Stations Stick to Web Protocol

Jan 20, 2010  •  Post A Comment

By Hillary Atkin

As every news director and assignment desk editor knows, ENG and even satellite trucks have their limitations, whether they are distance, terrain or safety concerns. That’s why many news organizations across the country are embracing IP (Internet Protocol) video transmission, especially when it comes to situations like broadcasting live from a rolling bus, or from the middle of a lake — or using a live link from a 20th floor office when the mayor decides to hold a news conference.

For some station groups, the efforts are part of a next-generation newsroom initiative, which calls for deploying whatever new technologies can get breaking news up the fastest, both online and on air — whether it’s a reporter taking a still picture on a BlackBerry that goes up on the Web or using a laptop’s air card to transmit a clip at a Starbucks.

Streambox is one of the platforms making inroads into the insular newsgathering world, offering news organizations the ability to feed back high-quality video and go live via broadband and Wi-Fi in situations where it would be difficult or impossible for a microwave truck to maneuver.

Skype, a free IP service that is primarily targeted toward consumers for telephone and video calls, was an early solution for some stations like WBRC-TV in Birmingham, Ala.

“We immediately recognized the value of delivering live video, and stations were quick to put [Skype] on in situations like storm chasing, early on before these other professional solutions were developed,” said Mike McClain, VP and news director of Fox-owned WTVT-TV in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. “Skype’s picture is what it is. I have used it in the past at other stations. There are situations in which it’s very handy.”

On the other hand, Streambox, an IP program designed especially for professional use, comes at a cost, but offers “a much higher-quality picture,” McClain said.

“Our primary clientele is TV stations and networks, but also government, military, relief organizations, anybody that has video as a mission-critical part of what they do. The film industry and post houses are big customers of ours,” said Tim Heiner, director of sales for Streambox. “The big advantage is very efficient but high reliability over IP networks. The quality and reliability of low-cost networks — that’s our claim to fame.”

WTVT experimented with various applications and went with Streambox in July 2009, installing the application on three field laptops and getting two decoders at the station. The setup allows for two live streams on air at the same time, or going back to back from one to the other.

“We use whatever we need, however we can get it. It makes our job more exciting. We are not bound by traditional notions anymore. It’s whatever fits,” said Brian Bracco, vice president of news at Hearst television stations, who oversees news operations at nearly 30 stations. “You wouldn’t want to use ENG trucks in the height of an electrical storm, but you could transmit outside a house with a good wireless connection and be as safe as you can be.”

Using IP transmission does present some challenges, and the biggest is latency. Often a field crew will transmit video via IP but have its reporter on the phone for a live talkback with anchors.

“The Streambox has several settings, and the higher the bandwidth the lower the latency. With a robust connection, delay could be as little as 2 seconds. That’s really acceptable,” McClain said, adding that transmitting through an air card on current 3G networks creates a 10-second to 15-second latency and requires about 20 minutes to feed about 1 minute of video — making it a less desirable choice.

Telco executives say it’s just a matter of time before 4G coverage and Wi-MAX are widely deployed throughout the country at speeds 10 times faster than 3G, alleviating the time lag and delay problems.

But with news departments working overtime to be ever more nimble and competitive, the current technology is a boon to newsgathering.

“It’s now a daily occurrence. People used to think deadlines were 5, 6 and 11 p.m.,” Bracco said. “The deadline is now. As soon as you get it, you get it to the Web. We’re using all the tools. There are a lot of efficiencies here. We’re publishing, posting and broadcasting more things than we were before and remaining relevant.”

The recent East Coast storms and severe weather provided many situations in which to use IP transmission to augment ENG and satellite.

“Once we set up with a microwave and satellite truck, it’s hard to move around with a big truck and there are safety concerns,” said Kingsley Smith, VP and news director of Fox’s WTXF-TV in Philadelphia, which broadcast 12 continuous hours of coverage during the Dec. 19, 2009, record snowfall.

“We put a Streambox inside a snowplow, with a live camera inside the cab, talking to the driver, and called it the ‘plowcam.’ Stations in the upper Midwest had done this, so it’s not breaking entirely new ground, but it’s not something we had done,” Smith said. “It also gave us the ability to be live at a lot of other locations throughout the day from small towns, so it greatly expanded our footprint.”

Streambox was also deployed during the 2009 World Series to go live on a train heading from Philadelphia to New York with Phillies fans. “As a producer, to have an element like that, that’s got to get you jazzed up,” said Smith.

