Product Spotlight: M-Series

Aug 20, 2001  •  Post A Comment

What it is: M-Series, from Encoda Systems, is the next generation of the company’s MCAS-III software. Introduced at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention, it allows for the distribution, control and management of on-air environments at more than one station from a central or remote location using Windows 2000-based architecture.
Evolution: The MCAS-III is a PC-based automation product used to automate video servers, cart machines, routers, master control and other associated on-air equipment at a TV station. The software connects and operates all the equipment in real time with frame-accurate switching, which means it is a “mission-critical real-time solution,” said Joe French, executive vice president of automation at Encoda. The M-Series takes the automation concept a step further by allowing for centralized control of automation.
Centralization trend: Two trends are converging in the M-Series. One movement in the market is for stations to be fully automated, Mr. French said. Another is for station groups to link all their stations together in a common environment to create operating efficiencies. M-Series marries those two trends by allowing for the centralization of automation.
McGraw-Hill uses the technology to manage its three stations in Indianapolis, Denver and San Diego from the Indianapolis station. “During the course of the broadcast day, when they are not doing news or special events, the on-air signal is being managed by Indiana. You don’t need to have people manage [on site] during noncritical times,” Mr. French said.
During the low-revenue period of midnight to 6 a.m., for instance, stations could be managed in one common environment, he said. “More and more stations are interested in centralizing operations, and we believe more groups will do what McGraw-Hill has done.”
Cost: $20,000 to $200,000.
Customers: McGraw-Hill, Meredith Broadcasting, Scripps-Howard. More than 100 stations currently use the MCAS-III, and Mr. French expects many will upgrade to M-Series.