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Ramar Taps Utah-Sci for Master Control

Ramar Communications recently implemented a master control system based on Utah Scientific's UTAH-400 router, MCP-2020A multichannel master control panel, and eight MC-400 master control switchers. The system, which interfaces with Rushworks automation, streamlines and simplifies operations while supporting HD and SD broadcasts for seven television stations in the Southwest.

Ramar Communications, whose flagship station is Lubbock Fox affiliate KJTV, integrated a Utah Scientific MCP-2020 master control panel with eight MC-400 switchers and an embedded UTAH-400 router (V-144R frame, loaded 88x64 3G HD/SDI), enabling any source to be routed to any destination through master control. Besides KJTV, Ramar comprises KMYL, Lubbock; KLCW, Lubbock; KXTQ, Telemundo, Lubbock; KTEL, Telemundo, New Mexico; Fox 34 News Now, Lubbock; and Local 48, a shopping channel for Lubbock.

"We are like a lot of small-market broadcasters in going multicast, and usually the cost of master control systems simply kills the budget," said the station’s director of engineering Tee Thomas. But that was far from the case with Utah, he said, noting the company’s 10-year free warranty without service contracts.

Two more Utah master control features enabled Ramar to devise a more streamlined, automated system. First, the MC-400 switchers include a logo generator that integrates into commercial playback so that a logo can be pulled up over a live event without the need for external devices. Another plus is the system's ability to network the EAS signal over Ethernet, enabling digital satellite receivers in New Mexico to send the EAS signal back to consolidated master control in Lubbock.

The system also incorporates a standby backup in case of master control failure. The workspace is configured as eight side-by-side computer screens, each representing a different Ramar station plus a spare, across a console facing multiviewer monitoring.

Because the master control switcher is also accessible through a GUI on the Rushworks automation playback computer, a single person can control all eight operations if necessary. The multiple software interfaces afford so much flexibility that an operator can route, switch, and encode all without leaving his or her chair.