Broadcast Industry News

Broadcasting & Cable

Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King have been tapped as co-moderators of the CBS News-hosted Democratic presidential candidate debate Feb. 25 in Charleston, S.C.  South Carolina holds its primary Feb. 29.  Joining King and O'Donnell will be Face ...

O'Donnell, King will co-host

Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King have been tapped as co-moderators of the CBS News-hosted Democratic presidential candidate debate Feb. 25 in Charleston, S.C. 

South Carolina holds its primary Feb. 29. 

Joining King and O'Donnell will be Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan, chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker.  

The debate is sanctioned and coordinated with the Democratic National Committee. 

CBSN, the networks 24/7 news streaming site, will live stream the debate as well as post-debate coverage. That stream will also be on twitter at @CBSnews. 

CBS will also air the debate live on co-owned BET, its African American-targeted cable net. The South Carolina primary is expected to be a test of the various candidates' strength with African American voters. 

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 19, 2020, 10:32 pm
In a week marked by preemptions due to the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, CBS Television Distribution’s venerable Judge Judy managed to move up 10% to take the syndication lead in the week ended Feb. 9. Judy scored a three-week high 6.5 live plus same day national ...

'Judge Judy' retakes syndication lead with 10% improvement in week ending Feb. 9

In a week marked by preemptions due to the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, CBS Television Distribution’s venerable Judge Judy managed to move up 10% to take the syndication lead in the week ended Feb. 9.

Judge Judy

Judy scored a three-week high 6.5 live plus same day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, which puts the show atop the court genre for the 1,220th straight week.

In fact, four of the six veteran courts managed to gain in a week that included trial coverage on Feb. 3 and 5 and Trump’s acquittal response on Feb. 6, as well as results of the flubbed Iowa caucuses on Feb. 4.

CTD’s Hot Bench, which was conceived of and created by Judge Judy Sheindlin herself, shot up 17% to a 2.1, tying Disney’s Live with Kelly and Ryan as the third-highest rated show in daytime after only Judy and CTD’s talk leader Dr. Phil.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court held steady at a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis moved up 25% to a 1.0, tying its season high. Fox’s Divorce Court stayed at a 0.7. Debmar-Mercury’s Caught in Providence caught up 25% to a 0.5 to tie its season high.

Elsewhere in daytime, talk shows also were mostly higher, and some programs benefited from some heavily preempted days being broken out by Nielsen on some heavily preempted days. Dr. Phil, however, was not one of those and had all five days counted in its average, but still jumped 19% to a 2.5 to lead or tie the lead in talk for the 175th time in the past 179 weeks.

Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil also led with a 1.0.

Live added 5% to a 2.1 and second place in talk. Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres recovered 12% to a third-place 1.9.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which has been making news this week due to some controversial comments by its former radio deejay host, stayed put at a 1.3. NBCUniversal’s long-running Maury motored ahead 9% to a 1.2. CTD’s Rachael Ray, which broke out on all five days in the prior frame, logged a 1.1. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos remained at a 1.0 for a third consecutive week. Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz rebounded 14% to a 0.8. Warner Bros.’ The Real rallied 17% to a 0.7. CTD’s The Doctors delivered a 25% increase to a 0.5. The syndicated version of NBCU’s out-of-production Jerry Springer stood pat at a 0.4 for the fourth straight week.

Among the rookies, NBCU’s renewed Kelly Clarkson returned to a 1.3 after seeing all five days were broken out for preemptions in the prior week. Disney’s Tamron Hall, which also is coming back for season two, held firm at a 0.9. SPT’s Mel Robbins, which will not return next season, gained 25% to a 0.5.

NBCU’s Judge Jerry, renewed for its sophomore year, stayed in reruns for the week but held steady at a 0.9 in households and spiked 33% among women 25-54 to a 0.4.

In other rookie venues, MGM/Orion’s Personal Injury Court climbed 20% to a 0.6, while Trifecta’s Protection Court remained at a 0.3.

Fox’s 25 Words or Less, which will be back for season two, logged a 1.0 for the third straight week, while SPT’s off-GSN America Says strengthened 14% to a new season-high 0.8.

In access, magazines were all steady to higher, despite preemptions for the State of the Union address on Feb. 4, and ABC’s coverage of the Democratic Primary Presidential Debate on Feb. 7. Many of the entertainment magazines benefited from coverage of the run-up to the 92nd annual Academy Awards on Feb. 9.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight led the category for the fifth straight week with a 3% advance to a 3.0, matching its season high. CTD’s Inside Edition tacked on 4% to a 2.8. NBCU’s Access Hollywood held steady at a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ TMZ added 9% to a 1.2, equalling its season high. Warner Bros.’ Extra stood pat at its season-high 1.0. CTD’s DailyMailTV held its ground at a 0.7. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page turned up a 0.2 for the 32nd consecutive week.

Elsewhere, the top games were little changed. CTD’s Jeopardy! jumped 2% to a 6.4, while its sibling, CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, also rolled ahead 2% to a 6.3. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was flat at a 6.1.

Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask responded with a 25% recovery to a 0.5.

Disney’s internet video show RightThisMinute mustered a 0.8 for a second straight week.

NBCU’s off-net crime strip Dateline darted ahead 20% to a 1.2 to lead the crime genre. SPT’s Off-A&E Live PD Police Patrol was in close pursuit with a steady 1.0. NBCU’s scripted procedural Chicago PD collared a 0.8 for the fifth consecutive week.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory heated up 3% to lead the off-net sitcoms at a 3.4. Disney’s Last Man Standing stood pat at a 2.1. Disney’s Modern Family spurted 14% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men sprinted ahead 17% to a 1.4. SPT’s The Goldbergs garnered an 8% increase to a 1.3. Disney’s Family Guy grew 9% to a 1.2. Warner Bros.’ Mom mushroomed 25% to a 1.0, tying Disney’s Black-ish, which broke even, and SPT’s Seinfeld and Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, both of which added 11%.

Author: Paige Albiniak
Posted: February 19, 2020, 8:08 pm
Fuse Media is teaming up with song lyric-based digital media company Genius on a new TV series that will premiere March 18. The series, Genius x Fuse, will bring Genius’ artist-centric content, including Verified, Deconstructed and For the Record with Rob Markman to linear TV. “Partnering with ...

‘Genius x Fuse’ to premiere March 18

Fuse Media is teaming up with song lyric-based digital media company Genius on a new TV series that will premiere March 18.

The series, Genius x Fuse, will bring Genius’ artist-centric content, including Verified, Deconstructed and For the Record with Rob Markman to linear TV.

 2 Chainz with Rob Markman

“Partnering with such a credible resonating brand like Genius allows us to continue to expand our music culture-based content offerings to our growing young audience in an impactful way,” said J-T Ladt, chief content officer for Fuse Media.

In the first episode, Alicia Keys breaks down the meaning of her latest hit Underdog on Verified, 2 Chainz discusses his new label T.R.U. with Rob Markman on For the Record and producer Hit-Boy describes how Kendrick Lamar’s Backseat Freestyle was made on Deconstructed.

“Genius champions artists who are shaping today’s music culture, and our digital content spotlighting their craft and creativity resonates intensely with our online audience. We’re thrilled to partner with Fuse to bring these lyrical deep-dives to linear television, where they can reach an even broader audience of true music fans,” said Joshua Asen, Genius’s head of TV & film.

The series is part of Fuse’s strategy of finding digital content and developing into TV programming. Earlier the network turned YouTube’s Made from Scratch into a series. It also works with Complex’s digital network on Complex X Fuse.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 8:00 pm
Redbox, the company known for those ubiquitous DVD rental kiosks situated outside 7-11 stores, super markets and other retail locations, is throwing its hat into the crowded ad-supported, free-to-consumer streaming arena. Launching Tuesday, Redbox Free Live TV isn’t so much an “AVOD” platform in ...

With the DVD rental kiosk business cratering nearly 20% last year, company gives ad-supported OTT a shot Redbox Free Live TV

Redbox, the company known for those ubiquitous DVD rental kiosks situated outside 7-11 stores, super markets and other retail locations, is throwing its hat into the crowded ad-supported, free-to-consumer streaming arena.

Launching Tuesday, Redbox Free Live TV isn’t so much an “AVOD” platform in that its channels are live and linear, much like those of ViacomCBS’ ad-supported Pluto TV. Only a portion of the content is on-demand, with the bulk of it presented through channels, like traditional TV, but streamed.

There are three Redbox-branded channels: Redbox Comedy, Redbox Rush and Redbox Spotlight, each packaging movies and TV shows, with Rush themed around action-adventure genre titles and Spotlight including a curated selection. Titles originate from a range of studio partners, Redbox said, but a lot of them come from Lionsgate, which is described in Redbox’s press release a “key strategic launch partner for programming content.”

For more stories like this, visit our sister publication Next TV.

Third party channels include Unsolved Mysteries, Forensic Files, USA Today, NowThis, Dove Channel, American Classics, Comedy Dynamics, Maverick Movies, Filmhub, Fail Army and People are Awesome.

Owned by Outerwall, Redbox controls the bulk of a DVD rental kiosk business that saw a nearly 20% revenue decline to around $207 million in 2019, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

For a company with an established brand and ties to major studios, transitioning to an ad-supported model would seem to make sense. It’s a crowded market these days, with Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDB TV, Pluto TV and Tubi, just to name a few free-to-consumer streaming platforms, fighting for audience share and ad dollars. But with Tubi among those consistently reporting recent growth, it’s certainly not a saturated market.

“Redbox has built one of the most trusted brands in entertainment by consistently delivering value, choice and convenience to our millions of customers,” said Galen Smith, Redbox CEO, in a statement. “We are expanding our reach to the masses by providing every U.S. consumer access to entertainment – whether that’s at one of our more than 41,000 kiosks, streaming On Demand or streaming Free Live TV.”

Notably, it's not the first time Redbox has tried to pivot into streaming, however. In 2012, it partnered with the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier to launched subscription streaming platform Redbox Instant by Verizon, but the service was out of the market by 2014. 

Author: Daniel Frankel
Posted: February 19, 2020, 6:27 pm
LAS VEGAS – NCTC WINTER EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCE – FEBRUARY 19, 2020 — Imagine Communications, which provides open, end-to-end advertising technology solutions for broadcasters, content owners, MVPDs and vMVPDs, today announced an agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to ...

Strike next-gen ad insertion agreement to simplify the deployment of advanced ad delivery capabilities via new AdKey service

LAS VEGAS – NCTC WINTER EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCE – FEBRUARY 19, 2020 — Imagine Communications, which provides open, end-to-end advertising technology solutions for broadcasters, content owners, MVPDs and vMVPDs, today announced an agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to power AdKey, a cloud-based, platform-agnostic service that supports ad insertion on all IP-based video streams. The deal will initially see the deployment of cloud-based ad monetization technology from Imagine Communications by independent operators by Q3 of this year with trials beginning in the coming months. NCTC represents more than 750 independent cable operators in the United States and negotiates master licensing agreements with content providers for over 200 networks.

“AdKey is focused on helping our independent operators preserve existing ad revenue streams based on legacy infrastructure while clearing a path to video monetization on connected devices without requiring high upfront costs or investments in new gear,” said Rich Fickle, President of NCTC. “Imagine’s ad tech is proven globally and the company’s embedded status with all of our critical advertising partners will help our members accelerate the shift to next-generation IP distribution for reduced set-top-box costs, increased consumer satisfaction and new opportunities for advertisers to connect with viewers.”

As independent cable operators transition to IP-based operations, they want to maintain the lucrative sales infrastructure and revenues they’ve built around their most popular channel offerings. AdKey unlocks this opportunity by seamlessly mirroring everything being done on legacy infrastructures in IP-based offerings that will eventually serve as their primary video delivery service, available on a range of popular connected devices and platforms. It also provides a simple solution for selling inventory on the hundreds of additional channels operators are not monetizing today via compatibility with an expanding ecosystem of partners from across the advertising value chain.

“Often, the most limiting factor preventing operators from deploying a new service is the inability to build a solid business case to support it,” said Chris Gordon, VP of Product Marketing for Imagine Communications. “Imagine shifts this familiar dynamic by removing the traditional upfront costs and ongoing support typically required to deliver a world-class video service. We look forward to helping open new possibilities for NCTC members while eliminating so many of the hurdles that can prevent independent operators from being able to upgrade to the latest tech platforms."

Video distributors use Imagine’s cloud-based ad monetization technology to support ad insertion for linear services with hosting, management, monitoring and updates all provided by Imagine. The previously announced solution eliminates complexities associated with video providers’ on-premises ad systems, including support for multiple ADS vendors, client players and video formats, as well as the need to dynamically scale for peak demand. Imagine’s ad technology is pre-integrated with SpotX and other popular supply-side platforms to provide access to programmatic exchanges of choice and campaign fulfillment, helping local operators more easily fill local inventory.

For more information, visit https://www.imaginecommunications.com/ott-monetization-service

Author: Paul Schneider
Posted: February 19, 2020, 6:17 pm
The FCC is seeking comment on three issues related to its Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order, issues the court remanded back to it for further action. One commissioner is already weighing in with advice on how to register those comments. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld ...

Rosenworcel calls on opponents of net neutrality rule dereg to make some noise

The FCC is seeking comment on three issues related to its Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order, issues the court remanded back to it for further action. One commissioner is already weighing in with advice on how to register those comments.

FCC commissoner Jessica Rosenworcel

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the bulk of the agency's decision to reclassify ISPs as Title I information service providers that aren’t subject to Title II common-carrier regulations and to eliminate the rules against blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and a general conduct rule. But the court said the FCC needed to better explain the impact of those decisions on public safety, the regulation of pole attachments, and its Lifeline broadband/phone subsidy program.

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau is seeking comment on just what action it should take in response to the court remand, and has given commenters until March 30 and reply comments until April 29 to be filed.

That comes after the D.C. court earlier this month denied all requests for a full-court rehearing of the three-judge RIF ruling, clearing the way for the FCC to issue its request for input on the court's ruling.

Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the RIF order, had some comments on the request for comments.

“The FCC got it wrong when it repealed net neutrality. The decision put the agency on the wrong side of history, the American public, and the law,” she said. “And the courts agreed. That’s why they sent back to this agency key pieces regarding how the rollback of net neutrality protections impacted public safety, low-income Americans and broadband infrastructure.

“Today, the FCC is seeking comment on how best to move forward,“ she added. “My advice? The American public should raise their voices and let Washington know how important an open internet is for every piece of our civic and commercial lives. The agency wrongfully gave broadband providers the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content [which the court did not say was on the wrong side of the law] The fight for an open internet is not over. It’s time to make noise.”

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:42 pm
NBC got the top ratings spot on Tuesday earning a 1.0 and a 5 share, in adults 18-49. CBS came in second earning a 0.9. NBC had Ellen's Game of Games which stayed the same at a 0.9. This Is Us went down to a 1.3 from last week. New Amsterdam also stayed at a 0.6. NCIS went up ...

'NCIS' does well for CBS

NBC got the top ratings spot on Tuesday earning a 1.0 and a 5 share, in adults 18-49. CBS came in second earning a 0.9.

NBC had Ellen's Game of Games which stayed the same at a 0.9. This Is Us went down to a 1.3 from last week. New Amsterdam also stayed at a 0.6.

NCIS went up a tenth of a point to a 1.1. FBI earned a 0.9 and FBI: Most Wanted earned a 0.7.

ABC earned a 0.7 and a 3 share on the night. The Conners stayed at a 1.1 from last week, followed by Bless This Mess which fell back a tenth to a 0.6. Mixed-ish and Black-ish both earned a 0.5, down from last week. For Life earned a 0.6, down 25% from its premiere the week before.

Fox rated a 0.6/3. The Resident earned a 0.7 after being off for a week. Gordon Ramsey's 24 Hours To Hell And Back earned a 0.6, the same as last week.

Univision earned a 0.5/3. Ringo, Amor Eterno and Rubi all stayed a 0.5.

Telemundo and The CW rated a 0.3/2. The Flash stayed at a 0.3. DC: Legends of Tomorrow rated a 0.2.

Author: Chelsea Anderson
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:11 pm
The National Association of Broadcasters said the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas is still "all systems go" for April 18-22 amid international travel concerns.  The association put out an announcement (below) in response to questions from attendees and exhibitors in light of the cancellation of ...

Trade group says it is taking all precautions to protect attendees

The National Association of Broadcasters said the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas is still "all systems go" for April 18-22 amid international travel concerns. 

The association put out an announcement (below) in response to questions from attendees and exhibitors in light of the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona last week due to the coronavirus. 

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said the show is absolutely still on and, in fact, had one of its best sales weeks last week in terms of floor exhibition space. 

He said they are taking "all precautions" to ensure the safety of attendees. Wharton said attendance is tracking on par with last year. 

Below is the announcement NAB made to reassure attendees: 

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), organizer of NAB Show, affirmed the 2020 NAB Show is set to take place as planned, April 18 – 22 in Las Vegas. The association is closely monitoring COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, and is prepared to devote whatever resources necessary to ensure a safe and productive NAB Show experience. 

NAB Show is the premier event driving the evolution of media and entertainment. It is an engine for commerce and a critical launchpad for products and services expected to revolutionize the business. The convention’s 1,600 exhibitors and 90,000 attendees rely on the annual NAB Show to raise their profile and meet business goals. 

While the NAB stands firm in its commitment to hold the convention as planned, the health and safety of attendees and participants are NAB’s top priority. To that end, NAB is dedicated to providing rapid responses and assistance in support of the global NAB Show community’s participation plans. The event management team has launched a COVID-19 resource page on the NAB Show website, where updates will be provided. 

Currently, NAB is: 

1. Adhering to all guidance and recommended safety measures issued by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local health organizations. 

2. Working with the Las Vegas Convention Center, the airport authority, and area hotels and resorts to coordinate appropriate safety procedures.

3. Following CDC recommendations and protocols for heightened levels of cleanliness at event facilities.

4. Making accommodations and actively encouraging attendees to take common-sense precautions and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of illness.

5. Ensuring medical care is readily accessible to address immediate health concerns.

6. Working with China-based exhibitors and registered attendees to evaluate options for those unable to attend due to travel restrictions. Of note, NAB Show attendance from China, although growing, represented less than 2 percent of total registered attendees in 2019.

NAB is taking COVID-19 very seriously and is fully invested and prepared to host a successful NAB Show in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas is maintaining rigorous cleanliness and safety standards throughout public spaces, resorts and meeting facilities, and hosts successful trade events daily. Meanwhile, NAB Show has experienced an uptick in exhibit sales, attendee registration and hotel bookings in recent weeks, and conference program speakers are confirmed daily.

For more information about NAB Show’s COVID-19 preparedness and updates, visit nabshow.com/coronavirus. 

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:10 pm
Univision said it added Dolby, State Farm, Universal Pictures and the U.S. Census Bureau as sponsors of its music awards show Premio Lo Nuestro, presented by T-Mobile. T-Mobile had been the presenting sponsor eight times. Premio Lo Nuestro will be broadcast live Thursday from the American Airlines ...