The station also uses Skype video connections to do a weekly morning show talkback segment with disc jockeys at a local radio station, and from the offices of its medical correspondent. “It puts us inside a studio or office without having to string cable — and with a good solid high-speed connection with a good-quality camera, you can go live,” Smith said.

56 Comments

  1. Hello there, superb article, I thouroughly enjoyed reading this. This article gave me the momentum to try my own article, please check my post by clicking my name at the top of this article, thanks

  2. Great post!

  3. JUST FOR GIRLS

  4. JUST FOR GIRLS

  5. JUST FOR GIRLS

  6. JUST FOR GIRLS

  7. JUST FOR GIRLS

  8. Great post!

  9. Excellent job.

  10. Wonderful to read!

  11. Thanks for your visiting this http://www.watchau.com online store.

  12. Great post!

  13. Found your site today on Yahoo Search. Very nice site. Do you have a mailing list of some sort?

  14. Thanks for your visiting this http://www.watchau.com/replica-pens/ online store.

  15. Thanks for your visiting this http://www.hello-free.com/freebies online Free WebSite.

  16. Philadelphia Eagles jerseys is very beautiful.

  17. My bro told me about this site just today. Great blog you’ve got!

  18. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  19. Found your site today through Google. Great blog you’ve got, bookmarked.

  20. I’m thankful for this beneficial brilliant page; this could be the variety of subject that sustains me though out the day.We’ve often heard been not long ago looking close to inside your web-site ideal immediately after I noticed about these from a near good friend and was delighted when I was in a very placement to acquire it adhering to looking out for some time. Being a enthusiastic blogger, I’m happy to view other people today taking effort and including to the neighborhood. I just wanted to remark to demonstrate my comprehending for a upload because it is particularly inviting, and many writers do not get the credit score they have earned. I’m optimistic I’ll be back again once again and can send a couple of of my friends.

  21. I like this sport. You like it? what you think of it? If you have some time, it may wish to continue your article to share with you the happiness.

  22. I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog. Did you code this yourself or was it done by a professional? I’m very very impressed.

  23. I would like to start my own blog one day. This was a really nice blog that you made here. Keep up the success 😛

  24. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  25. carry on

  26. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply back as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know wheere u got this from. thanks

  27. I lately came across your blog and have been learning along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don’t know what to say except that I have loved reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very frequently.

  28. Have you considered including some differing opinions on the write-up? I think it’ll genuinely improve viewers’ understanding.

  29. Interesting layout on your blog. I really enjoyed reading it and also I will be back to read more in the future.

  30. I had a site like this once, but I had so many spam comments I had to close it. You appear to be doing a better job keeping out the spammers! Congratulations!

  31. Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  32. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  33. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  34. Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy.

  35. Thanks for sharing such useful information.

  36. I love the expression. Everyone needs to express there own opinion and feel free to hear others. Keep it up :)

  37. Great article! I like your web site very much. Take a look at my internet directory.

  38. We are happy to invite you to submit all your posts to the internet directory.

  39. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  40. Thanks just for this blog. Thats all I can say. You most surely have made this weblog into something thats eye opening and important. You obviously know so much concerning the topic, youve coated so many bases. Wonderful things from this part with the net. Once again, thanks just for this blog.

  41. Love all the opinions expressed here! How is everyone? Love how everyone expresses whatr they feel :)

  42. Neat blog layout! Very easy on the eyes.. i like the colors you picked out

  43. Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It’s people like you that make my day :)

  44. A friend provided a url to your website. It’s really cool, I’m going to be back definitely.

  45. I have meant to publish about a thing like th is on one particular of my blogs and th is gave me an idea. TY.

  46. Took me time to look at every single one of the commentary, except I in fact enjoyed the commentary. It proved being in fact obliging to me plus I am positive to every the commenters here! It’s commonly polite when you can not just be informed, but in addition entertained! I am positive you had pleasant writing this write-up.

  47. Great wordpress blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! take care and see you soon

  48. When I view your RSS feed it just gives me a ton of unformatted html, is the deal on my reader?

  49. Why do notyou guys just arrive out and say we love straightforward logos!???

  50. Thanks for offering beneficial information around the topic. Keep posting

  51. Amazing article:) I will require some time to ponder your writing.

  52. I agree with your thoughts here and I really love your blog! I’ve bookmarked it so that I can come back & read more in the future.

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)