Embracing all nine public television stations within the state of New York, and the stations of the New Jersey Public Television (NJTV), Centralcast consolidates broadcast operations into a single hub that maximizes operational efficiency with a minimum of overhead expense. WCNY in Syracuse, the groundbreaking model’s lead station, went online in late 2012 from a 3500sq-ft Joint Master Control Operation (JMCO) located within the station’s new 57,000sq-ft Broadcast and Education Center. The other station partners, including WCFE (Plattsburgh), WLIW (Garden City), WMHT (Albany), WNED (Buffalo), WNET (New York City), WPBS (Watertown), WSKG (Binghamton) and WXXI (Rochester), plus NJTV and a national PBS specialty programming service, are slated to follow in short order, bringing the total number of program streams to 35.
On the technical side, Centralcast’s JMCO incorporates a data-driven, automated workflow solution that reduces risk while increasing flexibility, performance and scalability. The system, which operates with a “monitoring by exception” mindset, notifies the on-duty operator only if a problem develops. It relies heavily on the end-to-end content management and play-to-air automation solutions of Evertz Microsystems, consisting of Mediator (content management and playout automation), OvertureRT LIVE (playout), SuperNAS (storage), MAGNUM (unified facility control)/VUE and VistaLINK (SNMP based network management).
Myers Information Systems’ ProTrack TV traffic and scheduling software integrates with the Evertz Mediator software, completing the end-to-end workflow. ProTrack centralizes content acquisition and metadata management, facilitates content sharing among stations, captures content revisions, and tracks media assets across both central and local libraries. Knowing schedule and usage needs, ProTrack ensures that programs and other broadcast content are acquired in-time for air. ProTrack is also instrumental in managing media assets to optimize available storage.
ProTrack, used by virtually all PBS member stations, was initially designed to meet the unique requirements of public broadcasting, and has grown from there. Its scheduling and business management software has long been a key to the success of individual stations. Standardizing all Centralcast stations under a common traffic system creates a unified and streamlined workflow.
The JMCO facility is expected to save some $25 million over 10 years in reduced equipment, operating and maintenance costs. And since the facility can support up to 200 DTV channels, additional revenue may be generated by offering the service to other regional broadcasters. Azzurro Systems Integration is serving as the systems integrator for the JMCO project.
Centralcast represents a new era for Public Broadcasting, one that combines cutting-edge technology with a rational approach to operational efficiency. The innovative endeavor will go a long way toward helping member stations become more self-sufficient, while ensuring the availability of high-quality PBS content to the area’s loyal viewing audience for years to come.