Univision award show presented by T-Mobile for 8th year

Univision said it added Dolby, State Farm, Universal Pictures and the U.S. Census Bureau as sponsors of its music awards show Premio Lo Nuestro, presented by T-Mobile.

T-Mobile had been the presenting sponsor eight times.

Premio Lo Nuestro will be broadcast live Thursday from the American Airlines Arena in Miami, preceded by red carpet coverage during Noche de Estrellas.

“No one does big, live events better than Univision,” said Steve Mandala, president of Advertising Sales and Marketing, Univision Communications Inc. “And with music being a passion point for our audience, platforms like Premio Lo Nuestro provide a unique opportunity for our sponsors to engage our viewers with dynamic, best-in-class integrations that stand out during the star-studded telecast. We want to thank our sponsors who each year help make Premio Lo Nuestro a success and are excited to kick-off the decade with the very first awards show that recognizes Latin music.”

Many of the sponsors will have special integrations and custom content during and around the awards broadcast.

For example, to highlight T-Mobile’s 5G network, it will show fans how it played a role in CNCO and Manuel Turizo collaborating in a performance. It will also give fans behind-the-scenes content via social media. The red carpet for the event will be magenta--T-Mobile hue.

Dolby is delivering a J Balvin two-day immersive experience at the Brickell City Centre in Miami to show how Dolby’s Atmos technology is creating the future of music.

Sebastian Yatra will star in a custom vignette for State Farm that will show people how he was influenced by the Miami community.

J Balvin, a star of Trolls World Tour, will be featured in a teaser for the film from Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation. Animated trolls will take over center stage during the show to dance to J Balvin’s hit Mi Gente.

Beginning on the red carpet, Prince Royce will help deliver the Census Bureau’s message about the importance of being counted.

Last year, Premio Lo Nuestro powered Univision to be the the top rated broadcast network among adults 18 to 34 for the entire night.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:00 pm
MRC Television is developing a new series starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd based on the popular podcast The Shrink Next Door. The limited series is a dark comedy that follows the relationship between a psychiatrist to the stars, played by Rudd, and his longtime patient, played by Ferrell. The ...

Show based on popular podcast

MRC Television is developing a new series starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd based on the popular podcast The Shrink Next Door.

Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd

The limited series is a dark comedy that follows the relationship between a psychiatrist to the stars, played by Rudd, and his longtime patient, played by Ferrell. The patient looks at how a doctor-patient relationship can go sideways as the patient slowly takes over the psychiatrist’s life, home and family business.

Ferrell and Rudd appeared together in the film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

The series will be directed by Michael Showalter and written by Georgia Pritchett.

The podcast The Shrink Next Door is published by Wondery and distributed via Bloomberg Media.

Will Ferrell with Jessica Elbaum

Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum and Brittney Segal will executive produce for Ferrel’s Gloria Sanchez Productions. Rudd and Pritchett will also serve as executive producers. Showalter and Jordana Mollick will executive produce on behalf of their Semi-Formal Productions. Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy for Wondery and Jared Sandberg, Katie Boyce, and Francesca Levy for Bloomberg Media will serve as executive producers, with Joe Nocera as co-executive producer.

The Shrink Next Door is a Civic Center Media project in association with MRC Television.

Rudd is represented by Lighthouse Management & Media, UTA and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:00 pm
PARIS & LILLE, FRANCE – February 19, 2020 – At press conferences held today in Lille and Paris, Ms. Laurence Herszberg, founder and general director of Series Mania, announced the 15 projects selected to be pitched during the Co-Pro Pitching Sessions which have become the cornerstone of the ...

PARIS & LILLE, FRANCE – February 19, 2020 – At press conferences held today in Lille and Paris, Ms. Laurence Herszberg, founder and general director of Series Mania, announced the 15 projects selected to be pitched during the Co-Pro Pitching Sessions which have become the cornerstone of the Series Mania Forum, the industry arm of Series Mania. Having received over 400 projects from 50 different countries, the goal of Series Mania Forum is to help these high-end European and International drama projects find potential financial partners. Ms. Herszberg also announced that eOne’s Polly Williams, Head of Drama, Scripted Television – UK, has been selected as Jury President and will oversee a team of four other members, to be announced shortly, who will determine the best project among the 15 pitched and award a grand prize of €50,000 to help develop the winning show.

The following list of selected projects will be pitched by their producers to a panel of potential financiers:

Co-Pro Pitching Sessions – Official Selection (Eligible for Best project prize):

· A Marriage, Indigo Film, Italy

· Casa Girls, The Film TV, France

· Doppelgänger, AVI FILMS, Spain/Argentina

· Frozen Land, Non-Stop Production, Russia

· Good People, Hélicotronc, Belgium

· Life and Fate, Cosmopolitan Pictures, United Kingdom

· My First Family, Haut et Court TV, France/Israel

· Play of Mirrors, Velázquez in Rome, Vertice 360, Spain

· Submarine, The Mediapro Studio & Globo, Spain/Brazil

· Tahrir, Artza Productions, Israel

· The Abduction of Yossele Shumacher, Eran Riklis Productions, Israel

· The Black Lady, AT-Production, France/Germany/Belgium

· The Island, Producers At Work, Germany

· Turbo, Sense Production, Serbia

· Underground, Anagram Norway, Norway

And a 16 title, out of competition, in partnership with CoPro Series of Berlinale Series Market and Conference, will be announced shortly.

"At the heart of the Series Mania Forum, the Co-Pro Pitching Sessions continues to be the springboard for finding the best projects in development from around the world. “With over 400 submissions this year, for the first year from all over the world, I can say that it was not an easy task to narrow the search to the top 15 series. With projects from Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Russia, as well as all the projects from Europe and Israel, our selection is more international than ever before. We are pleased to be offering a series from Serbia as the Balkan region definitely appears to be an up-and-coming creative hot spot,” commented Ms. Herszberg. 

For more information on SERIES MANIA FORUM program, please go to:

https://seriesmania.com/forum

ABOUT POLLY WILLIAMS

As eOne’s UK-based Head of Scripted TV, Polly Williams currently focuses on curating a slate of distinctive, original, commercial high-end television drama with global appeal. Polly works closely with top independent producers in the UK and Europe such as Bad Wolf, Eleven Films and Sid Gentle. She has instigated first look deals with Mam Tor/Tally Gardner and King Bee Productions, run by Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola. Polly is currently prepping for a new BBC show eOne will co-produce with Eleven Film called RED ROSE penned by The Clarkson Twins and she has a greenlit ITV thriller called TENACITY which she is co-producing with Bad Wolf. She is also heading up development of an adaptation of A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW for Apple in the US and has a range of projects in advanced development with broadcasters in the UK, Europe and US. Polly is also developing some high profile projects internally including an adaptation of Ann Patchett’s novel, STATE OF WONDER with Philippa Goslett and Will Oldroyd, a TV adaptation of WHITE MISCHIEF with Sid Gentle and Stephen Beresford and a darkly funny comedy by Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer called PLEASE BE FRANK. Polly is an experienced drama producer and she has worked at BBC, Carnival Films and Kudos where she produced shows like LIP SERVICE, HOTEL BABYLON, SECRET SMILE and HOLBY CITY. She began her career as a script editor and development producer.

ABOUT SERIES MANIA 

Created by Laurence Herszberg in 2010 in collaboration with artistic director Frederic Lavigne while both were at the Forum des images, the Series Mania Festival brings the best international series to the big screen and offers audiences (over 72,000 spectators in 2019) the rare opportunity to meet and learn from renowned showrunners, directors and television talent. Series Mania has developed into a unique event with wide recognition that is entirely dedicated to series, aimed at both the general public and industry professionals. For the 2020 edition, from March 20-28, the Festival will once again be held in the charming northern French city of Lille (Hauts-de-France). As usual, it will include a program of world premieres and series selected for competition, overseen by a prestigious international jury.

ABOUT SERIES MANIA FORUM

Launched in 2013, Series Mania Forum, the industry arm of the Series Mania Festival, has become the place to be for all those involved in the creation of series from around the world. In just a few years, Series Mania Forum has already seen many projects come to fruition, including Eden, Stella Blomkvist, Keeping Faith and Tabula Rasa, with many others currently in production. In 2019, the Forum held its second edition of Lille Transatlantic Dialogues, a one-day summit bringing together high-level political, corporate, creative and economic players from the TV and culture sectors in Europe and North America. With more than 3,000 registered professionals expected in 2020, the Forum (March 25-27) is now the place where industry talent and decision-makers meet to create the new generation of serial fiction.

Author: Sheila Morris
Posted: February 19, 2020, 4:52 pm
Eatontown, New Jersey (February 18, 2020) - Yorktel, a leading provider of collaboration and managed service solutions for enterprise, public sector, education and healthcare customers worldwide — announced today that it will be acquiring the business assets of Video Corporation of America (VCA), a ...

Eatontown, New Jersey (February 18, 2020) - Yorktel, a leading provider of collaboration and managed service solutions for enterprise, public sector, education and healthcare customers worldwide — announced today that it will be acquiring the business assets of Video Corporation of America (VCA), a New Jersey-based provider of audio video integration, digital signage, and unified communications solutions and services.

"With very little overlap in our respective customer portfolios, the team at VCA brings extensive experience in audio and video systems integration that will enhance Yorktel’s existing capabilities, including engineering, fabrication, field resources, digital signage, and help desk support,” said Ken Scaturro, President and COO, Yorktel. “In turn, the VCA customers will now be able to receive a broader suite of services, including managed conferencing services to include monitoring and alarming, media services and a full suite of staff augmentation skill sets. They can also benefit from Yorktel’s robust Microsoft and Cisco practices,” Scaturro added.

Founded in 1972, VCA has had a long and successful history providing Audio Visual, Post-Production and Broadcast, Digital Signage, and Unified Communications solutions and support services for some of the most prestigious organizations in the world. The company has a 25,000 square foot fabrication facility in the greater New York City area that Yorktel will now be able to leverage for its expanding customer demand.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to bring the team at VCA over to Yorktel,” commented Dave Berlin, President, VCA. “Both our companies share the same values, long history, and commitment to customer success. I am proud to be able to bring VCA’s legacy of technical innovation, deep domain expertise and strong customer relationships to Yorktel.”

About Yorktel

For over 35 years, Yorktel (www.yorktel.com) has been a leader in helping enterprise, healthcare, education and public sector customers plan, navigate and successfully execute their digital workplace transformation initiatives. Our global team works with yours to ensure all aspects of these initiatives, including systems evaluations, network preparedness, technology assessments, change management planning, device and network management and monitoring have been addressed. We then design, integrate and manage the communication and collaboration solutions that enable your connected workforce. Follow Yorktel on Twitter: @yorktelcorp.

Author: Hummingbird Media, Inc.
Posted: February 19, 2020, 4:44 pm
LILLE & PARIS, FRANCE – February 19, 2020 – At press conferences today in Lille and Paris, Series Mania unveiled details for its upcoming Series Mania Festival set for March 20-28 in Lille, France. Details for the Series Mania Forum, the industry arm of Series Mania, were also announced with ...

LILLE & PARIS, FRANCE – February 19, 2020 – At press conferences today in Lille and Paris, Series Mania unveiled details for its upcoming Series Mania Festival set for March 20-28 in Lille, France. Details for the Series Mania Forum, the industry arm of Series Mania, were also announced with additional details forthcoming on February 25.

With 74 brand new series, 38 world premieres, 483 series screened from 54 territories, prestigious guest stars, a symphonic concert, and plenty of events, Series Mania is this year offering nine days of culture and celebration across Lille, the wider metropolitan area, and the region as a whole. Additional details outlined by Rodolphe Belmer, President of Series Mania, and Laurence Herszberg, Managing Director include:

The International Jury

Tom Perrotta - Jury President

Nir Bergman

Rachel Griffiths

Caroline Proust

Veena Sud

Karine Tuil

Guests of Honor 

Chris Brancato

Giancarlo Esposito

Hagai Levi

Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

Team from The Eddy

Team from The Bureau

Carole Bouquet

Zabou Breitman

Tomer Sisley

Olivier Marchal

International Competition

Adult Material (UK)

Cry Wolf (Denmark)

Dérapages (France)

Little Birds (UK)

Moloch (France, Belgium)

No Man’s Land (France, Israel, Belgium)

Patria (Spain)

El Presidente (Chile)

Unorthodox (Germany)

Valley of Tears (Israel)

French Competition

Cheyenne Et Lola (Belgium)

La Garçonne (France)

Ils Étaient Dix (France)

Moah (Françe)

Parlement (France)

Romance (France)

International Panorama

22 July (Norway)

Behind The Door (Japan)

Buffalo (Australia)

Cold Courage (Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Iceland, UK)

Commandos (Netherlands)

The Cursed (South Korea)

The End (Australia, UK)

La Jauria (Chile)

Lucky Day (Peru)

The Minister (Iceland)

Normal (Israel)

Thin Ice (Sweden, Greenland, Iceland)

Unchained (Israel)

Wara (Niger, Senegal, France)

World on Fire (UK)

Made in USA

Briarpatch (USA Network)

Evil (CBS Television Network, TF1)

Godfather of Harlem (Epix)

Looking for Alaska (Hulu)

The Plot Against America (HBO, OCS)

Snowpiercer (TNT, ITV, Netflix)

Tales From The Loop (Amazon Prime Video)

Why Women Kill (CBS All Access, M6)

Additional portions of Series Mania will include:

Opening & Closing Ceremonies

Special Screenings

Short Form Competition

Midnight Comedies

Audience Award

New Season Premieres

Series Mania Late Nights

Author: Sheila Morris
Posted: February 19, 2020, 4:37 pm
The upcoming election has a lot of people worried about the impact fake and slanted news could have on the outcome. Related: Pew Launches Election News Pathways Project According to new data from Pew Research's Election News Pathways Project, 82% of Americans are either very concerned (48%) or ...

Older, more politically knowledgeable, are more worried, Pew finds

The upcoming election has a lot of people worried about the impact fake and slanted news could have on the outcome.

Related: Pew Launches Election News Pathways Project

According to new data from Pew Research's Election News Pathways Project, 82% of Americans are either very concerned (48%) or "somewhat concerned" (34%) about the impact of "made-up" news.

Those most likely to be very concerned tend to be older and with a greater knowledge of politics. Not surprisingly respondents expected made-up news to be aimed more at their party than the opposition.

The results were based on 12,043 U.S. adults polled from Oct. 29 to Nov. 11, 2019.

The Pathways Project is Pew's effort to explore how American's news habits and attitudes affect their perception of the 2020 election. 

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 19, 2020, 4:29 pm
Cypress, CA, Feb. 19, 2020 – FOR-A Corporation of America today announced PBS39/WLVT‑TV, part of Lehigh Valley Public Media based in Bethlehem, Penn., upgraded its control room last August with a FOR-A HVS-2000 HANABI video production switcher and ClassX broadcast graphics system. The new equipment ...

PBS39/WLVT‑TV upgraded its control room last August with a FOR-A HVS-2000 HANABI video production switcher and ClassX broadcast graphics system.

Cypress, CA, Feb. 19, 2020 – FOR-A Corporation of America today announced PBS39/WLVT‑TV, part of Lehigh Valley Public Media based in Bethlehem, Penn., upgraded its control room last August with a FOR-A HVS-2000 HANABI video production switcher and ClassX broadcast graphics system. The new equipment has improved the on-air look of the station’s original programming as well as its live production workflows.

For example, the HVS-2000 can load and playback graphics from the ClassX, so the TD can access them during live productions. As a result, PBS39’s graphics designer does not have to be in the control room for “routine” productions. “When I saw how well the two integrated together, plus the price, it seemed like an obvious choice,” said Andrea Cummis, chief technology officer.

Part of the station’s multi-year equipment upgrade plan, the HVS-2000 and ClassX replaced aging Grass Valley and Chyron systems. PBS39 equipped the new switcher with 32 inputs (expandable to 48) and a 3 M/E panel with 6 M/E performance, plus 4 MELite™ buses, which transform traditional AUX buses into fully functional M/Es. Cummis praised the switcher’s AUX remote control panels, which are used to feed the set monitors. “That has been very helpful and freed up a lot of our router outputs,” she said.

A “typical” PBS39 studio production is a four-camera shoot, but it is not unusual to have a 10-camera shoot that uses both studio and PTZ cameras. “We do surprisingly big shows here – and with the FOR-A switcher, it’s no problem at all,” Cummis said.

During a particularly busy production night, PBS39 was producing a program at a nearby venue while shooting a live event in its studio. The HVS-2000 was also able to receive the feed from the external shoot with embedded audio, add a station bug to the program feed, and output the branded content with the embedded audio for recording – without interrupting the studio production. “Being able to pass embedded audio was one feature that didn’t seem important when we got it,” Cummis added, “but it totally saved our night for us.”

PBS39 produces more than two dozen shows every month, including episodes of the nationally syndicated series You Bet Your Garden, as well as Scholastic Scrimmage, a long-running local high school academic quiz show. As part of the Philadelphia market (DMA #4) serving eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, the station also hosts live “town hall” meetings on a variety of topics. Every series gets its own distinct graphics, and Cummis said the ClassX has allowed the station’s graphic designer to be more creative.

The ClassX also supports the use of RSS feeds for updating election results and other data in graphics, a feature that was not supported by the station’s older graphics system. Cummis said the system “worked great” for local primary election coverage last year, but she is looking forward to using the system to its full potential for Election Night in November.

“This is really important. We’re going to have people everywhere,” Cummis explained. “Our election coverage is going to be way better with the new switcher and the ClassX.”

FOR-A is the exclusive distributor of ClassX in North, Central, and South America. The agreement provides broadcasters and live event producers with the ability to create and play out ClassX real-time broadcast graphics integrated with FOR-A video switchers.

About Lehigh Valley Public Media™
Lehigh Valley Public Media™, home of PBS39/WLVT, WLVR, and WPPT, acts as the catalyst to promote civic engagement, and to fulfill the regional needs of the Greater Lehigh Valley, through its dynamic communication platforms and resources. The Reporter Corps® creates community-focused content for PBS39 News Tonight, digital platforms, and WLVR. Lehigh Valley Public Media and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley are partnering to fund and fulfill the regional literacy initiative Lehigh Valley Reads. This campaign is working to ensure all Lehigh Valley students read on grade level by the end of third grade by 2025. Lehigh Valley Public Media is a community-owned public media organization serving eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Lehigh Valley Public Media is licensed in Allentown to the Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation. For more information, visit PBS39.org.

About FOR-A
FOR-A, a worldwide, industry-leading manufacturer, offers a wide range of broadcast and production products with a focus on cutting-edge technologies, including: HD, 4K and IP products. FOR-A continues to offer future-ready, cost effective, advanced technology solutions. Products include: video switchers, routing switchers, multi-viewers, full 4K high-speed cameras, IP encoders/decoders, multi-channel signal processors, 8K/4K/HD test signal generators, color correctors, frame synchronizers, file-based products, character generators, video servers and much more.

