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ParkerVision offers big-market solution

Mar 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

When KMGH-TV in Denver automates the live production of its newscasts beginning in June, the station hopes the change will allow it to reduce its technical staffing needs and to direct more resources toward content.
That’s because during the next few months the ABC affiliate will be implementing a ParkerVision CR4000 production automation system, which aims to help large-market stations save money and realize operating efficiencies.
The KMGH installation will be the first for the CR4000, the latest in ParkerVision’s PVTV news automation systems that completely automate the production process, including camera operation, graphics insertion, special effects, tape machine operation and TelePrompTer automation. That means a station can shrink its technical staff, since it usually needs only one or two people to run a newscast, which helps decrease human error and improve consistency.
The CR4000 is the first ParkerVision system geared specifically toward networks and large-market stations. Other ParkerVision systems, such as the 24 Plus! introduced last fall, are targeted to medium-market broadcasters. But top-tier stations have more intense graphical needs and higher story counts, and they need an automation system that can handle both the automation and the rigors of their newscasts, said Richard Sisisky, president and chief operating officer of Jacksonville, Fla.-based ParkerVision.
“When we get to the top-tier stations, they all want more,” said Matt Danilowicz, VP of business development for ParkerVision.
That’s why the CR4000 has additional functions to reproduce the look and feel of a large-market newscast. The CR4000 can handle five key layers back to back, while a 24 Plus! can only manage three. Every graphical element or image laid on top of the TV screen, such as a crawl, is a key layer.
“What the CR4000 does is it really allows an operator to undertake complex transitions between shots in a way that would be difficult to do manually if you don’t have the arms of an octopus,” Mr. Danilowicz said.
The CR4000 allows for 57 video and key inputs, compared with 46 for the 24 Plus! Large-market stations often use more video sources, such as studio cameras or microwave connections from reporters in the field, and key layers for their newscasts, and the CR4000 can handle the increased load. In addition, the CR4000 includes 48 channels of audio, as does the 24 Plus!, but it has additional features for compression, expansion and delay-features that are options on the 24 Plus!
The cost of the system ranges from $460,000 to $870,000, depending on the configuration.
While ParkerVision has been the primary company handling the automation of live news production, Harris Corp. plans to introduce a system at NAB that will also handle many of the same functions.
The Air News system, which costs about $250,000, is modular and designed to be scalable for large, medium and small markets, said Brian Lay, director of product marketing for Harris Automation Solutions, a division of the broadcast unit of Harris Corp. Unlike ParkerVision’s systems, which come with video equipment such as switchers and video keyers, Air News is designed to work with a station’s existing legacy equipment, Mr. Lay said.
In addition, the system is geared more toward stations that have made the investment in video servers since it emphasizes video server output and graphics, he said. CLTV in Chicago is using the system, Mr. Lay said.
KMGH plans to have the ParkerVision system running by June and managing all 30 hours of its news by the end of the year, said Cindy Velasquez, VP and general manager for the station.
Medium-market stations have been successful in realizing operating efficiencies with 24 Plus! WAWS-TV and WTEV-TV in Jacksonville, Fla., installed a 24 Plus! PVTV system last fall, and the Fox/UPN duopoly was able to expand its 4 p.m. newscast to an hour and eliminate about nine part-time technical positions, said Susan Adams Loyd, VP and general manager for WAWS and WTEV.