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Comcast Creates New Operations Management Center

The Comcast Media Center is in the process of consolidating several of its support and operations facilities to create a new Operations Management Center (OMC). The OMC will monitor all of the linear channels, live event television, VOD, and rich media content that is transmitted from the facility.
The OMC is part of an effort to improve content management capabilities on the national level and to deliver content efficiently across multiple platforms including home, office, and mobile devices. The center is being designed to allow for continued growth in the monitoring and support capabilities for the CMC’s newer initiatives, such as VOD.

ABC News Kills DTV’s ABC News Now

In late January, ABC News ended it’s 24/7 DTV secondary news service carried on nearly 70 ABC affiliates, ABC News Now, making the service available only over the Internet and through wireless devices.
ABC began distributing the program on digital channels in an experiment intended to last from just prior to the national conventions through Election Day. The network extended that through the inauguration before deciding to end the experiment.

The network re-evaluated what distribution methods made the most sense, said ABC News spokeswoman Julie Summersgill. While the DTV audience consists of only a few thousand, Internet and wireless distribution will continue as ABC News has multiyear deals with such partners as AOL, she said.

ABC News has begun hiring permanent staffers for ABC News Now. Previously it had borrowed personnel from other ABC News programs.

Public Television & Cable Announce Multichannel Carriage Agreement

While the FCC has knocked down multichannel must carry, the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) announced an agreement for carriage of the nation’s local digital public television stations on digital cable for the foreseeable future.

The “Public Television Digital Cable Carriage Agreement” ensures that local public television stations’ digital programming will be carried on cable systems serving the vast majority of the nation’s cable subscribers.

Terms of the carriage agreement include:
n During the period when Public Television stations are broadcasting both in analog and digital formats, upgraded cable systems that offer HD will carry up to four streams of free non-commercial digital broadcast programming and associated material from one public television station in a market, in addition to the station’s analog signal.

n After all TV stations in a market are transmitting only digital signals, upgraded cable systems that offer HD will carry free non-commercial digital programming of each local must-carry public television station. This carriage may include up to four streams of free non-commercial digital programming and associated material, subject to reasonable programming duplication parameters.

n Any public television station that decides to shut off analog transmission and broadcast in digital-only before the DTV market transition may choose to have its digital signal carried on the upgraded local cable system at that time.

Following approval by the Boards of Directors of APTS, NCTA, and PBS, the agreement must be ratified within 60 days by public television stations in markets that comprise 80% of U.S. TV households, and by cable MSOs representing at least 80% of cable subscribers. The MSOs will begin carrying public television stations pursuant to the agreement within 180 days of its ratification.

There is no provision for cable re-transmission at a DTV signal’s broadcast bandwidth. However, representatives from both the NCTA and the APTS agree that the goal of the agreement is to get the signals carried without those signals being materially degraded.

Reuters Digital Newsgathering

In the past two years, Reuters has taken its newsgathering operation from analog to digital, moving its entire field and bureau acquisition and distribution systems to digital.

From DNG cameras and field editors to its satellite based video transfer system and Telestream network, most of Reuters’ video stays in a digital format from acquisition to client delivery, even when being brought in from the far reaches of the globe. Reuters has pioneered portable systems for use in covering news in the most remote and inhospitable locations.

Using Avid Unity, LanShare, and Anystream Agility systems, bureaus around the world acquire media, edit it, and deliver it to clients through entirely digital means. This includes Reuters’ broadcast feeds and streaming media products.

In Washington, DC, Reuters has an Avid Unity system utilizing eight Airspeeds, one Adrenaline, two Mojos, and an Airspace that allows the bureau to bring in 11 simultaneous feeds and feed out over three channels. A bank of DPS 575AV units on the front end is used to preprocess the video before it is ingested by the Airspeeds, and provide signal monitoring all through the chain.

Reuters has developed its own VOD service (World News Express) that will eventually replace its current analog satellite delivery system. This will provide Reuters’ clients faster access to media since it is sent out immediately, rather than placed in scheduled satellite feed cue.

Reuters is also migrating its global satellite news feed (World News Service) to an IP based delivery system. Currently, Reuters’ clients receive World News Service via an analog or SDI receiver.