For a full range of HD and 4K production and processing solutions, as well as IP-based products, visit our web site at www.for-a.com.

Author: Wire Contributor
Posted: February 19, 2020, 3:27 pm
HOUSTON, FEBRUARY 19, 2020 — When Jason Martin, coms A1, and Dave Cheramie, coms A2, were tasked with integrating a new, modern intercom system for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Stadium, the duo found a solution to meet all of their production needs with Pliant Technologies’ CrewCom ...

HOUSTON, FEBRUARY 19, 2020 — When Jason Martin, coms A1, and Dave Cheramie, coms A2, were tasked with integrating a new, modern intercom system for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Stadium, the duo found a solution to meet all of their production needs with Pliant Technologies’ CrewCom wireless intercom system. For the massive 125,000-square-foot stadium, it was crucial for Martin and Cheramie to deploy a coms system that could provide dependable wireless communication and extensive range throughout the three-week long event, which is streamed live to FOX.

“When searching for a coms system for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, no other solution compared to CrewCom,” adds Martin. “It was a no-brainer to deploy the Pliant system as other systems we tested failed to perform in the large stadium with its high, domed ceiling. The competing systems also presented multipath interference issues, so they couldn’t provide the range we require for this large-scale event—only CrewCom could handle the job.”

For the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Martin and Cheramie deploy a combination of 27 two-channel and four-channel Radio Packs (RPs), 14 transceivers, two copper hubs and three fiber paths to provide a reliable and extensive coverage zone. Additionally, they utilized two four-channel bases in a primary-secondary configuration with a total of 10 party lines (eight four-wire and two two-wire). For the upcoming 2020 season, which will take place from March 3 to 22, Martin and Cheramie will integrate Pliant’s CrewCom 8-Port Fiber Hub—expanding the system’s capabilities and allowing for additional coverage zones via fiber optic connections.

“The integration of CrewCom has allowed us to expand our coverage zone greatly,” adds Martin. “Compared to our previous intercom system, we were able to use four additional radio packs and one additional party line thanks to the flexibility of CrewCom. Now, with the addition of Pliant’s CrewCom Fiber Hub, we have the ability to grow the system out even further to reach places via fiber optics that cannot be reached via copper. The addition of the fiber hub is a big deal—it allows us to easily put transceivers anywhere we need them.”

For Martin, the 900MHz CrewCom wireless intercom system provides a longer wavelength compared to their previous coms system, eliminating challenges with competing frequencies. “At NRG Stadium, we often have over 50,000 people connected to Wi-Fi, and it’s extremely beneficial that the 900MHz frequency doesn’t conflict with the signal,” adds Martin. “The 900MHz CrewCom gives us the ability to cut through corners and concrete, greatly expanding our range.”

With a multitude of staff members utilizing the CrewCom system, including audio engineers, camera operators, stage managers, producers, executives, scoring, and stock contractors, it was essential for Martin to integrate a system with a simple interface. “Not only is the system easy to operate, but it’s also easily explainable—which helps me a great deal when deploying such a large system with so many users.”

With his success at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Martin has become a fan of Pliant and hopes to expand his inventory with additional solutions from the brand in the future. “As a freelancer mixing audio for sports and entertainment, my primary emphasis is to rent wireless equipment to broadcasters and corporate clients for large-form events, so my equipment has to be top of the line,” adds Martin. “Once I found Pliant, I knew there was no turning back. I am hoping to add the 2.4GHz CrewCom system to my inventory as well.”

More information about Pliant Technologies is available at www.plianttechnologies.com.

About Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ promotes agriculture by hosting an annual, family-friendly experience that educates and entertains the public, supports Texas youth, showcases Western heritage and provides year-round educational support within the community. Since its beginning in 1932, the Rodeo has committed more than $500 million to Texas youth and education.

About Pliant Technologies

Pliant is a leading provider of professional wireless intercom solutions ranging from simple out-of-the-box configurations to large-scale designs for industries such as broadcast, live sound, theatre, and many more. As the professional division of CoachComm, Pliant is best known for the revolutionary Tempest wireless intercom system, which is used daily in more than 40 countries. Pliant is part of an extensive company history of providing intercom solutions to sports and professional markets, and consists of a team of industry professionals dedicated to the company’s tradition of innovation and service. Developing communication technologies that are dependable, durable, and easy-to-use has made CoachComm the worldwide leader in critical communication solutions. 

Author: D. Pagan Communications
Posted: February 19, 2020, 3:12 pm
Tegna, under pressure from activist investor Standard General, said it appointed Karen Grimes to its board as an independent director. Grimes spent more than 20 years at Wellington Management Co., where she was a partner, senior managing director and equity portfolio manager. She retired from ...

Broadcaster rejects Standard General slate of directors

Tegna, under pressure from activist investor Standard General, said it appointed Karen Grimes to its board as an independent director.

Karen Grimes

Grimes spent more than 20 years at Wellington Management Co., where she was a partner, senior managing director and equity portfolio manager. She retired from Wellington in 2018.

Standard General, which criticized the performance of Tegna’s stock and its merger and acquisition strategy, has been seeking seats on the broadcasters board. Tegna announced that it would not be in the best interest of Tegna shareholders to add any of the four Standard General nominees to Tegna’s board.

“Karen will bring an investor perspective to the Tegna board, and we look forward to leveraging her vast investment experience and independent viewpoint,” said Tegna CEO Dave Lougee. “We believe her insights will help us continue to execute effectively on our five pillar value-creation strategy and drive profitable growth both organically and through additional acquisitions.”

Tegna said it has added six new independent directors to its board over the past five years and now has 11 independent directors among its 12 board members.

“I am honored to be joining the Tegna board at such an important time in the Company’s strategic evolution in a rapidly changing industry landscape,” Grimes said. “I look forward to working with my fellow directors and the management team to provide the active oversight that will help Tegna continue to deliver value for shareholders.”

Tegna also announced that it declared a dividend of 7 cents a share, payable on April 1 to shareholders of record on March 6.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 2:42 pm
Looking to slow its ratings decline, top-rated kids network Nickelodeon announced a broad slate of programming for 2020 and 2021 that includes new live action and animated series, plus extensions of its current popular shows. Highlights include The Astronauts, an action-adventure series co-produced ...

‘Loud House’ Xmas Special, ‘Danger Force’ spinoff coming

Looking to slow its ratings decline, top-rated kids network Nickelodeon announced a broad slate of programming for 2020 and 2021 that includes new live action and animated series, plus extensions of its current popular shows.

'Young Dylan'

Highlights include The Astronauts, an action-adventure series co-produced with Imagine Kids+Family, a live-action Henry Danger spinoff called Danger Force, Big Nate based on the book series, Young Dylan from Tyler Perry and The Loud House: A Very Loud Christmas!, a live action TV movie to debut in December.

Nick also renewed All That, The Casagrandes, Blue’s Clues & You!, PAW Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Bubble Guppies, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Top Elf, a competition series from Main Event Media, an All3Media America company.

The slate announcement comes a day before Nick parent company ViacomCBS is set to release its quarterly earnings on Thursday. ViacomCBS is expected the expand its streaming operations in the face of falling linear viewership and cord-cutting.

Kids networks in particular have been impacted and as a group have been down more than 20% for 10 consecutive weeks. So far during this quarter, Nickelodeon's ratings are down among kids 2-11 are down more than 30%.

Nickelodeon said its programming slate is designed to create shows with co-viewing potential, reflect the diversity of today’s kids, mine talent from social media and expand its popular franchises.

Here are descriptions of some of Nickelodeon’s upcoming shows:

The Astronauts (working title; 10 episodes) Nickelodeon’s first co-production with Imagine Kids+Family, is a single-camera action-adventure series follows a group of kids ware mistakenly launched into space. The Astronauts is executive produced by Imagine Entertainment chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Imagine Kids+Family president Stephanie Sperber and Daniel Knauf, who also serves as writer and showrunner. The series is slated to premiere this summer.

Big Nate (26 episodes)The misadventures of Big Nate goes from page to screen in an all-new animated series based on HarperCollins’ best-selling children’s book title by Lincoln Peirce.

Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years (13 episodes) The original SpongeBob SquarePants voice cast has been tapped to reprise their roles in this CG-animated prequel. Premiering July, Kamp Koral follows a 10-year-old SpongeBob at sleepaway camp.

Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan (14 episodes) Executive produced, directed and written by Perry, the live-action series follows a family whose world is turned upside down when their nephew, Young Dylan (Dylan Gilmer), an aspiring hip-hop star, moves in unannounced. The series is currently in production at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta and will premiere, Feb. 29.

Danger Force (13 episodes) – This spinoff of Henry Danger stars “Ray/Captain Man” (Cooper Barnes) and “Schwoz” (Michael D. Cohen), and introduces four new superheroes-in-training as they team up to fight crime in their town of Swellview. Danger Force premieres, March 28.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 2:00 pm
Dish reported higher fourth-quarter earnings despite a continuing decline in subscribers. The company said it ended the quarter with 11.99 million pay-TV subscribers, down 194,000. A year ago, the company lost 334,000 subscribers. It’s customers included 9.394 million Dish TV subscribers, down ...

Sling reports first customer decline

Dish reported higher fourth-quarter earnings despite a continuing decline in subscribers.

The company said it ended the quarter with 11.99 million pay-TV subscribers, down 194,000. A year ago, the company lost 334,000 subscribers.

It’s customers included 9.394 million Dish TV subscribers, down 100,000, and 4.259 million Sling TV subscribers, down 94,000.

Analyst Steven Cahall of Wells Fargo Securities, noted that this appeared to be the first time Sling has lost subscribers.

Dish is the last large MVPD to report its quarterly results and cord cutting continues. Cahall estimates that total pay TV subscribers were down 5% year over year in 2019.

Dish’s fourth quarter net income rose to $389 million, or 69 cents a share, from $337 million, or 64 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue fell to $3.24 billion from $3.31 billion a year ago.

Kutgun Maral, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, called the results strong, coming in ahead of expectations.

“Investor focus remains centered on Dish’s ambitions on becoming a national facilities-based wireless carrier, and we look for further clarity on Dish’s buildout plans and potential partnerships,” Maral said. “In the meantime, it is worth noting that Dish’s satellite video subscriber declines have decelerated from 10.2% in 2018 and 7.7% in 3Q 2019 to now 5.2% year over year-- the lowest rate of decline in about 15 quarters going back to 2016."

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 1:45 pm
CABSAT 2020, Dubai, 31 March - 2 April 2020, Stand G3-24: Leaders in intelligent storage solutions, GB Labs, will showcase its award-winning Mosaic automatic asset organiser and the new CORE.4 Lite operating system during CABSAT 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 31 March – 2 April. The ...

CABSAT 2020, Dubai, 31 March - 2 April 2020, Stand G3-24: Leaders in intelligent storage solutions, GB Labs, will showcase its award-winning Mosaic automatic asset organiser and the new CORE.4 Lite operating system during CABSAT 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 31 March – 2 April.

CABSAT 2020, Dubai, 31 March - 2 April 2020, Stand G3-24: Leaders in intelligent storage solutions, GB Labs, will showcase its award-winning Mosaic automatic asset organiser and the new CORE.4 Lite operating system during CABSAT 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 31 March – 2 April.

The Mosaic asset organiser makes it far easier to quickly search for, retrieve, and view video assets. Mosaic automatically scans all inbuilt metadata and integrates it with AI tagging enabling the ability to store, catalogue and access assets with no need for manual intervention, making it a substantial time and money saver.

GB Labs new CORE.4 Lite operating system is a custom OS specifically designed to serve media files. Its high degree of speciality guarantees stable performance for every user, whether as workgroups or individuals, while maximising the efficiency of every disk.

A powerful new feature included with CORE.4 Lite is Analytics Centre, a dashboard that runs in the background of GB Labs intelligent storage devices and continuously analyses the network, providing complete visibility of exactly how, and by whom, data is being used.

GB Labs CEO-CTO Dominic Harland said, “Read/write speeds are usually compromised by a misconfigured network, which wastes resources. But configuration issues can be difficult to locate and resolve manually. Analytics Centre automatically analyses the read/write process through the network with specially designed algorithms that identifies, locates, and suggests how to resolve any issues, often before they occur, thereby eliminating the need for painstaking manual intervention.”

GB Labs will also demonstrate how its proprietary Dynamic Bandwidth Control identifies and selects high, medium, and low priority users to guarantee that the storage system automatically adjusts to operate at peak performance for all.

According to Harland, “Dynamic Bandwidth Control makes storage malleable to ensure it can flexibly respond to changes in usage priorities without breaking. This is unique to GB Labs and can be implemented whether storage is in use by one user or an entire workgroup.”

For backup and archiving, the exhibition stand workspaces will be coupled with GB Labs EasyLTO, an easy-to-use, cost-effective, all-in-one, high-speed solution.

Finally, the company will also discuss the success of recent GB Labs deployments to new customers including M for Media; Qatl Al Youm TV; Polimer TV; Craft; Kalvi TV; and Madha TV.

###

About GB Labs:

GB Labs is the global leader in Intelligent Media Storage, creating a shared storage ecosystem for the media industry. By understanding real-world industry problems, cutting-edge technologies have been developed for the unique "CORE" software that fulfils end users’ needs. Regardless of where the production is being filmed, how big the team is or the size of budget, GB Labs can provide a solution to ensure deadlines are met and throughout the whole process, content is secure.

Find out more at: www.gblabs.com or call: EUROPE (+44) (0)118 455 5000 or USA (+1) 661 493 8480.

Company Contact

Matt Worth

GB Labs Limited

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)118 455 5012

Media contact

Kara Myhill

Manor Marketing

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)789 997 7222

Author: Wire Contributor
Posted: February 19, 2020, 1:07 pm
B&C has partnered with always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv to bring you a weekly chart we call Promo Mojo: exclusive data showing the top five TV promos ranked by ad impressions. These are the shows networks have been promoting most heavily to drive tune-in (our data ...

And more from Promo Mojo, our exclusive weekly ranking of the programming networks are promoting most heavily

B&C has partnered with always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv to bring you a weekly chart we call Promo Mojo: exclusive data showing the top five TV promos ranked by ad impressions. These are the shows networks have been promoting most heavily to drive tune-in (our data covers the seven-day period through Feb. 16).

On the strength of 543.1 million TV ad impressions, ABC’s promo for American Idol tops our chart. The network also grabs third place to hype its new drama For Life, which was our No. 1 last time.

Fellow traditional broadcaster NBC serves up a joint promo in fifth place for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and Good Girls, while HGTV grabs second for its Extreme Makeover Home Edition reboot and History Channel fourth for its Washington miniseries.

Notably, the Extreme Makeover spot earns the highest iSpot Attention Index (145) in our ranking, getting 45% fewer interruptions than the average promo (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV).

View the original article to see embedded media.
Author: Eleanor Semeraro, Analyst and Contributor, TV[R]EV
Posted: February 19, 2020, 1:00 pm
AMC Networks’ streaming service Sundance Now acquired the U.S. rights to The Secrets She Keeps, a six-part drama from Australia. The Secrets She Keeps, a Lingo Pictures production, stars Laura Carmichael, Jessica de Gouw and Michael Dorman and will premiere on Sundance Now during the summer. ...

Drama series originated in Australia

AMC Networks’ streaming service Sundance Now acquired the U.S. rights to The Secrets She Keeps, a six-part drama from Australia.

Laura Carmichael and Jessica de Gouw in 'The Secrets She Keeps

The Secrets She Keeps, a Lingo Pictures production, stars Laura Carmichael, Jessica de Gouw and Michael Dorman and will premiere on Sundance Now during the summer.

“Sundance Now is excited to work with our friends at DCD Rights on another high-quality drama series. With its suspenseful, dark and twisty script and a stellar cast led by Laura Carmichael and Jessica de Gouw, The Secrets She Keeps is sure to be another can’t-miss drama for our subscribers,” said Shannon Cooper, VP of programming for Sundance Now.

The series is based on a novel by Michael Robotham. It features two pregnant women from different economic circumstances whose worlds collide as they try to keep their secrets.

“The combination of a stellar creative team, outstanding performances from leading talent and a truthful adaptation of a bestselling novel, has led to the exceptional drama that is The Secrets She Keeps,” said Nicky Davies Williams, CEO of DCD Rights. We are extremely proud that the series will get the US exposure it deserves through Sundance Now and know that it won’t disappoint US audiences.

The Secrets She Keeps is a Lingo Pictures Production for Network Ten with production funding from Screen Australia in association with Create NSW.

“Sundance Now has some of the best curated content in the US, so we are thrilled that North American audiences will soon be able to watch the series on such a respected platform,” said Helen Boden of Lingo Pictures. “This is a universal story so I’m delighted that it will screen in the US as well as in the UK, France, Australia and other major territories. It’s a show we’re very proud of.”

Sundance Now is available on most streaming devices for $6.99 a month, or $4.99 a month with an annual subscription.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 19, 2020, 12:00 pm
With a flurry of five short commercials during the Oscars telecast, Quibi kicked off the ad blitz it needs to teach potential subscribers such basics as how to pronounce the company’s name (say “kwih-bee”), and why they might use the mobile streaming-video service in the first place. The ad blitz ...

Everything you need to know about Jeffrey Katzenberg’s well-backed, star-studded and competitively challenged mobile-first video platform

With a flurry of five short commercials during the Oscars telecast, Quibi kicked off the ad blitz it needs to teach potential subscribers such basics as how to pronounce the company’s name (say “kwih-bee”), and why they might use the mobile streaming-video service in the first place.

The ad blitz was also a metaphor for Quibi itself and the challenges it faces launching a new entertainment brand, built entirely around short-form mobile video consumption, into the brutally competitive online-streaming sector.

On Oscar night, the brief ads made the point that even when time is tight, you can still watch all of a Quibi episode. Its series—Quibi plans 175 of them, and 8,500 pieces of content in its first year—will unfold in seven- to 10-minute bites over multiple weeks. Ads wrapped around Quibi episodes will be short too, from 6- to 15-seconds long. For access to all that, subscribers will pay about $5 a month for an ad-supported version of Quibi, and $8 per month for an ad-free version.

Visit Next TV to read the rest of this story.  

Author: Broadcasting & Cable Author
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:08 am
Thanks to timeshifting technology like the DVR and the growing popularity of streaming platforms, there has never been a better time to be a binge-watcher. But what shows are most popular when it comes to settling into a multi-episode (three or more) watch session? We worked with Inscape.tv, the TV ...

'Chicago P.D.', 'Criminal Minds', 'Law & Order: SVU' also rank high

Thanks to timeshifting technology like the DVR and the growing popularity of streaming platforms, there has never been a better time to be a binge-watcher. But what shows are most popular when it comes to settling into a multi-episode (three or more) watch session? We worked with Inscape.tv, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 12 million smart TVs, to surface top shows that had viewers in marathon mode last month. Note: Data is from Jan. 1-31, and is from timeshifted-detected sessions only.

