Community TV station launches DTH satellite channel

Many community channels use low-power analog UHF channels, plus cable TV, to reach their audience. As many parts of the world approach analog switch off, the freed spectrum is being auctioned. This potentially leaves community stations without a frequency slot.

Solent TV is the community station for the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. The 150sq mi island hosts premier sailing events each summer, attracting international interest.

As part of its upgrade to a digital infrastructure, the station has taken two radical steps: one is to produce in HD using the XDCAM HD format, the other is to lease a channel on the Sky DTH satellite platform with a footprint covering Western Europe.

Systems integrator Broadcast Networks has developed a turnkey solution especially for community stations, or others operating on restrictive budgets. After careful research, Broadcast Networks found that Miranda’s Xstation would provide the core of the playout system. Low-power community stations find it difficult to stand out in a multichannel world, so branding is just as important as for the primetime networks. The Xstation provides advanced graphics capabilities that can be used to build the brand and provide general CG facilities. Schedules are entered directly into the playlist controller. For video monitoring, the station uses Miranda’s Kaleido multiview system. Broadcast Networks chose a media server from Suitcase TV as the primary content store. Files can be dragged and dropped to the Xstation playlist.

Another limitation for community stations is the cost of the studio-transmitter link. Broadcast Networks was looking for a solution that would not need fiber to the station. By choosing MPEG-4 AVC coding for the link, a bandwidth of less than 4Mb/s provides sufficient quality to link to the uplink service provider. Solent TV uses Globecast to feed the Sky satellite. The MPEG-4 is transcoded at Globecast in London and added to a statmux for uplinking to the transponder. To provide a cost-effective link between Solent TV and Globecast, a distance of about 90mi, Broadcast Networks arranged a private IP connection, with 2 x 2Mb/s copper pairs for the local end. Being a regular telco circuit, it also has 4Mb/s of reverse data capacity, which the station can use as a contribution circuit.

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