USAGM Inks Deal With Video Call Center to Support Interactive TV, Video Streams

PALISADES, N.Y.—The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) has awarded the Video Call Center (VCC) a federal contract for access to VCC’s platform to create interactive video chat-driven TV programs and social video programs, the company announced today.

The government agency will use VCC’s HAT automation system and Caller Queue technology as well as consulting and production support services to create TV and video streaming programs in which audiences participate on camera.

“The VCC is proud to support the USAGM as it explores new techniques to engage with audiences around the world,” said Larry Thaler, CEO of the VCC. “This is a remarkable opportunity that showcases how the comprehensive video-call based production techniques pioneered at the VCC are valued by USAGM to expand the tools it has to interact with audiences.”

The government contract, the first awarded to VCC, will allow USAGM to develop a series of new TV and video productions. Audience members and guests will have the ability to participate in a show in a manner similar to call-in radio but with broadcast-quality video of all participants, the company said.

Under the contract, USAGM will have access to efficient workflows leveraging automation to reduce the number of technical crew members to a minimum. The VCC system includes Caller Queue, which provides the agency with cloud-based waiting rooms branded to each show where callers wait till it’s their turn to appear, it said.

With the system, show producers can see who is waiting, understand what a caller wishes to discuss, prioritize callers, talk to them and select callers to appear on air, the company said.

The contract also gives USAGM access to HVCC’s HAT system that automates tasks typically done by a technical director, audio mixer and graphics operator. Using HAT, a show host or single non-technical producer can produce a program without distraction while the show is on the air. Production teams can be located virtually anywhere around the world, the company said.

HAT uses contextual information about who is speaking to react automatically and switch professional on-air looks, including shot selection, crosstalk boxes, graphics, pacing, dissolves and cuts.

USAGM, formerly called the Broadcast Board of Governors, oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Office of Cuba Broadcasting Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

More information is available on the VCC website.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.