefits associated with Ci and cloud archive. The flexibility it affords in reformatting our entire library is a big advantage. In addition, being able to store a large volume of content without having to worry about going to a different LTO version or doing a storage upgrade is very helpful, especially because of the number of sites we serve. 

Another great asset is the ability to give our stations complete access to our archive—at any time, from anywhere they’re located. Additionally, Ci extends beyond storage and archive and supports open APIs. For PMM, Ci provides a robust and collaborative production workflow environment along with effortless transcoding capabilities that can grow and scale alongside our organization.  l

Scott Shactman is vice president of operations for PMM. In this role, he spearheads operations for a joint master control NOC (Network Operations Center), serving more than 20 PBS stations. He can be reached at scott@pmm.org.  

For more information visit www.sonymcs.com.

Scott Shactman is Vice President of Operations for Public Media Management