Cost-Effective Digital Integration

Like stations across the country, Journal Broadcast Group's WSYM-TV in Lansing, MI, KTNV-TV in Las Vegas, and KMIR-TV in Palm Springs all face the transition to digital, a shift they hope to turn into an advantage. These stations have built their success on providing their communities with popular and provocative programming. Now, with ATSC systems that meet and exceed FCC standards, they will also be providing their viewers with a higher-quality signal, facilitating continued growth within their broadcast markets.

The NBC affiliate KMIR-TV was the first television station on the air in the Palm Springs market, signing on in October of 1968. In Las Vegas, ABC affiliate KTNV-TV offers a diverse blend of programming, including its Emmy award-winning news program News 13 Inside Las Vegas, to one of the fastest-growing cites in the country. And in Lansing, WSYM-TV, a Fox affiliate, with its news, popular syndicated programs, and the recent addition of professional football and baseball programming, delivers the largest primetime 18- to 49-year-old audience in its market.

In undertaking the challenge of creating a forward-looking ATSC system, the Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group (JBG) worked with systems integrator Heartland Video Systems (HVS) to find a solution that could meet all three stations' needs.

Founded in 1990 and based in Plymouth, WI, HVS represents a broad range of products and solutions for broadcast applications. The high definition ATSC rack system HVS designed, built, and installed for WSYM-TV, KTNV-TV, and KMIR-TV utilizes a combination of components to create a standard system that can be adapted in multiple configurations to meet the needs of the end user at the most cost-effective rate. What's more, the system is essentially a shrink-wrapped solutionÑinstallation involves little more than bolting the rack into place.

In creating JBG's ATSC system, HVS first evaluated the needs of the stations and then created a block diagram of the most effective combination of components. After the companies reached an agreement on components and cost, HVS built and preconfigured the three ATSC systems at its facility. Key components of those systems come from Miranda Technologies and TANDBERG Television.

"We've worked with Miranda for nearly a decade, and in choosing the best mix of equipment from different vendors, we knew that we could provide the best price/performance ratio with the incorporation of Miranda components," said Dennis Klas, president of HVS. "The HD rack we built for the Journal Broadcast Group is a high-performance, fault-tolerant DTV system with the familiar look and feel of analog and serial digital systems."

New systems for DTV typically include three subsystems: source coding and compression; multiplexing and transport; and RF/transmission. In the ATSC systems purchased by the JBG, Miranda's Aquila upconverter plays a critical role in the first subsystem by upconverting analog video using advanced 3-D adaptive deinterlacing and interpolation filters to maximize the image quality.

The Aquila gathers information from three fields and applies sophisticated interpolation algorithms to increase pixel count and density. Optimal-quality upconversion is made possible by advanced motion and edge detection algorithms, which allow the interpolation filters to tune to the image, reducing artifacts in the resulting high definition video.

The Aquila can be set to output a variety of DTV formats and provides complete support for 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio conversion, as well as custom settings based on percentages determined for side panels, top and bottom cropping, and anamorphic distortion. Housed in Miranda's latest frame, the Stellar, the Aquila upconverter is connected to Miranda's RCP-100 control hardware and other broadcast systems through an Ethernet link.

The modular architecture of the Stellar gives it flexibility. Capable of housing multiple Aquila units, whether for redundancy or for multichannel upconversion, it allows station operators to upgrade or add channels and outputs as necessary. Together, the Aquila and Stellar feature a fault-tolerant design with redundant power supplies and cooling systems, remote monitoring, and error detection and reporting capabilities.

"Rather than face the expense of a fully redundant system, we decided instead to invest in a combination of components that provide a reliable system with no single point of failure," said Randy Price, vice president of Engineering at JBG. "Miranda's Aquila Stellar is part of what we feel will be a lasting and efficient ATSC system that can adapt to meet our future broadcasting needs."

Also part of the new ATSC systems, Miranda's AAP-702i analog audio processor and VDA-101i analog video distribution amplifier work together within a Symphonie housing frame (also from Miranda) to convert analog audio to digital audio, and digital video from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD).

"The Miranda products in these ATSC systems are highly flexible, giving operators the ability to change or upgrade their system configurations on a component level," said Ian Caldwell, HD product specialist for Miranda. "At a time like this, when broadcast stations are re-engineering their systems to meet the FCC mandate, it is critical that they can implement a DTV solution that will give them a head start in future development through component-based product design."

"The transition to digital has had a significant effect on the operations of broadcast stations everywhere," said Price. "We feel that we've turned it into an opportunity for development, an investment in our future, and in the services we bring to our communities."

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Heartland Video Systems

Journal Broadcast Group

Miranda Technologies

TANDBERG Television