Product Spotlight: CNN Local Connect

Sep 23, 2002  •  Post A Comment

What it is: CNN Local Connect, a fiber-optic and satellite network that connects CNN’s affiliates to each other and to CNN.
What it does: CNN Local Connect, which was installed by CNN at no cost to its 685 Newsource partner stations, is the first step in the video collection process. “It is the primary source we use for the transmission of news,” said Frank Barnett, VP, CNN Newsbeam, a division of CNN Newsource. “These are CNN-installed fiber and uplinks installed at our cost so we can guarantee the ability to get news out and to and from our affiliates.” CNN Local Connect allows stations to feed to each other and to CNN. CNN Local Connect serves as the video news backhaul. Once the news is collected, then CNN Newsource feeds that back out to its affiliates through the Pathfire digital delivery system. The system serves the needs of the network and its affiliates. “Because CNN recognizes local affiliates’ desire for regional news, we pull that down and perhaps CNN doesn’t want a story on a homicide in Columbia, S.C., but maybe Savannah, Ga., does, so we make it available to our regional affiliates,” Mr. Barnett said.
The Heart of the Network: CNN Local Connect is made up of fiber from Vvyx and AT&T since those companies have installed terrestrial fiber-optic networks in 60 markets around the country. In those 60 markets, CNN has connected its affiliates to the network. Outside of those fibered markets, CNN relies on a digital satellite uplink system.
How it works: Before the implementation of CNN Local Connect, the news network used existing transmission paths such as fixed uplinks at stations, fiber-optic loops and satellite trucks. “When news breaks it is a game of speed to see who can dial the phone first to book time,” he said. Having its own network guarantees CNN the ability to obtain pictures from affiliates to air on CNN and on other affiliates, Mr. Barnett said. For instance, during the coverage of the mailbox bombings in the spring, CNN relied on Local Connect to obtain pictures from such locations as Des Moines, Iowa, and Amarillo, Texas, where it didn’t have guaranteed transmission in the past. “We might not have gotten at all without this,” he said.