With a new season that kicked off in early January, it’s not surprising that The Bachelor leads the list based on show minutes binged (as a percent of all binged shows that Inscape measured). Popular procedural dramas Chicago P.D., Criminal Minds and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit follow. With these series in syndication and often airing in marathons for easy DVRing, they make for perfect bingeing material. Live PD is another one worth mentioning, as it had one of the highest amounts of binge minutes per TV during the period measured.

Via Inscape.tv

Another way to look at binging is by the daily average of episodes binged. In January, Super Bowl Highlights topped the list, which makes total sense as the NFL playoffs came to a close and fans were gearing up for the Big Game. Chappelle’s Show and The Cleveland Show were two other series that had people watching a higher-than-average number of episodes in a row. 

Via Inscape.tv
Author: Eleanor Semeraro, Analyst and Contributor, TV[R]EV
Posted: February 19, 2020, 1:20 am
Ad-supported streaming service Haystack TV has expanded its worldwide distribution with a deal to be integrated into smart TVs made by Hisense. A Haystack TV app will be featured on Hisense’s new Vidaa smart TV platform. “Vidaa aggregates content from the best global and local partners for Vidaa ...

App featured on Vidaa platform

Ad-supported streaming service Haystack TV has expanded its worldwide distribution with a deal to be integrated into smart TVs made by Hisense.

A Haystack TV app will be featured on Hisense’s new Vidaa smart TV platform.

“Vidaa aggregates content from the best global and local partners for Vidaa users,” said Guy Edri, executive VP of business development for Hisense’s Vidaa platform. “Bringing the best free content to our customers locally in every market and globally is Vidaa’s global strategy. We are pleased to bring Haystack’s carefully curated and customized blend of local, national and international news to our platform."

Haystack TV delivers a customized mix of the day’s news from its library of more than 250 premium news sources covering 85% of local U.S. markets

“Haystack is very pleased to bring our one-of-a-kind news experience to the Vidaa platform,” said Haystack TV CEO and co-founder Daniel Barreto. “Haystack TV’s partnership with Hisense - and its impressive lineup of 2020 TVs - will help fuel our rapid growth for 2020 and beyond.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Haystack TV is available on platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku, as well as on LG, Samsung and Vizio smart TVs.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 18, 2020, 9:37 pm
AJA Ki Pro Ultra, HELO, FS1 and Mini-Converters help facilitate HD production workflows Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, uses television, cable, online and OTT broadcasts of worship programming to reach global audiences. The scope of Green Acres’ broadcast team includes 11 fulltime and ...

AJA Ki Pro Ultra, HELO, FS1 and Mini-Converters help facilitate HD production workflows

Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, uses television, cable, online and OTT broadcasts of worship programming to reach global audiences. The scope of Green Acres’ broadcast team includes 11 fulltime and one part-time staff member across video, audio and lighting, in addition to dozens of faithful volunteers to deliver high fidelity video to the global audience. Director of Video Engineering and IMAG Operations, Casey Hawkins, a 30-year broadcast industry veteran, recently assisted with an overhaul of Green Acres’ broadcast infrastructure, which upgraded all Worship Center television and cable channel production from SD to HD.

Central to Green Acres’ robust production workflow is a range of AJA gear supporting the broadcast of high quality video content for their audience on the national and global stage. As part of the recent HD upgrade, Sunday morning Celebration services in the Worship Center are captured with eight Sony HD cameras, connected via fiber to a pair of Ross Carbonite switchers (one for IMAG and one for broadcast) in the production suite. Footage from the service is recorded on a range of AJA Ki Pro Ultra devices in the Apple ProRes codec. “When I joined we had 6 of the original Ki Pro models, and we’ve been upgrading to Ki Pro Ultra because of their lightning speed, compact size and durability. They’re definitely worth the investment,” noted Hawkins. FOH audio feeds an average of 90 audio tracks recorded from the Sunday services that are re-mixed and re-mastered, then edited together with the video files in Adobe Premiere Pro. Following captioning, the final project is exported as an MPEG2 file and delivered to the cable channel and local ABC affiliate, KLTV for broadcast.

To further expand the reach of Green Acres’ Broadcast ministry, Hawkins created a Roku channel in March of 2017 to distribute Discover Life TV, the name of the church’s weekly telecast. The broadcast features live cable channel programming and popular on-demand content, including WEBS bible study sessions, special sermons, weekly announcements and events, like their annual Christmas Program and the annual Fourth of July celebration, “I Love America”, that historically draws 15,000 attendees. The cable channel feed is live streamed using an AJA HELO for encoding to the Roku CDN. “HELO is rock solid,” noted Hawkins. “We rely on HELO for 24/7/365 live streaming our cable master control output to our Roku channel. If there’s ever a CDN error or issue with our local internet connection, HELO will reinitiate the stream on its own, so I don’t have to come back to our broadcast center and reboot it. It’s been a true game changer!” An Amazon Prime Video Direct offering is currently in the works as well.

During the cable channel upgrade to HD, Green Acres purchased an AJA FS1 frame synchronizer and converter to cleanup and sync the master control output from the master control switcher. FS1 features two outputs for different scaling and resolutions, with the first routed to the cable headend via fiber and the second sent to HELO for encoding for the Roku channel. “Right now I have HELO down-converting our 1080i signal to 720p for a lighter stream payload, but I can easily lessen that workload within HELO and have the FS1 convert to 720p,” said Hawkins. “FS1 provides me with workflow flexibility and allows me to sync everything together with our house black, and clean up all signals from various sources throughout the campus.”

Fiber runs across Green Acres’ campus and to-and-from the cable headend simplify transmission of high bandwidth signals across long distances. Countless AJA Mini-Converters for fiber transmission, embedding/de-embedding audio, and HDMI to SDI/SDI to HDMI conversions help the production team maintain a consistent infrastructure throughout the campus. “They’re a lifesaver! Especially in our CrossWalk conference center where we have a lot of presenters come in,” said Hawkins. “They’ll bring a computer or iPad and need to convert HDMI into composite or HD-SDI, and AJA Mini-Converters do the trick. They’re great tools and we use them everywhere!”

In closing, Hawkins stated, “Working in a live broadcast environment, it’s critical we’re up-and-running 24/7 with no downtime, and I trust that I can depend on AJA gear. The company stands by its products, provides impressive customer service and technical support when I need it, and they continue to improve performance with regular software and firmware upgrades.”

Author: News Feed
Posted: February 18, 2020, 9:12 pm
According to the Phoenix Center, the FCC's decision to offer $9.7 billion in incentive payments to satellite operators for clearing off of C-Band spectrum ASAP was a sound one, with the added value of early clearance actually making it a net gain for the treasury. That is according to a new paper, ...

Said FCC was correct in offering $9-billion plus to satellite incumbents

According to the Phoenix Center, the FCC's decision to offer $9.7 billion in incentive payments to satellite operators for clearing off of C-Band spectrum ASAP was a sound one, with the added value of early clearance actually making it a net gain for the treasury.

That is according to a new paper, "Could Acceleration Payments Increase Funding for Broadband? A Review of the FCC’s C-Band Plan," which answers that question in the affirmative, to the tune of almost $1 billion.

Related: OTI Says C-Band Incentive Payments Are Non-Starters

A number of legislators from both sides of the aisle were unhappy that FCC chair Ajit Pai proposed the incentive payments to foreign satellite companies, saying the money should instead go to the treasury for rural broadband deployment, emergency communications and more.

But study author and Phoenix Center chief economist Dr. George S. Ford says the incentive payments will increase, not decrease, the Treasury's take by that nearly $1 billion.

The FCC has always planned to cover the transition costs of Satellite operators, which it estimates at between $3.3 and $5.2 billion over five years. "Speeding up the clearing of the C-Band will add to those costs but, at the same time, create value by bringing profits forward in time. By increasing expected profits, accelerated clearing should raise auction proceeds," Ford says. "This billion-dollar bump is the result of the Commission applying economic reasoning to limit the size of the acceleration payments to a level below the revenue effect of the accelerated clearing."

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 18, 2020, 6:07 pm
Sen. Bernie Sanders is the choice of a third of Latino Democrats planning to vote in the upcoming Nevada caucus. That puts him well ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden at 22%. That is according to a new Univision poll conducted by Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion Research Feb. 9-14. The ...

Bloomberg registers in national poll

Sen. Bernie Sanders is the choice of a third of Latino Democrats planning to vote in the upcoming Nevada caucus. That puts him well ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden at 22%.

That is according to a new Univision poll conducted by Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion Research Feb. 9-14.

The general wisdom is that Biden, who did not win, place or show in either of the first two contests, needs to do well in Nevada and South Carolina.

Sanders also leads in a national survey of Latino votes commissioned by Univision, up 10 points with Hispanic Democrats since September. Biden is in second place, just barely edging out newcomer Mike Bloomberg.

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who came out of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary a definite contender, has only 5% of Latino Democrats in the national survey, with 20% saying they don't know enough about him.

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 18, 2020, 5:55 pm
Joan Barrett has been named president and GM of Tegna's WCNC(TV) Charlotte, N.C., an NBC affiliate.  Barrett joins the company from Nexstar's KDVR(TV)-KWGN(TV) Denver (formerly Tribune stations), a Fox and CW affiliate, respectively.  Barrett's resume includes running president and GM of ...

Barrett brings extensive news, management background

Joan Barrett

Joan Barrett has been named president and GM of Tegna's WCNC(TV) Charlotte, N.C., an NBC affiliate. 

Barrett joins the company from Nexstar's KDVR(TV)-KWGN(TV) Denver (formerly Tribune stations), a Fox and CW affiliate, respectively. 

Barrett's resume includes running president and GM of Sunflower Broadcasting/Schurz Communications in Wichita, running a five-station TV group. 

Barrett rose through the news ranks, rather than the more common sales track, beginning her career as a reporter, then successively anchor, producer and news director. 

“Joan possesses a combination of skills in journalism, marketing and digital media that make her extremely well-suited to lead our team at WCNC,“ said Lynn Beall, EVP and COO for media operations at Tegna, in a statement. 

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 18, 2020, 5:25 pm
ABC took first place in Monday night's primetime ratings race. The network stayed steady at a 1.5 and a 7 share, in viewers 18-49 according to Nielsen overnights. NBC came in close second with a 1.0/5. The Bachelor did the same as last week with a 1.8 as well as 'The Good Doctor' which ...

Finale of 'AGT Champions' rose as well

ABC took first place in Monday night's primetime ratings race. The network stayed steady at a 1.5 and a 7 share, in viewers 18-49 according to Nielsen overnights. NBC came in close second with a 1.0/5.

The Bachelor did the same as last week with a 1.8 as well as 'The Good Doctor' which received a 0.9. 'The Bachelor' aired from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

NBC received a 1.0 and a 5 share on the night. The finale of America's Got Talent: Champions grew 20% to a 1.2 rating, also from 8 to 10 p.m. Manifest grew a tenth of a point to a 0.7.

Fox came in third with a 0.9/4. 9-1-1: Lone Star led the network with a 1.2, up two tenths from the previous week. Prodigal Son stayed the same at a 0.7.

Next was CBS with a 0.6/3. The Neighborhood stayed the same at a 0.9 and Bob Hearts Abishola stayed at a 0.7. All Rise and Bull fell to a 0.6.

Univision came in with a 0.5/2 with its programming staying the same at 0.5. Telemundo received a 0.3/2.

The CW got 0.2/1 with All American receiving a 0.3 and Black Lightning was repeats.

Author: Chelsea Anderson
Posted: February 18, 2020, 5:25 pm
LONDON, UK, February 12, 2020 — Xytech, a leader in facility management software for media and broadcast, has named industry-veteran Matt Waldock to the position of VP and Director of Business Development, EMEA at Xytech’s UK office in London. In his new role, Waldock will serve as a key ...

LONDON, UK, February 12, 2020 — Xytech, a leader in facility management software for media and broadcast, has named industry-veteran Matt Waldock to the position of VP and Director of Business Development, EMEA at Xytech’s UK office in London.

In his new role, Waldock will serve as a key point-person and further develop the relationships of Xytech’s existing clients in the EMEA region, while expanding Xytech into new markets across EMEA.

“Matt’s extensive background in the media and broadcast industry helps immensely as we continue to quickly grow in the region,” said Greg Dolan of Xytech. “The European market is our fastest growing market geography, and Matt’s experience will make sure Xytech continues to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate our clients’ needs.”

Waldock, who previously served as a director at Xytech in the mid-2000s, said he’s looking forward to joining the team again during such an exciting time in the company’s growth.

“I’m truly pleased to be part of the Xytech team once again,” Waldock said. “Returning during a period when Xytech is experiencing such rapid growth is really exciting, and I’m looking forward to playing a role in continuing to expand our growing footprint in EMEA market.”

Extensive Industry Experience

Waldock has worked in the UK’s broadcast industry for 25 years, including positions with ITV and Deluxe Media Europe. Waldock’s deep background and extensive experience with Xytech’s products will help him better tailor the company’s solutions to a wide variety of client needs.

“I’m hoping to use my background in broadcasting to not only supply current and prospective clients with the best solutions possible, but also work ahead of the curve and help our clients find solutions they might need in the future,” Waldock said. “I will focus on not only what they need right now but also what they will need next year and evolve with them.”

About Xytech

For more than 30 years, the world’s premiere media companies have depended on Xytech to run their businesses. MediaPulse is the only end-to-end solution for the complete content lifecycle. MediaPulse provides scheduling, automation, asset management, billing and cost recovery for broadcasters, media services companies and transmission facilities in a scalable platform-independent solution. For more information, visit xytechsystems.com.

Author: Hummingbird Media, Inc.
Posted: February 18, 2020, 3:14 pm
Munich, Germany, 18 February 2020: Cinegy GmbH, the premier provider of media technology and production solutions, has announced the opening of a new office in Istanbul - Cinegy Medya AŞ - in order to provide faster and higher quality customer services to its business partners, system integrators ...

Cinegy GmbH, the premier provider of media technology and production solutions, has announced the opening of a new office in Istanbul - Cinegy Medya AŞ - in order to provide faster and higher quality customer services to its business partners, system integrators and customers in the local region.

Munich, Germany, 18 February 2020: Cinegy GmbH, the premier provider of media technology and production solutions, has announced the opening of a new office in Istanbul - Cinegy Medya AŞ - in order to provide faster and higher quality customer services to its business partners, system integrators and customers in the local region.

Cinegy's extensive customer base in Turkey includes the area’s largest media groups, training institutions and corporate customers. In order to respond to the ever-changing and developing workflow and transformational needs of these customers, Cinegy has put together a local team of experienced technical and sales personnel.

Cinegy GmbH Manager Director Daniella Weigner says: "We decided to open a local office in Turkey as it’s always been at the forefront of new technologies, research and practice for us and we’ve helped carry out a number of comprehensive and important projects there. We’re proud to have Murat Küçüksaraç heading up Cinegy Medya AŞ as Chief Operating Officer who is building an innovative and experienced team. We are excited about this new structuring and the opportunities it will bring."

###

About Cinegy:

Cinegy develops software solutions for collaborative workflow encompassing IP, capture, editing and playout services tools, integrated into an active archive for full digital asset management. Either SaaS, virtualizable stacks, cloud or on-premises, Cinegy is COTS using standard IT hardware, and non-proprietary storage technology. Cinegy products are reliable, affordable, scalable, easily deployable and intuitive. Cinegy is truly Software Defined Television. Visit www.cinegy.com for more details.

Cinegy PR Contact:

Jennie Marwick-Evans

Manor Marketing

[email protected]

+44 (0) 7748 636171

Author: Wire Contributor
Posted: February 18, 2020, 2:23 pm
FEBRUARY 18, 2020 (EXTON, PA) — When the largest cable telecommunications technology trade show in the Americas, SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo®, returns to Denver in October, three topics will be at the top of the agenda: connected applications that will transform the lives of consumers; operational ...

Calling Thought Leaders from Cable and Beyond to Share Expertise at Largest Telecommunications and Technology Trade Show in the Americas

FEBRUARY 18, 2020 (EXTON, PA) — When the largest cable telecommunications technology trade show in the Americas, SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo®, returns to Denver in October, three topics will be at the top of the agenda: connected applications that will transform the lives of consumers; operational innovation that will optimize network performance; and technology enablement to take workforces into the future.

In the call for papers issued today for Expo’s Fall Technical Forum workshops, SCTE•ISBE, CableLabs® and NCTA jointly opened a search for subject matter expertise in 13 categories, including those related to the industry’s 10G initiative, as well as breakthrough service opportunities that will shape the future of connectivity. Categories include: the internet of things; artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics; operational transformation; powering 10G; and the workplace of the future. The complete call for papers can be found at expo.scte.org/callforpapers.

“Cable’s revolution is opening the gates for cross-industry collaboration that will change the way consumers experience the world around them,” said Chris Bastian, senior vice president, engineering and CTIO of SCTE•ISBE. “Expo 2020 is at the intersection of cable innovation, applied science and business opportunities. It’s breaking new ground by giving thought leaders from inside and outside of the cable industry a platform to showcase their work and a forum for ideation that will lay the foundation for future innovation.”

SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo is known across the cable industry and beyond as the preeminent venue for thought leadership, engineering innovation, and deal making within the broadband telecommunications sector. No other event brings together content and service providers, technology partners, industry experts and innovators at every level to learn, network, and shape the future of connectivity. Ed Marchetti, senior vice president, operations for Comcast and Tom Monaghan, senior vice president, field operations for Charter Communications, will co-chair Expo 2020, which will be held Oct. 13-16 at the Colorado Convention Center. 

Author: Paul Schneider
Posted: February 18, 2020, 2:00 pm
Canoe said that ad impressions in cable video-on-demand programming rose 4% to 27.3 billion in 2019. The increase is smaller than in past years because most of the networks that Canoe inserts ads into are starting to hit their ceiling with available inventory on the platform, according to Chris ...

More campaigns are for brand advertisers

Canoe said that ad impressions in cable video-on-demand programming rose 4% to 27.3 billion in 2019.

The increase is smaller than in past years because most of the networks that Canoe inserts ads into are starting to hit their ceiling with available inventory on the platform, according to Chris Pizzurro, VP, global sales, at Canoe.

Owned by Comcast, Charter and Cox, Canoe covers 38 million homes with its dynamic ad insertion capabilities, up from 36 million a year ago, including homes served by Frontier Communications.

In 2019, 21% of Canoes impression came on devices other than set-top box connected TVs, up from 19% a year ago.

Canoe ran 10,071 campaigns--up from 7,476--of which 86% were for external advertisers and 14% were internal cable network tune-in and promotional spots. Last year, 82% of the campaigns were for external advertisers.

Of the external campaigns, 93% were the result of direct sales, while 7% took place in programmatic private marketplaces. In 2018, 9% were sold in private marketplaces.

