AZCAR helps AETN build new production facilities

System integrators and engineering services company AZCAR Technologies has been tapped by the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) to build new digital production facilities to update an existing analog plant in Conway, Ark.

AZCAR is providing system design and engineering specifications for the new addition to a building that includes broadcast equipment more than 20 years old. The new design will allow AETN to send one single stream to feed four separate public television transmitters that currently cover the state and four individual digital feeds. The system will also enable the electronic insertion of local material and station ID information.

The new 25,000 sq. ft. digital facility — housed in an existing building that features other businesses on the ground floor — will include studio production and master control operations; with programming originating from this facility distributed via video servers and a 400-mile microwave interconnect network to AETN’s transmitters across the state. Once it begins digital transmission (sometime next year), AETN will have the capability to distribute four separate data streams that can carry customized content to each region.

A digital routing system with a 256x256 matrix (to be initially populated with 128x128) will carry video signals with embedded audio and serve as the basis for the entire digital plant. The proposed server system will support a wide variety of video formats, including the direct ingest of DV and Betacam IMX footage; the two house formats selected by the AETN.

Program elements will be assembled in Conway and sent out via four separate encoders feeding the various transmitters serving the state. NTSC channels will also originate in Conway from the new infrastructure.

Digital transmitters and tower construction for AETN is in the initial stages and looks to be on target for a May 2003 DTV start date, in line with the FCC’s mandate. Initial construction work has begun and is scheduled for completion by the middle of 2003, according to the company.

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