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Ramar Communications integrates eight channels of master control

Lubbock, Texas-based Ramar Communications operates TV, radio stations and Web sites across the Southwest, including Lubbock FOX affiliate KJTV. Master control for the seven TV stations had been installed at different times, each working differently, which made it difficult for the master control operators.

In the new master control suite, finished at the end of last year, the system has been designed from the start with unified control across all channels, HD and SD. The system is based on Utah Scientific switching with RUSHWORKS automation.

Ramar Communications integrated a Utah Scientific MCP-2020 master control panel with eight MC-400 switchers and an embedded UTAH-400 router (V-144R frame, loaded 88 x 64 3G HD/SDI), enabling any source to be routed to any destination through master control.

Ramar Communications director of engineering Tee Thomas wanted the system to be logical and intuitive to operate. “We are like a lot of small-market broadcasters in going multicast, and usually the cost of master control systems simply kills the budget," Thomas said. "Utah Scientific is the only company out there that offers a cost-effective solution by integrating routing and master control switching.”

Thomas was attracted by features of the Utah system. Operators can pull a logo up over a live event using the logo generators in the MC-400 switchers. Another plus is the system's ability to network the EAS signal over Ethernet, enabling digital satellite receivers in New Mexico to send the EAS signal back to consolidated master control in Lubbock.

The system also incorporates a standby backup in case of master control failure. The workspace is configured as eight side-by-side computer screens, each representing a different Ramar station plus a spare, across a console facing multiviewer monitors.