In its year end report, Canoe said that VOD program averaged about 4 ad opportunities per mid-roll break, up from 3.89. They averaged 1.6 ads pre-roll, up from 1.57 and 1.5 post roll, up from 1.36.

Canoe noted that most campaigns take advantage of its ad frequency capping capability, limiting the number of times a viewer sees a particular commercial to two time per episode or movie. With the cap, 56% of viewers see an ad just once per episode, 29% see its twice and 10% see it three times with just 5% getting five impressions. Measured per week, 38% see an ad once, 25% see it twice, 14% see it three times and 23% see it four times.

Note: Pizzurro will be among the speakers at the Advanced Advertising Summit on March 24 in New York. 

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 18, 2020, 1:00 pm
Longtime A+E Networks executive Sean Cohan has joined Nielsen as chief growth officer and president, international. Nielsen also promoted two other executives to senior posts. Karthik Rao was appointed chief operating officer for Nielsen Global Media and Peter Bradbury was named chief commercial ...

Former A+E exec also named president, international

Longtime A+E Networks executive Sean Cohan has joined Nielsen as chief growth officer and president, international.

Nielsen also promoted two other executives to senior posts. Karthik Rao was appointed chief operating officer for Nielsen Global Media and Peter Bradbury was named chief commercial officer in the U.S.

Rao had been chief product, technology and operating officer. Bradbury had been executive VP and managing director, US Media Sellers Group.

Cohan was president, international and digital media after 15 years at A+E. At Nielsen he will oversee the growth strategy, partnerships, corporate and business development and all Nielsen international businesses including Gracenote, Nielsen sports and outcomes offerings. He left A+E at the end of 2018 and was president of Wheelhouse Entertainment.

Nielsen is coming off a challenging year in which it was pressured by shareholders and mounted a strategic review that led to a decision to divide its business into two separate companies.

"These appointments illustrate the commitment we have to building out a rigorous and forward looking business dedicated to one media truth and the belief that a transparent, unified independent view of the total audience will help the entire ecosystem succeed and thrive in this evolving landscape," said Nielsen CEO David Kenny. "These appointments set us up well for the future."

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 18, 2020, 12:02 am
The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday drew an average of 7.3 million viewers, up 8% from last year. TNT’s viewership peaked at an average of 8 million viewers from 11:15 to 11:30 p.m. as the teams played a commercial-free fourth quarter under new rules designed to boost competition. The All-Star Game’s ...

Viewership peaks during commercial-free 4th quarter

The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday drew an average of 7.3 million viewers, up 8% from last year.

TNT’s viewership peaked at an average of 8 million viewers from 11:15 to 11:30 p.m. as the teams played a commercial-free fourth quarter under new rules designed to boost competition.

The All-Star Game’s increase in viewing contrasts with the regular-season to date, which has registered ratings that are down double-digits from last year.

Related: Silver Says NBA Looking to Fix Lower TV Ratings

The game started with a tribute to Chicago’s basketball history and to the late Kobe Bryant, who wore jersey number 8 early in his career. The pre-game coverage averaged 6.3 million viewers, up 19% from last year.

Related Sponsors Flock to TNT's NBA All-Star Weekend

In the game, the team led by LeBron James beat Giannis Antetokounmpo’s squad 157-155.

The game used a new scoring format, with the winner of each of the first three quarters earning $100,000 for their chosen charity. The fourth quarter was untimed--with no TV timeouts. The score from the first three quarters were added together. To win, one team had to score 24 more points than the team in the lead had, meaning that the game would be ended by a made basket or free throw. The 24 figure was a tribute to Bryant, who wore that number at the end of his career.

The format resulted in the game coming to a new-basket-wins situation, decided by an Anthony Davis foul shot.

Viewership for TNT for its All-Star weekend coverage was up 15% and the highest since 2017.

Social content published across @NBAonTNT and @NBATV generated increases of 44% in video views, 33% in impressions and 26% in engagements, according to Turner Sports.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 17, 2020, 9:34 pm
LILLE & PARIS, FRANCE – February 17, 2020 – Now in its third year, the UGC Writers Campus by Series Mania, will be held once again as part of Series Mania. An immersive week-long writing workshop for 20 emerging TV drama writers throughout Europe, and under the editorial supervision of Lorraine ...

LILLE & PARIS, FRANCE – February 17, 2020 – Now in its third year, the UGC Writers Campus by Series Mania, will be held once again as part of Series Mania. An immersive week-long writing workshop for 20 emerging TV drama writers throughout Europe, and under the editorial supervision of Lorraine Sullivan, UGC Writers Campus by Series Mania will run from March 20-27, 2020. Over the course of two months, more than 100 candidates from 30 different countries applied.

For the 2020 edition, the president of the campus will be Eli Horowitz, the creator and showrunner of the highly successful Amazon series Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts, with Season 2 set for this Spring. The 20 selected screenwriters will be also tutored by screenwriter Jeppe Gjervig Gram (Follow the Money, Borgen) and screenwriter and story consultant Nicola Lusuardi (, 1992), over the course of the program, through masterclasses, writing workshops and meetings with industry professionals. They will present their projects to the talent and producers of Series Mania Forum in one-on-one sessions and a general presentation on March 27, 2020 at Lille Grand Palais.

Under the supervision of Lorraine Sullivan and the Series Mania selection committee, the selected participants include:

  • Richard Brabin – At Sea – UK (London Film School)
  • Marta Irene Rosato – Bad Reputation – Italy (London Film School)
  • Judit Anna Banhazi – Christabel - Hungary (Midpoint)
  • Bar Farjun & Shachar Rosenfeld, Israël – The Instructors – (Sam Spiegel Film School)
  • Alain Moreau, France – Agnès & Luis (La Fémis)
  • Daniela Luciani & Ilaria Coppolecchia – Lamb of God – Italy (Scuola Holden)
  • Elena Lyubarskaya & Katerina Gerothanasi – Moving On - Russia & Greece (Serial Eyes)
  • Thomas Lehout & Juliette Barry – Lady Of War – France (CEEA)
  • Rachel Kilfeather – In the waters – Ireland
  • Kelsi Phung & Fabien Corre – Reconnaissances - France
  • Eva Mathijssen – Tulpa - Netherlands
  • Rahela Jagric Pric – Chef’s chefs - Slovenia
  • Manuela Piemonte – 10th July - Italy
  • Olga Chajdas & Marta Konarzewska – The Gift – Poland

“Since the creation of the program, the UGC Writers Campus by Series Mania objective has been to find the best emerging talent, bring them together with renown showrunners, and allow them to share their creative vision,” stated Laurence Herszberg, founder and general director of Series Mania. “An essential focus of the workshop teaches how to engage international audiences and produce innovative content in line with industry demands. We are delighted to be announcing these 20 selected participants, as well as Eli, Nicola and Jeppe as our esteemed guests and look forward to welcoming everyone to Lille.”

"We are very proud of the selection of screenwriters for the UGC Writers Campus. The richness of the profiles and the diversity of nationalities reflect our desire for openness and our desire to support national and international creation,” added Brigitte Maccioni, Deputy General Manager of UGC.

UGC WRITERS CAMPUS | PARTNER SCHOOLS

ABOUT SERIES MANIA 

Created by Laurence Herszberg in 2010 in collaboration with artistic director Frederic Lavigne while both were at the Forum des images, the Series Mania Festival brings the best international series to the big screen and offers audiences (over 72,000 spectators in 2019) the rare opportunity to meet and learn from renowned showrunners, directors and television talent. Series Mania has developed into a unique event with wide recognition that is entirely dedicated to series, aimed at both the general public and industry professionals. For the 2020 edition, from March 20-28, the Festival will once again be held in the charming northern French city of Lille (Hauts-de-France). As usual, it will include a program of world premieres and series selected for competition, overseen by a prestigious international jury.

ABOUT SERIES MANIA FORUM 

Launched in 2013, Series Mania Forum, the industry arm of the Series Mania Festival, has become the place to be for all those involved in the creation of series from around the world. In just a few years, Series Mania Forum has already seen many projects come to fruition, including Eden, Stella Blomkvist, Keeping Faith and Tabula Rasa, with many others currently in production. In 2019, the Forum held its second edition of Lille Transatlantic Dialogues, a one-day summit bringing together high-level political, corporate, creative and economic players from the TV and culture sectors in Europe and North America. With more than 3,000 registered professionals expected in 2020, the Forum (March 25-27) is now the place where industry talent and decision-makers meet to create the new generation of serial fiction.

ABOUT UGC

The UGC Group is one of the main players in the cinema industry in Europe with more than 500 theaters in France and Belgium (including UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles in Paris, the leading cinema in the world in terms of attendance) and the UGC network, one of the first in French-speaking Europe. It’s subsidiary UGC Images produces and distributes popular comedies, such as What Did We Do To The Good Lord?, by Philippe de Chauveron and its sequel, as well as major art house movies by directors such as Jacques Audiard (UGC has distributed all his films for 15 years) or Terrence Malick (A Hidden Life released in late 2019). In 2016, UGC launched the creation of a fiction production group UGC SERIES, today made up of five production structures in France and the United Kingdom. These entities currently produce and develop around twenty series for the main French and international broadcasters. Their first productions broadcast in France have reached historic audiences.

Author: Sheila Morris
Posted: February 17, 2020, 4:35 pm
Much attention has been paid to the consumer technologies and digital media now disrupting the TV industry. Behind the scenes, though, there’s been an equally important revolution in the technology infrastructures that media and entertainment companies use to create and distribute content. This ...

Meet 10 leaders laying the groundwork for the next generation of news and entertainment

Much attention has been paid to the consumer technologies and digital media now disrupting the TV industry. Behind the scenes, though, there’s been an equally important revolution in the technology infrastructures that media and entertainment companies use to create and distribute content.

This year’s B+C Technology Leadership Award winners have been at the forefront of that revolution, developing and deploying new technologies that promise to radically change the way TV companies operate, giving them new facilities and tools for a host of new services and business strategies.

This year’s award winners will be honored at the Technology Leadership Award dinner in Atlanta on Thursday, March 5. Here are their stories.

Fred Baumgartner
Director, Next Gen TV Implementation, ONE Media 3.0 /Sinclair Broadcast Group

Fred Baumgartner, Ddrector, next gen TV implementation, ONE Media 3.0 /Sinclair Broadcast Group

Fred Baumgartner is more than a prime example of the innovative tech work that has long come out of the broadcast industry. His long and varied career in broadcasting, emergency alerting, cable, mobile and tech training also shows how tech leaders use their experience to implement technologies like ATSC 3.0, which promises to revolutionize the over-the-air television.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have had a front-row seat to many, if not most, of the advances that make up next-gen broadcasting,” said Baumgartner, working at Sinclair Broadcast Group’s ONE Media 3.0 to develop some of the first applications of ATSC 3.0.

Baumgartner has held a lifelong fascination with broadcasting. At 12, he and a friend set up a radio station, which the Detroit police soon shut down. By 16, he was working at an AM radio station.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in electronics education at the University of Wisconsin, he taught school for two years before moving to full-time broadcast engineering, first in radio and then in TV. He was chief engineer at a number of TV stations, including KDVR/KFCT Denver and WTTV/WTTK Indianapolis.

In the early 1990s, he played a key role in the development of emergency alerting systems and published hundreds of articles and several books on radio and TV engineering. He’s also been extremely active in training at industry organizations like the Society of Broadcast Engineers, work that won him the SBE Educator of the Year Award.

Rounding out that already wide ranging resume, Baumgartner was also director of engineering at the Comcast Media Center in Denver; he directed the Leitch/Harris Systems Engineering Group; and he was director of broadcast engineering for Qualcomm’s MediaFLO, a groundbreaking effort to deliver content to mobile devices.

Baumgartner’s long history of innovation and wide-ranging resume have guided his work developing new applications for ATSC 3.0. “The major value to the industry is the merging of OTT and OTA and using our advantage to wirelessly deliver content,” he said. That will create “a world of opportunity,” boosting audiences with the addition of mobile viewing and creating business opportunities with new ad revenues from “dynamic ad insertions and hyperlocalized programming,” he said.

Chris Blandy
Executive VP, Technology Solutions, Walt Disney Television

Chris Blandy, executive VP, technology solutions, Walt Disney Television

One obvious example of Chris Blandy’s technology leadership in the TV industry occurred earlier this year, when his old tech teams at Fox Networks Engineering & Operations (now part of Walt Disney Television) won a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award, along with Discovery, Amazon Web Services, Evertz and SDVI, for their pioneering work in developing public cloud-based linear media supply chains.

Work on issues like “linear media supply chains” may sound obscure, but it’s part of an industry-wide effort to deploy new, much more flexible technologies that will allow media companies to thrive in a digital world. “It has really been a game-changer for our operations,”

Blandy said. Blandy’s fascination with new technologies began as “young boy when my dad brought home a Commodore [home computer] in the early 1980s.” At the University of Texas, Blandy studied economics but worked in technology throughout his school tenure. He learned valuable skills in digital video and multimedia while working at the school’s computer lab from 1995 to 2000.

Such skills were increasingly in demand at TV operations and in 2000 he joined Fox Sports to help them build out their digital presence, which included the first webcast of a major college football game.

More innovation followed as he assumed increasingly senior roles. In 2007, he led Fox’s initial tech efforts for the launch of the Hulu joint venture with NBCUniversal, and as SVP of digital media at Fox, he supervised the development of their pioneering TV everywhere initiatives.

Then, as executive VP of technical solutions at Fox Networks Engineering and Operations from October 2013 until 2019, he assumed direct responsibility for TV engineering teams, merging the digital teams into the broadcast engineering group. “That enabled us to take another look at the entire supply chain and figure out how we could leverage some of the expertise we had in software, IP and cloud technologies,” to radically rethink their operations, he said.

These efforts, which recently earned a technical Emmy, “allowed us to take the best of both world, broadcast and digital,” to build new cloud and IP-based infrastructures, Blandy said.

After the Disney acquisition of the 21st Century Fox properties, Blandy is continuing those efforts as executive VP of technology solutions. “We’re keeping an eye on the future while continuing to integrate all those platforms” for the combined Disney and Fox operations, he said.

Terri Gunnell
Executive VP, Monetization & Data Platforms, WarnerMedia Technology and Operations

Terri Gunnell, executive VP, monetization & data platforms, WarnerMedia Technology and Operations

As all the major TV companies pivot their business strategies to launch direct-to-consumer subscription or ad-based video-on-demand streaming services, advanced technologies for better data analytics, monetization and advertising have become central to the industry’s success.

Terri Gunnell’s success in using those technologies to strengthen traditional TV businesses and build new ones dates back to an early passion for learning new technologies. After graduating from Florida State University, she joined Turner Sports in Atlanta in 1991 as a production assistant and then moved into trafficking and scheduling ads for Turner’s networks.

Here, she quickly displayed an aptitude for finding new ways to use technology to strengthen operations and businesses. All on her own, she figured out how to use the relatively primitive data software tools of the time to send reports about pricing and inventory to the ad sales team in New York. “I just always had this passion for figuring out how we could use data to make more money and make ourselves more efficient,” she recalled.

That led to a 1996 promotion to join the ad sales team in New York and pioneering work on developing new technologies for managing and selling ads. In 2000, Gunnell was named director of product design and implementation for ad sales, initially overseeing the business requirements for new ad technologies and then managing both the business requirements and the engineering teams for those technologies.

Those teams in 2008 created Crossroads, a custom-built trafficking system that would win a technical Emmy, and a host of other new tools for Turner’s ad sales and monetization efforts.

Building on those successes, Gunnell took a series of increasingly important roles and in 2019, following AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, she was promoted to her current role, heading up data and monetization tech efforts at WarnerMedia.

“One of our big focuses is on how we can use our data to power [the upcoming launch of] HBO Max,” she said. Her teams are also working with AT&T and Xandr on new ad and data analytics systems, including the development of a complete cross-platform suite of tools and the launch of national addressable advertising on WarnerMedia’s TV networks in 2021.

Throughout her career, Gunnell has also focused on her tech teams, which have very low turnover, and on mentoring as a way to encourage innovation. “I’ve had the good luck of getting help in my career and I’m really a fan of taking mentoring very seriously,” she said.

Renard Jenkins
Former VP, Production, Media and Distribution Operations, PBS Technology and Operations

Renard Jenkins, former VP, production, media and distribution operations, PBS Technology and Operations

Renard Jenkins has been a notable example of TV network tech leadership from the start of his career at CNN, where he won Emmy Awards, to PBS, where he has played central roles in the launch of PBS Kids, the creation of the PBS’s Advanced Format Center and the rollout of new content delivery infrastructures. He recently left PBS to pursue a new opportunity.

Jenkins started college at Florida State University with the idea of becoming a marine biologist. He was frequently put in charge of filming ocean dives, and eventually decided to pursue his longstanding love of film, music and sound as a career.

Jenkins landed at CNN in 1989. “I got there just in time for Desert Storm and I became part of an award-winning team of editors who traveled the world and put out a lot of content,” he said.

CNN was “like a giant R&D playground” in those years, Jenkins recalled. This enabled him to test and play with a wide range of production equipment, skills that helped him move CNN to a file-based editing system. After a stint at Discovery Communications between 2006 and 2009, where he refreshed the company’s Technical Center, he joined TV One, where he helped design, build and then lead the network’s production facility.

Since joining PBS in 2010, he helped set up PBS’s Advanced Format Center and used the R&D facility to spearhead a wide range of pioneering work with stations, vendors and manufacturers on the creation and distribution of VR/AR, 4K, high dynamic range (HDR), new audio systems and other formats. “We really want to get an understanding of where these things are going to land,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins has also been playing a central role in the development of PBS’s next generation of media supply chains and content delivery systems, which will move the network and stations to cloud and IP-based infrastructures. It’s already helping public broadcasters quickly launch new services, such as the recent rollout of PBS stations on YouTube TV.

But Jenkins, who has won a number of awards for his work over the years, said he is most proud to have been the technical lead on the launch of PBS Kids. “It touches our youth and our most vulnerable children and gives them a space to learn and grow,” he said. “That means a lot to me.”

Aaron LaBerge
Executive VP & Chief Technology Officer, The Walt Disney Co., Direct-to-Consumer & International

Aaron LaBerge, executive VP & chief technology officer, The Walt Disney Co., Direct-to-Consumer & International

Aaron LaBerge’s long list of innovative tech efforts run the gamut from the launch of sports websites and early work on the internet delivery of sports clips, to pioneering mobile offerings and the recent launch of Disney+.

LaBerge is also a notable example of how executives with a background in software, computers and digital are revolutionizing the TV industry. Those skills would ultimately lead to his getting the job as chief technology officer at ESPN — only the second in company history — and to his current role, with responsibility for the technology vision and strategy of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international efforts.

“I think a lot of people think of Disney as being a content company,” LaBerge said. “We are certainly a master storyteller that is all about our characters and experience, but the earliest days of Disney and the earliest days of ESPN, it’s always been about a marriage of content and technology, and I think that is even more true today.”

