PBS receives Excellence Award

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is the winner of the 10th Annual 2011 Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award in the new studio technology/station category. PBS was awarded the Excellence Award for its advanced satellite monitoring capabilities based on Volicon’s Observer Enterprise automated and fully redundant digital video monitoring and logging system.

The PBS Technology Center in Alexandria, VA, provides continuous delivery of transmissions, via four HD channels and eight SD channels, sent to member stations across the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and Samoa. To replace the aging logging system that monitored its satellite transmissions, PBS chose the Observer Enterprise based on its ability to monitor multiple channels, merge as-runs from automation with aired video, enable effective searches across aired content and support easy clip export.

The Observer Enterprise enables engineers to watch live or recorded video within just 2s of transmission, and staff can search back on a playlist for a particular program or even for words that would have been present in closed-captioning at the time. The production staff can then monitor any signal impairments and diagnose those issues quickly. Because the system synchronizes channels to a specific time point, engineers can troubleshoot and determine the scope of the issue. Using the Observer Enterprise's clip export capability, PBS can send video logs to its vendors to quickly illustrate video issues, enhancing communications and speeding resolution of video or audio problems.

Although PBS has been embedding metadata and AFD in its MPEG streams since 2009, the broadcaster previously had no way of logging what had been sent. To address this challenge, Volicon is now working with PBS to add new functionality to the Observer Enterprise that will confirm that AFD codes have been sent correctly and that stations have received the data they need to display a given piece of video properly. If any metadata is determined to be incorrect, engineers in Alexandria will be able use the logging system to look back, see what metadata was transmitted and begin troubleshooting.