Excellence Awards Sundance Rogers

Category New studio technology
— non-broadcast Submitted by Sundance Digital Design teamRogers Television:
Pierre Fortin, national mgr, production eng.;
Jim Montgomery, sr. sys. designer
Sundance Digital:
Eric Harrington, dir. of eng. and customer support; Kurt Caruthers, dir. of sales, Canada and the central region Technology at work Harris/Leitch
Integrator Gold router
NEXIO servers
X75 synchronizers
SuiteView multidisplay processor
Inscriber RTX
Sundance Digital Titan automation

Rogers Television's new nine-channel master control facility

Several years ago, Rogers Television acquired cable operations in New Brunswick, with six TV stations operating on a rudimentary system of manual tape playback and router switching. The stations broadcast a total of nine channels in addition to a couple of basic network feeds originating from Moncton.

Management saw the opportunity to take advantage of the existing fiber-optic interconnections between stations, upgrade to a modern automation system and centralize playback in one master control location. It also wanted to continue having live programs originate from stations in the cities of Moncton and Bathurst, which both broadcast two channels (one in English and one in French), Saint John’s, Fredericton, Edmundston, Acadian Peninsula and Miramichi. These stations produce almost all of their content in-house. They do not use syndicated programming, or accept paid advertising, but run regular breaks and promotional spots.

After deciding to automate at a centralized master control, Rogers began evaluating automation systems. Sundance Digital’s Titan automation was selected because the system is modular, IT-based and has the fl exibility to go easily beyond nine channels if more channels are needed in the future.

On the fi rst fl oor of the Moncton facility, the old master control was left intact while a larger area was gutted on the third fl oor to accommodate the newly designed facility. The larger space was necessary because the old station was only playing out four channels at the time, and the new master control would be handling all nine for the province.

Today, the Rogers Moncton master control has consolidated nine playlists, all handled by a single master control operator for the entire province. Each of the six cities is tied via fiber to Moncton and can inject live programming into their playlists along with a mix of server program content and planned breaks coming off the Harris/Leitch NEXIO servers. Now there are only a few tape roll-ins a day. Each playlist is encoded in MPEG and distributed around the province to the individual headends for distribution to the cable systems. The old master control was recycled into new office space.

The new master control facility has improved productivity. People who used to deal part time with tape playback are now free to focus their efforts on creating program content. In a small system, this reclaimed time is substantial. More importantly, playout is smoother and delivers a more professional product to the cable subscriber. If Rogers adds more French language channels, they can be accommodated. The facility is engineered for fi ve more SD channels, although the router core is SD/HD, and the video servers can be upgraded to HD.