LaBerge became fascinated with the web and computer software while studying engineering at the University of South Carolina and after school went to work in software engineering, joining Starwave in 1997, which was involved in pioneering web work for the likes of ESPN.com, NBA.com, NFL.com and others. “We created the first version of ESPN.com and found a way to automatically load scores to the website,” he recalled.

After The Walt Disney Co. acquired Starwave in 1998, LaBerge joined Disney Interactive and then ESPN, overseeing tech teams on a number of pioneering projects, including early efforts to put video clips on the website and the launch of ESPN’s mobile product in 2005. “Rethinking the workflows for that project laid the foundation for our later mobile efforts today, where we continue to be a leader,” he said.

After a stint as the co-founder of software company Fanzter, he returned to ESPN in 2015 as only its second CTO. In that role, he used his digital background to revamp traditional TV operations.

He assumed his current role in 2018, following Disney’s acquisition of the 21st Century Fox cable and studio assets, overseeing the technological vision and tech teams at the Direct-to-Consumer & International division.

Those efforts have already led to the successful launch of Disney+, which has racked up nearly 29 million subscribers as of the end of January. “We’ve integrated the 20th Century Fox team and we are creating a truly global organization so that everything we do is not just domestic, but global,” he said.

Stephanie Lone
Senior VP, Engineering, CBS Sports Digital and CBS Interactive

Stephanie Lone, senior VP, engineering, CBS Sports Digital and CBS Interactive

While live sports is one of the most popular types of online content, it’s also one of the most difficult to deliver. Consumers expect streaming services to provide the high quality video they’ve long demanded from broadcasters and cable networks.

That imperative makes Stephanie Lone’s lengthy career at CBS Interactive and CBS Sports Digital particularly noteworthy, given that the innovative technologies developed by her teams now deliver a mind-boggling 30,000-plus live streaming events each year, as well as a host of other services from fantasy sports to breaking news.

Much of this was built on an early fascination with tech and new media. As a kid, Lone recalls playing games on computers and learning how to code improved versions of them. While earning a bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University from 1989 to 1993, she was so fascinated with multimedia applications she convinced her professors to let her put together a multidisciplinary course of study with an emphasis on multimedia.

After graduating, she started her own company focused on multimedia, animation and design that began working for SportsLine. SportsLine acquired her company in 1997 and was in turn acquired by Viacom in 2004.

At CBS Interactive, Lone has held a series of increasingly senior roles, including a promotion to VP of core data services in 2007, VP of ad revenue systems in 2008 and VP of shared platforms in 2010.

Armed with that wide-ranging expertise in digital media, she moved back to sports in 2014, first as VP of engineering at CBS Sports Digital and then in her current role in 2019, where her teams have developed pioneering cloud-based workflows. “By executing the majority of the workflows in the cloud, we’ve been able to deliver very high-quality video with low latency for very high-profile events like the Super Bowls,” she said.

At the same time, her team has used cloud-based workflows to successfully spin up new services like CBS Sports HQ and deliver an ever-growing roster of live events.

“The digital transformation we did 18 months ago now allows us to execute over 30,000 live events in the cloud,” she said, which in turn has made CBSI more efficient and flexible. “It allows us to deliver the best possible experience to the consumer.”

She credits that success to her teams. “We wouldn’t be achieving what we’ve done if we didn’t have this fantastic team of people,” Lone said.

Jeff Mayzurk
Senior VP of Operations and Technology, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises

Jeff Mayzurk, senior VP of operations and technology, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises

Jeff Mayzurk joins this year’s class of Technology Leadership Award winners after years of innovative work, most notably in overseeing the design and construction of the Telemundo Center in Miami, a facility that employs groundbreaking internet protocol and cloud technologies.

As with some other 2020 award winners who’ve brought innovation from newer media into the TV industry, Mayzurk developed an early fascination with computing and software. By age 10, he was playing around with computers. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, he started working in software development at companies like CNET, which in those days was heavily involved in creating tools for publishing content to the web.

CNET had a joint venture with E! to launch Eonline.com and when CNET sold its stake, Mayzurk moved to Los Angeles to work for the cable network. That led to increasingly senior tech positions at E! and then at Comcast, as it acquired E! and expanded its cable-network portfolio. “It was a time when the media and entertainment industries that had been based on bespoke hardware were becoming more software oriented,” Mayzurk recalled. “That opened up some interesting opportunities for people like me to apply new technologies to solve problems.”

In the early 2000s, Mayzurk and his teams developed an innovative and much less costly way to launch international networks for E! that involved internet delivery. In 2009, after Comcast announced plans to acquire NBCUniversal, Mayzurk led the tech teams overseeing transition planning. Post-merger, as general manager of West Coast Technical Operations, he led the creation of an innovative 150,000-square-foot broadcast center on the Universal Studios lot, which boosted innovation and efficiency by bringing a wide range of operations into one facility.

Building on that experience, Mayzurk was then charged with radically rethinking the company’s operations with the design and build of the Telemundo Center in Miami. When it went live in 2019, the 500,000-square-foot facility featured an all IP-infrastructure that puts 13 studios and five production control rooms on one unified infrastructure capable of creating and processing over 4,000 hours of original production per year for sports, news, entertainment, scripted drama and digital.

“The scale of the facility and the collaboration and innovation that it creates between different parts of the business and our tech teams would have been impossible with traditional TV infrastructures,” Mayzurk said.

Neil Mazur
VP of Engineering & Operations, WAGA Atlanta

Neil Mazur, VP of engineering & operations, WAGA Atlanta

For some tech leaders like Neil Mazur, you quickly get the sense that technology isn’t just a tool for improving broadcasting. It’s also something they’ve loved all their lives.

“I was always fascinated by radio and broadcasting,” recalled Mazur, who earned his amateur radio license at the age of 13 and was working at a local AM radio station by 16.

After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Lafayette College, he landed a job at New York’s WNEW-TV (now Fox-owned WNYW), where he quickly impressed his bosses working on the night shift. “I was getting a lot of equipment repaired at night and after about a year, they asked me to join them as a manager.”

In 1990, he moved to KCAL Los Angeles, where he worked his way up to director of engineering in his last two years before taking the top engineering job at WAGA Atlanta. At the Fox-owned station, he’s earned a well-deserved reputation for building impressive tech teams and finding new ways to improve news operations. For example, two of his most recent directors of engineering have gone on to the top engineering job at other Fox-owned stations.

WAGA produces 70 hours a week of local news, with a relatively modest tech staff. “There are very few stations in the country that produce that amount of news,” Mazur said, crediting his tech teams with finding ways to operate extremely efficiently.

We have two people [on the tech and operations team] running our news shows in addition to a producer,” he noted. “There are still a lot of stations that claim to be automated that will have five or six people doing that.”

Notably, WAGA began experimenting with tethered drones in 2014 as part of a larger effort to use drones by Fox Television Stations and Fox News. In September 2016, WAGA’s Doug Evans and Mazur, who has a Federal Aviation Administration license to fly helicopters, got their Part 107 FAA license to fly drones.

Over time, the “Fox Flight Team” at the stations and Fox News have flown several thousand flights, including about 1,000 flights in the last half of 2019. “It has really allowed us to get footage and tell news stories that we wouldn’t have been able to any other way,” Mazur said.

Lisa Pedrogo
VP of NY Engineering & Strategic Initiatives, WarnerMedia Technology and Operations

Lisa Pedrogo, VP of NY engineering & strategic initiatives, WarnerMedia Technology and Operations

News organizations have been scrambling to meet consumer demand for more video on more platforms as the news cycle speeds up during the run-up to the 2020 elections.

That makes Lisa Pedrogo’s work overseeing the building of a new all-internet protocol (IP) facility for CNN at New York City’s Hudson Yards particularly notable. Election season can be a trying time for engineers, Pedrogo noted, because traditional infrastructures make it difficult for them to quickly launch new offerings or speed up the delivery of news to consumers.

“We constantly need to be able to respond to developments with products that look professional but don’t take six months of ordering and installing equipment,” she said. “Going all-IP [at Hudson Yards] enables us to do more of what we want to do as we make the transition from a hardware environment to a software environment where more and more of the equipment and infrastructure is going into the cloud.”

The Hudson Yards operation, with 110,000 square feet of technical space, went live in 2019 but its creation was built on years of innovation by the tech teams at CNN and Pedrogo’s long experience with building innovative news projects.

Pedrogo, who still remembers being blown away by a visit to a TV studio at age 4, readily admits that she’s always fascinated by the medium.

After studying communications at Hofstra University, she went to work as a production assistant at CNN’s business news network in 1989. There, she quickly picked up new skills and technologies, rising to director of operations at CNNfn in 1996.

When veteran business anchor Lou Dobbs left CNN, she followed him into the digital world to assist on the 1999 launch of Space.com. After gaining valuable experience at the e-commerce and video website, she then returned to CNN, where she played a key role in the construction of a number of innovative facilities. She was project manager for CNN’s Time Warner Center studio build in 2002, then the CNN HD network launch and the rebuilding of various bureaus. In 2008, she was put in charge of technical training programs.

Looking back, Pedrogo said she’s proud not only of the projects she has managed, but the teams that have built those facilities. “I’m not an engineer but I manage engineering teams,” she said. “In doing that, I’m most passionate about leading teams to their best … and most proud of my ability to handle change and to coach people through change.”

Blake Sabatinelli
CEO , Newsy

Blake Sabatinelli, CEO , Newsy

With all the controversies over fake and partisan news, Newsy CEO Blake Sabatinelli joins the 2020 award winners for the work his teams have done in finding innovative ways to deliver fact-based news over multiple platforms.

“I was always the kid who was trying to learn how to code,” Sabatinelli recalled, noting that he was building websites for people by age 15. After graduating from Florida Atlantic University, he worked as a software and web developer before taking a job as an online producer and editor for WFTS Tampa-St. Petersburg in 2007. After working his way up to executive producer of new media, he moved to WJLA Washington in 2012 and to E.W. Scripps as director of digital solutions in 2014. Sabatinelli was put in charge of Newsy in 2015, after it was acquired by Scripps.

By that time, Newsy had established a reputation for technical innovation. Launched in 2008 by media entrepreneur Jim Spencer in partnership with the University of Missouri, the streaming service focused on delivering news to mobile phones. It won accolades for its popular app and innovative production techniques for turning out news clips for its own service and a variety of clients, such as Time Inc.

Following the acquisition, Sabatinelli pushed to expand Newsy’s innovative product development efforts while strengthening its financial prospects. After seeing longer viewing times on Roku, he worked to beef up Newsy’s focus on streaming content to smart TV devices just as that market started to take off. Meanwhile, his tech teams deployed an innovative dynamic ad insertion platform to better monetize news streams. “It was the right bet and being a first mover in that space, along with CBSN, has been very helpful,” he said.

To further expand its reach, Newsy has launched a 24-hour cable channel while developing apps for a wide variety of streaming devices. “The opportunity to own a channel is an opportunity for us to be ubiquitous,” he said. “It is about being available for news consumers wherever they want to watch.”

Newsy also won kudos and awards for its long-form documentary programming and fact-based approach to the news. “You won’t see opinion hosts or pundits arguing with each other on Newsy,” Sabatinelli said. “You’ll see a reporter and video providing that information in a way that is meant to be informative and thought-provoking.”

Author: George Winslow
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:56 pm
President Donald Trump's 2021 budget may be looking to cut money for noncommercial and international media, but it doubles the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) budget for the development of artificial intelligence and quantum computing and makes other investments in a high-tech ...

President’s 2021 budget looks to cut money for noncommercial and international media

President Donald Trump's 2021 budget may be looking to cut money for noncommercial and international media, but it doubles the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) budget for the development of artificial intelligence and quantum computing and makes other investments in a high-tech future.

President Donald Trump

The budget proposes investing $2 billion in AI and another $860 million on quantum science over the next two years.

The National Institute of Science and Technology will get $718 million as part of the mission to make sure the U.S. leads in quantum computing and AI, including the interoperability of AI-enabled systems.

The budget, which Congress must approve, would also create an "advanced manufacturing institute" to ensure that tech innovations developed here are manufactured here, another Trump priority.

In addition, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the president’s chief spectrum policy adviser, would get $25 million toward spectrum management systems to “more efficiently" free up added spectrum for 5G wireless service. The NTIA oversees government spectrum users.

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:55 pm
We know representation in media matters. In Horowitz’s latest State of Consumer Engagement 2019 study, more than half (55%) of multicultural consumers said it would have a positive impact on their intent to purchase from a company if it featured people of their race/ethnicity in their advertising, ...

As the U.S. grows more diverse, advertisers must become culturally attuned to ‘colorism’

We know representation in media matters. In Horowitz’s latest State of Consumer Engagement 2019 study, more than half (55%) of multicultural consumers said it would have a positive impact on their intent to purchase from a company if it featured people of their race/ethnicity in their advertising, and six in 10 (57%) said it would have a positive impact if a company’s ads represented their culture or lifestyle.

Census 2020 will begin in just a few short weeks, on April 1. Even before the numbers start rolling in, there’s one census finding that won’t be a surprise: The U.S. population is becoming even more multicultural and less white than ever before. This means it is more important than ever for the media industry and its advertisers to learn how to connect with American audiences in more nuanced, sophisticated and culturally attuned ways.

But executing nuanced, sophisticated and culturally attuned media and creative is not as straightforward as it seems.

High-profile faux pas by companies like Dove, Nivea, H&M, Gucci and others underscore the damage that a racially insensitive creative decision can do to a brand. On the other hand, companies like Nike, Xfinity, Google, Apple, P&G and Coca-Cola have shown by example that great, inclusive, culturally resonant creative can deliver on multiple fronts, including creating goodwill, helping shift negative perceptions and adding to a company’s bottom line.

As the diversity and representation conversation evolves, one issue that looms large is colorism. Colorism — the practice of favoring lighter-skinned people of color over those who are darker-skinned — is rampant across all forms of media, especially when casting people of color in general market content and advertising.

On many levels, colorism is problematic. It is also not that effective. Horowitz has begun analyzing survey data based on skin tone (self-assessed based on an image) to better understand the impact of colorism on consumers. Horowitz’s recent State of Consumer Engagement 2019 study reveals that blacks with darker skin are more likely to feel that the advertising industry ignores them (36% vs. 25% of medium-skinned), but more likely to say that when they see African-Americans in a company's advertising, it makes them feel like the company cares about them (43% vs. 26% of medium-skinned). In other words, darker-skinned black consumers are more likely to feel that the ad industry ignores them compared to their lighter-skinned counterparts — but are more likely to react positively to representation.

The rationale for casting lighter-skinned, less ethnic-looking talent is often justified by pragmatism. Some might think that casting racially ambiguous talent could do double duty by checking off more than one diversity box. But is it really pragmatism at play in deciding to cast lighter-skinned people, or something else? To answer that question, we must unpack and contextualize societal notions of race and color.

Cultural anthropologists and biologists have long asserted that there is, in fact, no such thing as race. The classification of people into categories based on skin tone is a societal structure, not a biological one. Indeed, skin tones exist on a spectrum.

The binary classification of people into racialized classifications by skin color has been used to justify granting rights and privileges to some, while denying them from others. Positive traits and characteristics were generally assigned to lighter-skinned “races,” while negative ones were generally assigned to those with darker skin, all without biological justification.

Legal and institutional structures were built around these racialized classifications which, in turn, perpetuated those underlying biases for whiteness and against darkness. There were (and still are) many examples of structural discrimination. Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation and discrimination in the South from the end of the Reconstruction era until well into the 1950s. The Federal Housing Authority enacted policies that redlined African-American neighborhoods, precluding blacks from getting FHAbacked mortgages from the 1930s until the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. Blacks were systemically barred from institutions of higher education, leading to numerous lawsuits. Stop and frisk and other racial-profiling-based policing policies are still widely implemented today.

Moreover, representations of attractiveness and beauty in the arts reinforced the idea that whiteness and all the features and traits assigned to it were superior and more desirable to darkness and its associated features and traits. Indeed, blackness was often “whitewashed” or rendered invisible in the arts. Given all the privileges of whiteness, colorism even took root within many racial and ethnic groups themselves, with lighter skin symbolizing higher social status and being deemed more desirable. Some who could chose to “pass” for white.

Unpacking Biases

The racialized classification of people is so enmeshed in the fabric of American society that many of us unwittingly help perpetuate it. This is known as implicit bias: the unconscious preference for people with lighter skin over people with darker skin. This permeates virtually all aspects of American life, including media and advertising.

People of color — especially young people of color — are realizing their social, political, economic and cultural empowerment. They are flexing their economic muscle to support brands that are committed to them: Six in 10 African-American (61%) and Hispanic (61%) consumers say they are more likely to patronize companies that embrace and support their community. They are also pushing back against all forms of racism — implicit or otherwise. This includes calling out colorism in all its manifestations.

As we move into 2020, brands’ success hinges on connecting with America’s increasingly diverse general market and in order to connect, brands must step it up. Playing it safe is not going to cut it anymore.

Author: Adriana Waterston
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:50 pm
Frontline, the investigative series on PBS, takes a big swing when Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos premieres Feb. 18. Airing Tuesdays, Frontline episodes typically run 60 to 90 minutes, but Amazon Empire goes for nearly two hours. Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of Frontline, ...

‘Frontline’ film digs deep into company’s founder

Frontline, the investigative series on PBS, takes a big swing when Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos premieres Feb. 18. Airing Tuesdays, Frontline episodes typically run 60 to 90 minutes, but Amazon Empire goes for nearly two hours. Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of Frontline, said the film offers a fresh perspective on Amazon. “We are really able to understand, from a company perspective, where Amazon is today,” she said, “and where it is going to be tomorrow.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Based at WGBH Boston, Frontline debuted in 1983. Recent specials that stood out include For Sama, a look at a baby girl in Aleppo, Syria, and On the President’s Orders, about the war on drugs staged by Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines. “For nearly 40 years, Frontline has represented the gold standard in investigative journalism,” Perry Simon, PBS chief programming executive, said.

Frontline is undeniably on a hot streak. In 2018, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail was nominated for a best documentary feature Academy Award. For Sama was in the running at the Oscars earlier this month. “It was truly one of the most moving documentaries I’ve ever seen,” Simon said.

Aronson-Rath described Frontline films as “well-told stories with very well-vetted, factual and fair journalism.”

‘Prime’ Time

Amazon Empire depicts Bezos as a young man, working on Wall Street and studying the nascent internet, then launching Amazon as an online book seller in 1995 and growing it into the retail colossus we intimately know today. The film also looks at Bezos’s ambitious plans for space travel.

Amazon Empire acknowledges Bezos as a brilliant entrepreneur, but also wonders how the company has affected the global retail landscape and if it treats its fulfillment center staffers fairly. “There are very serious questions at the heart of the film,” Aronson-Rath said. “They all deserve fair journalistic treatment.”

Bezos declined to be interviewed for the documentary, but does make several high-level employees available. “Amazon gave us extraordinary access to its top-level executives,” said Aronson-Rath.

