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Report says station infrastructures lacking for multiplatform TV traffic

While the industry is eagerly promoting the possibilities of deploying wireless mobile TV services across the country, few are equipped to handle the sheer volume and variety of formats such services need to process to accommodate consumer use. As stations make the move to HD, they should also consider the necessary steps for multiplatform content delivery.

This lack of technical capability to make it work is revealed in a new survey of broadcast engineers at some 350 stations conducted by Positive Flux, a consulting firm that helps media companies target new opportunities, called “U.S. TV Stations Infrastructure: The HD Transition Has Just Begun.”

Larry Thaler, president of Positive Flux, said that stations should be carefully considering organizational improvements and workflow tools that will allow them to “dynamically adapt their production and delivery chains without creating parallel organizations or new layers of technology.”

The report includes analysis of several key infrastructure issues that will be significant to manufacturers, system integrators and station owners and engineers who will address the explosion of formats needed to support multiplatform TV. These include:

· While almost 90 percent of stations have adopted nonlinear editing, most have yet to take the next step of developing unified workflows that will enable them to eliminate costly process duplication in delivering to multiple platforms.

· Many station executives view HDTV and new platform support as a cost of doing business, rather than an opportunity to rethink station operations and add efficiencies.

· Stations groups have barely begun to realize the cost savings from shared production synergies, representing a huge untapped economic benefit and an important opportunity for streamlining processes.

· Although all stations pass their network’s HD feed, many have merely inserted an HD bypass switcher to air network content and therefore still need cost-effective solutions to upgrade their master control facilities. Those same facilities would provide a ready and logical location for supporting the output needs of mobile and over-the-top services.

· Station engineers lack visibility into where their signals go after leaving their facilities. As stations embrace new economic models and new technology including mobile, interactivity and addressable advertisements, knowledge of these downstream paths will become critical for new business development.

“Many stations would benefit financially and creatively by modernizing their operations,” said Don Perez, president of HD Consulting. “The process of converting to HD presents a rare opportunity to get at a station’s underlying foundation and get things right. Positive Flux provides hard data that supports the argument for looking beyond half-measures and instead fully embracing an HD infrastructure. Positive
Flux gives broadcast engineers the numbers they need to make the case for getting the most from their station's HD conversion.”