She likened the project to Frontline’s 2018 film The Facebook Dilemma, an examination of the social platform and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and their impact on society. Frontline producer James Jacoby does the bulk of the interview work in Amazon Empire. The film took a year to produce.

“An investigation of this type really needs the time to get it right,” said Aronson-Rath.

A few years ago, PBS set out to make its biggest films available for theatrical viewing, getting a few into high-profile film festivals. “It’s something we increasingly work with our partners in PBS Distribution to do,” said Simon.

For Sama was in theaters, but Amazon Empire will not be. The thinking at PBS is, Amazon Empire should reach as many viewers as possible, and should do so right away. “We needed to get this out to the biggest audience right now,” Aronson-Rath said.

Toward that end, PBS is making Amazon Empire available for streaming simultaneous to its on-air debut. The film will also be available on YouTube.

One of the main takeaways of the documentary for Aronson-Roth is just how much data Amazon is compiling on its users, and how their privacy is balanced out as users share the room with Alexa. “It’s good to be a thinking consumer,” Aronson-Rath said.

‘The Choice’ is Yours

After Amazon Empire airs, Frontline film NRA Under Fire premieres in March. Further out is The Choice, which will offer investigative deep dives into President Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee for the presidency. “It’s our biggest hit every four years,” said Aronson-Rath.

Jon Klein, chairman of Tapp Media and former CNN U.S. president, calls himself a “huge fan” of Frontline. “They tackle many of the stories no one else will touch, and many stories people have touched but they go way deeper,” he said. “They have a fraction of the budget of 60 Minutes, yet their stories are often more probing and more impactful.”

Simon said Frontline stories stand out for their unflinching investigative work, and the innovative way the films are delivered to viewers. Aronson-Rath echoed that sentiment. “We are filmmakers and journalists,” she said.

Author: Michael Malone
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:46 pm
Fox Sports and ESPN hope their unprecedented joint marketing and promotional efforts for Saturday’s Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight boxing rematch will deliver a major pay-per-view performance punch. Fox Sports and Premier Boxing Champions promote Wilder, and ESPN and Top Rank represent Fury. ...

Sports programmers put promo heft behind PPV heavyweight title fight

Fox Sports and ESPN hope their unprecedented joint marketing and promotional efforts for Saturday’s Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight boxing rematch will deliver a major pay-per-view performance punch.

Deontay Wilder (l.) and Tyson Fury at a Los Angeles press conference to promote their Feb. 22 pay-per-view fight, co-promoted by ESPN and Fox Sports.

Fox Sports and Premier Boxing Champions promote Wilder, and ESPN and Top Rank represent Fury. Together, they’ve rolled out a massive marketing campaign for the Feb. 22 fight that started with spots in ESPN’s Jan. 13 LSU-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game telecast and included ads in Fox’s Feb. 2 Super Bowl LIV telecast.

“This has been a remarkable effort by many different stakeholders, both internally and externally,” said Matt Kenny, ESPN’s VP of programming for combat sports. “The Fox Sports team has been a great partner and it’s been very rewarding to see all the contributions from so many people.”

Fox Sports executive VP and head of programming and scheduling Bill Wanger said the magnitude of the fight brought both Fox Sports and ESPN together as promotional partners, and the ad push is reaching viewers. Fox Sports reported that its Wilder-Fury Super Bowl promo spot was seen by more than 105 million viewers.

Overall, Wanger said, Fox Sports has produced more than 10 hours of original programming around the fight, including a four-part docuseries dubbed Inside Wilder-Fury II and a fight countdown show currently in rotation on ESPN and Fox Sports platforms.

ESPN has also created several originals around Wilder-Fury II, including Ring Science, which is streaming on ESPN+.

“It’s really an unprecedented amount of promotion and level of cooperation among the two main media sports companies,” Wanger said.

The Wilder-Fury fight is the second between the two undefeated heavyweights; their 2018 bout ended in a controversial draw. That PPV event, distributed by Showtime, generated a reported 325,000 buys.

On fight night for Wilder-Fury II, a combined ESPN and Fox Sports on-air crew will describe the action. ESPN commentators Lennox Lewis and Andre Ward will join ESPN blow-by-blow announcer Joe Tessitore for ringside commentary, while Fox Sports commentators Timothy Bradley and Shawn Porter, former welterweight champions, will join ESPN’s Max Kellerman and Fox Sports’s Brian Kenny for live analysis.

ESPN and Fox Sports hope their collaborative on-air and promotional efforts will drive enough PPV buys from hard-core boxing aficionados and casual sports fans to reach the industry-standard 1 million buy mark.

Pushing for 1M Buys

“I think a million buys is reasonable given everything that’s being put behind it,” said sports consultant Lee Berke. “You have two strong, popular fighters. It's a throwback in a sense in that heavyweights have not been that popular on PPV lately. You have two media powerhouses promoting the hell out of it. And it's scheduled during a lull in sports between the end of football and beginning of the NCAA college basketball tournament and baseball. I think it will do well.”

Wanger would not project how many buys the fight would generate, but said he’s excited about its PPV potential. “The buys will be what the buys are,” he said.

While the fight marks the first PPV boxing co-promotion for Fox Sports and ESPN, similar recent team-ups have proven successful. Showtime and the UFC combined resources in 2017 to promote the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, which drew 4.3 million PPV buys. That fight’s PPV performance was second only to the 4.6 million PPV buys generated by the 2015 Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, co-promoted by HBO and Showtime.

This week, both ESPN and Fox Sports will ramp up marketing for the fight. On Wednesday FS1 and ESPN2 will simulcast the final fight press conference as well as Friday’s weigh-in. ESPN and Fox Sports studio shows will originate from Las Vegas, including FS1’s Speak for Yourself and ESPN’s First Take.

“This will raise awareness for one of the most anticipated heavyweight fights in a number of decades,” Wanger said. “We’re pulling out the stops.”

Along with traditional PPV carriage through In Demand, DirecTV and Dish Network, both Fox Sports PPV — which includes foxsports.com and the Fox Sports App — and ESPN+ PPV will stream the fight, which retails for a suggested $79.99, said representatives from both parties. ESPN’s Kenny said he would not rule out future marketing partnerships with Fox Sports on major PPV boxing events.

“ESPN is laser-focused on serving sports fans and should a collaborative approach with a partner like Fox Sports help stage, promote and produce the biggest fights, we are certainly open to exploring those opportunities,” he said.

Author: R. Thomas Umstead
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:43 pm
Thriller drama Hunters looks at a diverse band of New Yorkers hunting down Nazis in ’70s New York City. The Hunters have learned about hundreds of high-ranking Nazis in the metropolitan area, and set out to bring them to justice. Al Pacino plays Meyer Offerman, a Holocaust survivor who oversees the ...

Friday, Feb. 21, Amazon Prime Video

Thriller drama Hunters looks at a diverse band of New Yorkers hunting down Nazis in ’70s New York City. The Hunters have learned about hundreds of high-ranking Nazis in the metropolitan area, and set out to bring them to justice.

Al Pacino plays Meyer Offerman, a Holocaust survivor who oversees the Hunters. It’s a unique role for Pacino, playing Offerman with a thick accent and devouring most every scene he’s in. He doesn’t appear in the pilot until 23 minutes in, but makes his mark on it in a way that few other actors can.

Offerman is something of a mentor to Jonah, a young Brooklyn man whose grandmother is murdered. Logan Lerman plays Jonah, and handles the juicy role with verve, holding his own in his taut scenes with Pacino. After Jonah’s grandmother is killed, Offerman, an old friend of the woman’s, quotes the Talmud, telling Jonah that living well is the best revenge.

Once Jonah learns of the Hunters and their ambitions, Offerman recasts the quote. “Know what the best revenge is?” the gentleman assassin asks. “Revenge.”

The pilot, running a feature-length 90 minutes, is titled “The Belly of the Whale.” The producers, including creator David Weil and Jordan Peele, deliver a convincing rendering of America — New York, suburban Washington — in 1977. There are Dodge Darts, bottles of Schlitz, Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and pictures of Farrah Fawcett to bring the viewer back in time. Flashbacks, to Holocaust happenings in the early ’40s, at times make Hunters a period piece within a period piece.

Hunters offers compelling secondary stories, including Grey’s Anatomy’s Jerrika Hinton as an FBI agent, looking into the murder of a female NASA veteran in Florida, and a brutal Nazi thug doing the dirty work for a Washington insider. Hunters offers a succulent idea, and bravura performances by Pacino, Lerman and Hinton immediately get their hooks into viewers. The pilot offers plenty of thrills, and one may never look at a chess set in quite the same way after watching. 

Author: Michael Malone
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:43 pm
Pacino In for Nazi Hunt on Amazon If you really need another sign that the golden era of TV is here, how about Al Pacino signing on to be in a series? Yes, Pacino stars in Hunters, which premieres on Amazon Feb. 21. David Weil created the show and Jordan Peele executive produces. Hunters follows a ...

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene

Pacino In for Nazi Hunt on Amazon

Al Pacino (left) and Logan Lerman star in Amazon's "Hunters". 

If you really need another sign that the golden era of TV is here, how about Al Pacino signing on to be in a series? Yes, Pacino stars in Hunters, which premieres on Amazon Feb. 21. David Weil created the show and Jordan Peele executive produces.

Hunters follows a band of Nazi hunters living in 1977 New York. They’ve discovered that hundreds of high-ranking Nazis are living in the area and conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the U.S., and set out to bring the Nazis to justice.

“Al’s agent read the script, and said, ‘I think there’s something in this character that Al will really respond to,’ ” said Weil.

There were four meetings. Pacino eyeballed all 10 scripts, weighed in on the character, and the story, and he was in. “It was an incredible process,” said Weil. “It’s an absolute dream.”

The idea for the series came from Weil’s talks with his grandmother Sara, a Holocaust survivor. Amidst the tragedy, bits of her stories “sounded like the stuff of comic books and superheroes,” he said.

Weil was eager to put those tales of heroism on screen. “As we move into the next generation, it falls on us to tell their story,” he said.

Weil also liked the idea of showing Jewish people as more than nebbishes. “I wanted Jews to be portrayed with strength and might and power,” he said.

‘Saul’ Signs Off on Jimmy McGill

From left: Sewell Whitney, Patrick Fabian and Bob Odenkirk in AMC's "Better Call Saul".

Season five of Better Call Saul starts up on AMC February 23. The season sees Jimmy McGill, played by Bob Odenkirk, transitioning to Saul Goodman. Better Call Saul inches closer to its forebear, Breaking Bad.

“There’s a lot for Breaking Bad fans to enjoy — it’s racing toward that timeline,” said Melissa Bernstein, executive producer. “You’ll see Jimmy embracing that new identity, and see new business opportunities from exploiting that identity.”

Plenty of Saul viewers never watched Breaking Bad, said Bernstein, who said women seem to be drawn to the relationship between Jimmy and Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler.

Both series are character studies, according to Bernstein, and McGill is a bit more relatable than Breaking Bad protagonist Walter White. “Jimmy offers a little more room for people to connect,” she said. “Jimmy is a naturally optimistic person, naturally upbeat and fun to be around.”

Walter White? “More grim,” she said.

Bernstein promised a closer look at Kim this season. “Viewers will understand more about her back story,” she said.

Season five pays a visit to Omaha, where McGill’s “Gene Takavic” ran that Cinnabon. But it remains shot in Albuquerque. “The folks in Albuquerque are amazingly supportive,” said Bernstein. “I think they feel like they’re part of our team, and we feel like that too.”

Author: Michael Malone
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:38 pm
Iowa is, of course, the first state to weigh in on the presidential candidates, and it’s a role its residents hold in high regard. As the leading Democratic hopefuls, including Joseph Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, traipsed around the state ahead of the Feb. 3 party ...

Iowa kicks off presidential derby, and the stations in state capital are on it

Iowa is, of course, the first state to weigh in on the presidential candidates, and it’s a role its residents hold in high regard. As the leading Democratic hopefuls, including Joseph Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, traipsed around the state ahead of the Feb. 3 party caucuses, the stations in the Iowa capital were there to cover them. And when caucus confusion enveloped the market the next day, the Des Moines stations were all over it.

KCCI and other Des Moines stations go big for the Iowa Caucuses. Here, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaks with KCCI’s Stacey Horst (l.) and Steve Karlin.

KCCI has the specials series Commitment 2020: The Undecideds. The station has done six specials under this title, each one featuring one of the Democratic candidates facing questions from the people of Iowa. “We want to get at the issues that matter to real Iowans,” said Brian Sather, KCCI president and general manager.

Dave Price is WHO’s political director, and hosts Sunday morning program The Insiders. “We’ve put a tremendous amount of resources behind political,” said Bobby Totsch, WHO VP and general manager.

Hearst TV owns KCCI, a CBS affiliate. That station is in a tight ratings race with Nexstar Media Group’s NBC-aligned WHO. “We win households and total viewers, and it’s clearly a competitive market in demos,” Sather said. “It’s a two-horse race and you have to bring your A game every day.”

More Local News: WHO to Launch 'Hello Iowa' in September

Other horses in Des Moines-Ames are Tegna’s ABC affiliate WOI and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Fox outlet KDSM. Tegna also owns CW affiliate KCWI. MyNetwork-TV runs along with H&I (Heroes & Icons) on a KCCI subchannel. Mediacom is the primary subscription TV operator in DMA No. 68.

Nexstar picked up WHO in its Tribune Media acquisition. Totsch took over as VP/general manager in Des Moines in late September. He said Nexstar is investing, including a “state-of-the-art set” that blows away the antiquated one, in Totsch’s words, that WHO used to have.

WHO moved its weekday news up a half hour to 4:30 a.m. in November, and will debut a lifestyle show in September. “We have the most local programming by far of any station in the market,” said Totsch, whose previous posts included general manager at WPMI Mobile and at KCTV Kansas City.

Steve Rohrer is the VP/general manager of KDSM. WHO produces the 9 p.m. nightly news for the Fox affiliate. KDSM’s diginets include Sinclair-owned Stadium, Charge! and TBD. As Sather suggested, the ratings race is between two horses. For 2019 through November, KCCI won the household race at 6 a.m. and KCCI and WHO split the 25-54 contest. At 5 and 6 p.m., KCCI won households and 25-54. At 10 p.m., KCCI did a 10.6 in households, ahead of WHO’s 7.1. WHO got a 4.0 in viewers 25-54, ahead of KCCI’s 3.2.

KCCI won prime households easily in 2019, while the 25-54 race was much closer.

Totsch called Des Moines “a bit of an old-school type Midwestern market,” where people still watch lots of local TV and listen to local radio. (Nexstar sold news radio station WHO.) He described the city as clean and family friendly. “A secret gem, I think,” Totsch added.

The market quieted down once the caucus results, delayed by a software issue, were finally revealed. But in a growth market, things keep humming. People in Des Moines quip that the official bird of the city is the crane. “There are a lot of them,” Sather said. “There’s a lot of growth.” 

Author: Michael Malone
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:35 pm
WHO will premiere lifestyle show Hello Iowa in mid-September. The show will go in the 11 a.m.-noon weekday slot. Hello Iowa will focus on health and wellness, food and cooking, entertainment, local events, a bit of news and maybe a celebrity interview now and then. “Nexstar continues its focus on ...

Show to air in 11 a.m. weekday slot

WHO will premiere lifestyle show Hello Iowa in mid-September. The show will go in the 11 a.m.-noon weekday slot. Hello Iowa will focus on health and wellness, food and cooking, entertainment, local events, a bit of news and maybe a celebrity interview now and then.

WHO's Megan Reuther

“Nexstar continues its focus on driving more locally originated content and programming,” said Bobby Totsch, WHO VP and general manager. “Hello Iowa will be a nice addition for us.”

Megan Reuther will be the host. Totsch calls the veteran anchor “a perfect fit” for the role.

Totsch has overseen daytime lifestyle program launches in other markets multiple times in his career. He said Hello Iowa will have “marketing opportunities available” for local vendors.

Hello Iowa will be the first lifestyle show of its kind on any network affiliate in the Des Moines market,” he said.

More Local News: All Eyes on Des Moines

Author: Michael Malone
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:32 pm
On Monday, Feb. 17, ABC relaunched its multicast network formerly known as Live Well as Localish, taking advantage of reams of digital-first content that its owned stations have been producing at the local level for some 18 months. “In terms of the inspiration for Localish, we originally created it ...

Station group converts locally produced, positive content into national network

On Monday, Feb. 17, ABC relaunched its multicast network formerly known as Live Well as Localish, taking advantage of reams of digital-first content that its owned stations have been producing at the local level for some 18 months.

The Localish network focuses on feel-good stories like a pair of New York sisters who met for the first time a few years ago—but that didn't stop them from going into business together, starting Brooklyn Nail Company.

“In terms of the inspiration for Localish, we originally created it for a number of very simple reasons: we wanted to reflect and serve the communities we call home,” Wendy McMahon, president, ABC Owned Television Stations, said. “While the ABC Television Stations are best in class in terms of breaking news and covering big stories, we thought we weren’t capturing as many of the positive stories in our our communities, so we thought about how we could intentionally bring good stories about people, places and things into our brand offerings.” That results in stories told from the perspective of locals. For example, a recent story showcased a Los Angeles bar that created custom cockt

ils to reflect some of this year’s Oscar-nominated movies, and another revealed how a Port Washington, New York-based cheesemonger teaches people to make cheese. In both stories, the subject narrates the action, whether it’s shaking a cocktail or pulling fresh mozzarella.

“One of the things we wanted to do with Localish is create a space where we could experiment with next-generation storytelling,” McMahon said. “It feels different than our traditionally produced content. This new way of producing places subjects at the forefront of stories. It feels different than the traditional anchor voiceover.”

Enhancing Local Newscasts

That change in producing style also has trickled up to the stations themselves, allowing them to start injecting digital-first storytelling into local newscasts.

Up to this point, Localish content lived in several places: online at the ABC Television Stations’ websites, in the owned stations’ apps, and sometimes in the stations’ daily newscasts. This new effort takes those stories and repackages them into half-hour programs for the new Localish network.

“We have created more than 1,000 short-form videos and those allow us to create strong half-hour shows where we can stack content based on the most viral and engaging pieces,” said Localish executive producer Michael Koenigs, who also hosts two shows on the new network. Some of these pieces have been seen more than 20 million times across social media, he said.

The network is debuting with 10 original programs, with titles such as More In Common, featuring inspiring stories of Americans coming together despite their differences; Out of Office, revealing locals’ favorite vacation spots; Glam Lab, discovering the latest trends in beauty and self-care; and Secretly Awesome, which doubles as a branded-content play sponsored by Hiscox Insurance.

Many of the ABC-owned TV stations also produce their own local shows, which are branded as Localish LA or Localish Bay Area, for example, said Jennifer Mitchell, senior vice president, content development, ABC Owned Television Stations: “We are looking to do that in all eight of our markets.”

In general, the network plans to add more shows as it progresses. “We’ll expand to more as we go forward without a doubt,” Koenigs said. “The hits will expand and we’ll seed new formats each season.”

“We try to find the universal in the local,” Koenigs said. “We’re about finding the light at the end of the tunnel; we’re less about dwelling in the problem. That’s one of the reasons this content resonates — it’s a divisive time and people are eager for that story that gives them a little confidence in their fellow man and their world. People generally feel more positively about their local communities than they do about the world at large.”

Friendly to Ad Formats

Due to that positive perspective, Localish appeals to both ABC’s local and national advertisers. It also will carry direct-response advertising (ads that include a 1-800 number to call for more information or to place an order), which is a standard type of advertising offered by multicast networks.

As intended, Localish’s short-form content does very well across social media, with people grabbing videos and sharing them across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Localish as an initiative has helped drive ABC Television Stations’ social traffic. As a result, the owned TV stations had as many social engagements from October 2019 through January 2020 — 71 million — as The New York Times and The Washington Post combined, with 44 million and 27 million, respectively, according to Shareablee.

While some content is being packaged into shows for the new network, Localish also will continue to exist as it does now, with local content produced for station websites, apps and newscasts.

“We are multiplatform brands,” McMahon said. “It is always through that lens that we consider how we can bring this content to life and use it to connect with audiences and advertisers.”

Author: Paige Albiniak
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:27 pm
Aldermaston, UK, 17 February 2020 - GB Labs, innovators of powerful and intelligent media storage solutions for the media and entertainment industries, today confirmed that the specialist video production company, Kingdom Creative Studios, has installed GB Labs’ FastNAS F-16 Nitro storage system. ...

GB Labs, innovators of powerful and intelligent media storage solutions for the media and entertainment industries, today confirmed that the specialist video production company, Kingdom Creative Studios, has installed GB Labs’ FastNAS F-16 Nitro storage system.

Aldermaston, UK, 17 February 2020 - GB Labs, innovators of powerful and intelligent media storage solutions for the media and entertainment industries, today confirmed that the specialist video production company, Kingdom Creative Studios, has installed GB Labs’ FastNAS F-16 Nitro storage system.

Kingdom Creative founder and Managing Director, Simon Harrison, said, “Our talented in-house team works closely with major brands­ - primarily in automotive but rapidly expanding into new markets - to deliver powerful video content tailored to engage audiences on every platform, from television to social media.

“However, our expansion, coupled with the advent of 4K, multi-cam shoots and the increasing demand for rapid turnaround, meant that we reached the practical limits of what our existing storage system could do. We had to find a better way to manage and operate storage.”

For the majority of its existence, Kingdom Creative had relied on what many still rely on today, i.e., storing video content on individual drives, backing them up, and walking them up and down corridors or transferring them via couriers.

“As we began taking on larger and more complicated projects,” said Kingdom Creative Head of Creative Technology Ben Treston, “especially when collaboration between editors became important, it turned out that the old methods were no longer viable. Today, we have multiple editors working on many pieces of content from the same project. You can’t share individual hard drives and meet today’s expectations for speed and reliability in those types of scenarios.”

The FastNAS F-16 Nitro system meets those objectives for speed, reliability and value in shared storage. Unlike other NAS products on the market, FastNAS is purpose built to sustain heavy workloads and provide stable and reliable performance, based on best of breed technology exclusively developed in-house, and is comprised of a high-performance unit with unique hybrid disk technology, powered by GB Labs’ proprietary CORE OS.

GB Labs CEO-CTO Dominic Harland said, “Kingdom Creative emerged from a motorsport world built for speed, and that’s what modern shared storage has been engineered to deal with. FastNAS F-16 Nitro easily accommodates the need for speed – and safety – when dealing with fast turnarounds and sharp bends.”

###


About GB Labs:
GB Labs is the global leader in Intelligent Media Storage, creating a shared storage ecosystem for the media industry. By understanding real-world industry problems, cutting-edge technologies have been developed for the unique "CORE" software that fulfils end users’ needs. Regardless of where the production is being filmed, how big the team is or the size of budget, GB Labs can provide a solution to ensure deadlines are met and throughout the whole process, content is secure.

Find out more at: www.gblabs.com or call: EUROPE (+44) (0)118 455 5000 or USA (+1) 661 493 8480.

Company Contact
Matt Worth
GB Labs Limited
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +44 (0)118 455 5012

Media contact
Kara Myhill
Manor Marketing
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +44 (0) 789 9977222

Author: Wire Contributor
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:26 pm
Not long ago, cutting commercials seemed like a good idea. A few years back, advertising dollars were migrating to digital and viewers were just starting to stream video and cut the cord that connected them to cable networks. Fox, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia’s Turner networks and Viacom were among ...

Among big groups, only NBCU cut the clutter in Q4

Not long ago, cutting commercials seemed like a good idea.

A few years back, advertising dollars were migrating to digital and viewers were just starting to stream video and cut the cord that connected them to cable networks.

Fox, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia’s Turner networks and Viacom were among the major programmers that unveiled plans to reduce commercial clutter, a move that was seen as making traditional TV more attractive to viewers and more effective for advertisers.

New data compiled by MoffettNathanson Research senior analyst Michael Nathanson has found that for the fourth quarter of 2019, total day commercial loads rose 1.3% to 12.7 minutes per hour.

Ad loads had been flat during the third quarter, according to Nathanson. “This is the first quarter where the growth in aggregate cable commercial minutes per hour accelerated since early 2018 as cable networks try to help offset the linear ratings challenges,” he said in a research report. “Increased ad loads will likely only push more viewers to on-demand viewing for entertainment content.”

The linear ratings challenge Nathanson refers to are the 8% drop in C3 commercial ratings for broadcast and 14% slide for cable in primetime during the period. Fox was the only broadcaster to post a C3 ratings gain. All of the cable network groups were down, with AMC Networks posting the biggest drop at 22%.

Minutes Down, Sales Up

Comcast’s NBCU unit, a major proponent of reducing commercial clutter under ad-sales chairman Linda Yaccarino, was the only programmer with fewer ad minutes per hour. NBCU networks ran 11.8 commercial minutes per hour, down 1.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018.

At the same time, Nathanson notes that NBCU’s cable networks earlier this month reported that cable network ad revenues were up 2% to $886 million.

At the Peacock investor day, NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino said the streamer would limit ad loads to five minutes per hour.

Not coincidentally, when NBCU provided details about its upcoming ad-supported streaming service Peacock in January, Yaccarino crowed that it will have no more than five commercial minutes per hour.

A+E Networks-owned channels were flat, but their 13.7 commercial minutes per hour was the highest on cable.

All of the other cable programmers showed upticks in commercial loads. The biggest increase was registered by AT&T’s Turner networks, where commercial minutes jumped 3.7% to 12.7 minutes per hour.

Ad minutes on Discovery’s networks rose 3.2% to 12.1 per hour, the second-biggest hike. The Walt Disney Co.’s channels registered a 2.2% increase, leaving them at 11.2 minutes per hour.

Ad loads were up 1.3% and 1.2% at Fox and AMC Networks, respectively, and ViacomCBS registered a relatively small increase of 0.6%, but its minutes per hour average stands at a hefty 13.4 for total day. ViacomCBS in the past has said it was taking measures to reduce ad loads during primetime in particular.

The ad clutter is a symptom of a national TV ad market where flat appears to be the new up, according to Nathanson.

For the fourth quarter, Nathanson projected that national TV advertising will finish up 0.4% at $10.7 billion. Broadcast networks will be down 0.5% with CBS doing the best with a 2% increase and ABC and NBC each down 1.5%.

Cable advertising is expected to show a 1.2% increase, led by ViacomCBS’s 2.8% gain, which was bolstered by the addition of streaming service Pluto TV. AMC Networks is expected to drop 6.5%.

Author: Jon Lafayette
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:26 pm
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took to social media in September 2018 to detail a dream he had about creating a platform for people to showcase their best athletic self, but which needed the “perfect” partner to turn the dream into reality. “That partner is Arthur Smith,” Johnson declared in the post. ...

‘B+C’s’ prolific Producer of the Year creates content that makes audiences feel

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took to social media in September 2018 to detail a dream he had about creating a platform for people to showcase their best athletic self, but which needed the “perfect” partner to turn the dream into reality.

Arthur Smith

“That partner is Arthur Smith,” Johnson declared in the post. Johnson’s dream platform turned into The Titan Games, NBC’s successful freshman competition series that the former WWE star launched in 2019 with Smith, the founder of production company A. Smith & Co. (ASC) and chairman of ASC parent company Tinopolis USA.

Titan Games, in which everyday people compete in endurance-based mental and physical challenges, is one of more than 180 reality, unscripted and documentary series produced under the tutelage of Smith and his ASC banner since the company launched 20 years ago. Several of his shows, including Fox’s culinary cookoff Hell’s Kitchen and NBC’s obstacle course-based series American Ninja Warrior, helped define the genre of competition-based reality shows.

“Arthur understands that great storytelling requires ultimate dedication and an unrelenting desire for excellence,” said Meredith Ahr, NBC Entertainment president of the alternative & reality group. “When I am working with Arthur, whether it is on American Ninja Warrior or The Titan Games, I am keenly aware that I am dealing with a producer who thinks big, wants to win, and will put in the daily reps to ensure that every detail of the production is first class and a reflection of our collective ambition.”

Arthur Smith and A-lister Dwayne ”The Rock“ Johnson joined forces for NBC’s reality competition series The Titan Games.

From long-running shows like TV One’s documentary music series Unsung to new series like TLC’s off-the-grid reality show Welcome to Plathville and streaming service BET+’s docuseries American Gangster: Trap Queens, the Canadian-born Smith is known for his ability to create successful unscripted content that entertains viewers while bringing out the best qualities of the world-class talent and everyday people who participate in his shows.

“Arthur Smith and his team really understand how to make great television,” said Jason Ryan, executive producer in charge of production for Unsung, which Smith has produced since its debut in 2008. “People know TV One for Unsung [and Smith’s] knowledge and passion for the show has really made the show special.”

Mike Darnell, president of unscripted and alternative television at Warner Bros., who worked with Smith on a number of projects including Hell’s Kitchen, said Smith has the uncanny ability to turn the simplest of ideas into a successful production.

“He’s an extraordinarily talented and driven producer,” Darnell said. “He’s unbelievably collaborative. Over the years, if I had an idea or a nugget of a concept, I’d go to Arthur and he would take it and make it work in a way that very few producers can.”

Chef Gordon Ramsay and contestant Ariel in Fox's "Hell's Kitchen".

Smith cut his production teeth in the sports production at Canada’s CBC, where he produced the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, and with Fox Sports in the late 1990s, helping to launch the company’s first regional sports networks. In between his sports producing stints, Smith got his first taste of the entertainment business as senior VP of Dick Clark Productions in 1990.

“Coming from such an unconventional and atypical background in sports has allowed him to approach more entertainment programming in a slightly different way,” said Brandon Riegg, Netflix VP of unscripted originals and acquisitions, who has worked with Smith on Death by Magic as well as two other yet-to-be announced shows.

While his passion is for producing shows, Smith is equally comfortable in the C-suite as chairman of Tinopolis USA — which bought A. Smith & Co. in 2011 — where he oversees a portfolio of Emmy-nominated content from such companies as Magical Elves. Under Smith’s leadership, Elves and ASC combined for three of the six 2019 primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Reality Competition series: Elves’s Top Chef and Nailed It! and ASC’s American Ninja Warrior. Smith is also comfortable with top talent. He has collaborated with such celebrities as Ellen DeGeneres, who will host Ellen’s Home Design Challenge for HBO Max; actor Rob Lowe, host of Fox’s unscripted series Mental Samurai; and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, host of Hell’s Kitchen.

Arthur Smith’s quick rapport with chef Gordon Ramsay was a key ingredient in the success of "Hell’s Kitchen".

“He’s great with talent,” Darnell said. “When I first brought Gordon Ramsay out here, he had never done an American television show, and Arthur and him got along amazingly. I also think that he’s a very fast learner. He’s terrific at taking a concept and making it into a reality.”

Johnson in his Instagram post also showered Smith with praise, saying that while “my big head may be in front of the camera, this man [Smith] is the magic maker.”

Smith’s prolific TV series production accomplishments along with his infectious enthusiasm and passion for producing has earned Smith and his company, A. Smith & Co., B+C’s Producer of the Year award for 2020. Smith spoke with B+C senior content producer R. Thomas Umstead about his company’s 20-year run of success, as well as his vision for the future. Here’s an edited transcript of their conversation.

B+C: What would you consider to be the show that put you and A. Smith & Co. on the map?

Arthur Smith: When I started my company, I didn’t know what reality television was, I just knew nonfiction was my role. I used to read encyclopedias as a kid before there was the internet. I always read biographies. I was totally into nonfiction, and so I knew I was going to be producing something in the doc/reality genre. The first big network show that we did was Paradise Hotel, and it was funny because [then-Fox president of alternative TV] Mike Darnell had put $50,000 into a development deal with a company called Mentorn and wanted me to be a consultant. Eventually, I ended up producing it. For Paradise, we were doing two shows a week and we were turning it around in days. When I look back, the staff from Paradise Hotel are all people who are producing relationship shows now, so it was kind of like Paradise High School.

The other one has to be Hell’s Kitchen. The interesting thing about Hell was at that time, in 2004, food was in a much different place in America. I never really knew Gordon, who was a star chef in the U.K. but no one really knew who he was here. I saw a tape and said, but I don’t like the show. We eventually did the show, but Fox was kind of nervous about it. It actually sat on the shelf for like six months before they put it on. Eventually they did, and it launched on Memorial Day and won its time period. In its third season, it was the highest-rated show in America. It wasn’t the highest rated reality show, it was the No. 1 show over America’s Got Talent, and it really opened the door for food on television and really changed it. We just did our 20th season of Hell’s Kitchen and it’s interesting because, while the show has changed and Gordon has become one of the biggest stars on television, the food scene in America has changed. It’s now all kind of connected because Top Chef, which is the show that Magical Elves produces which is part of my group, launched a year later.

I think the combination of what Hell’s Kitchen was doing on Fox and all of a sudden people are watching food and everything else, and then what Top Chef did on Bravo, I think this was kind of a tandem combination. Hell’s was first though.

On board for Arthur Smith’s HBO Max offering Ellen’s Design Challenge (l. to r.): Portia de Rossi, Arthur Smith, Ellen DeGeneres and producer Jeff Kleeman.

B+C: This year, you’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of your production company, A. Smith & Co. Growing up in Canada, did you ever consider the fact that you might be a successful producer in America?

AS: I’ve loved the entertainment business since I was a kid and I knew that was for me. Nobody in my family worked in the entertainment business and I had no connection to it, but I knew it was my calling. I just had to figure out what it was.

I was an actor as a kid in Canada, but I was always more interested in what was happening behind the scenes. I did a couple of feature films and a couple of guest spots on situation comedies for CBC, but I’d always run into the control room and ask what was going on, so eventually I studied film and television production. That’s how I ended up in production. I didn’t plan to start a production company — I just knew I loved the business.

B+C: What part of the business did you love the most?

AS: When I really, really think about it, the happiest times were when I was making shows. It’s still the thing that motivates me — yes, I run a business, and yes, I’m chairman of a couple of companies and everything like that, but my joy in life is still producing, and that’s why — and people are always surprised — that I’m still on set. I [was recently] in Atlanta for three weeks to be with Dwayne Johnson on The Titan Games. I shot last year for two months in Las Vegas with Gordon Ramsay for seasons 19 and 20 of Hell’s Kitchen. All the business that I do and all the development that we do is so I can have the joy of making the show.

B+C: While your focus has been on the entertainment field, you really got your start on the sports side with CBC. How did your experience in sports influence your entertainment endeavors?

AS: Growing up in Canada, CBC Sports is a premier organization — as good as any organization in the world. In Canada, we have an inferiority complex about our comedies and our dramas. But sports, we’re very, very secure in that. I decided that that was where I wanted to work. I had a crazy break during my final year at Ryerson [University in Toronto] when I met a gentleman who attended Ryerson that was the executive producer of CBC Sports. I literally stalked the guy. I waited outside of his office and one day, he came out, and I said, ‘Can I have 10 minutes of your time?’ And he goes, ‘Who are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m Arthur Smith. I’m in Ryerson. You went to Ryerson.’ I was feeling pretty good about myself: I was on scholarship and I had won some awards for some student films that I did. I didn’t know any better and sometimes ignorance is bliss. I ended up spending 90 minutes with him. He said I could be a production assistant, but I said I wanted to be a producer.

He said I would have to start as a production assistant and you have to start in local news. I told him I didn’t think this is for me, but he called back three weeks later and I ended up starting as a junior producer.

Within six months, I was the replay director on Hockey Night in Canada, and then I went on to produce the [1984] Los Angeles Olympics, which was my introduction to L.A. Then I became CBC’s executive producer, and somehow I ended up as head of CBC Sports. But the whole time I was producing sports, entertainment was my first love. And so my whole approach to sports was always about the story, music and graphics and really setting up the game.

When I was at Fox Sports, we used to always gather the production teams for a meeting every year and I would always say, ‘We make our money as producers when the action stops.’ I said: ‘We’re going to do a great job covering the game, but how we set up the game and the stats that we put in and the stories that we tell, and all that extra stuff, that’s where we make the money. The game is the game. You’re not in control of it.’

Smith project "Mental Samurai" for Fox offers an obstacle course for the brain, and is hosted by actor Rob Lowe (pictured right with contestant Sam Durbin).

B+C: You mentioned that CBC’s Los Angeles-based Olympics coverage was your first exposure to the city, but what was your first exposure to the entertainment business in the States?

AS: CBC was an unbelievable place to learn and I love sports, and the interesting thing, is when I became head of CBC Sports I got a lot of attention in the States. And God bless Dick Clark. He found me and got me my green card and was my mentor. I was still close with Dick until he passed away. Even when I was running [A. Smith & Co.] Dick and I would still talk. I learned a lot about him [and] how he ran his production company. The interesting thing is that I moved to L.A. never, ever thinking that I’d work in sports ever again, and I was good with that because I’d had a whole sports career. And then years later, I ended up with Fox Sports, and that was an unbelievable time.

We launched more than 20 regional sports networks. It was an amazing time of growth and Rupert [Murdoch] was amazing. But I wanted to go back to entertainment. I actually signed a five-year deal, but I had a four-year plan — I just didn’t tell them about it. When I got to my last year, I said I wanted to start my own company. About a month before I was leaving, they came to me and said, ‘There’s a show [Smith] created as the head of programming called, You’ve Got to See This, which was a sports clip show.’ They said, ‘Why don’t you take it for your company?’ They gave me an order for 65 episodes for a show and I hadn’t even started my company. I didn’t even have an office yet. They didn’t have to do that, but we ended up doing 200 episodes.

B+C: Obviously the sports business has grown exponentially since you were at Fox Sports. Does sports have more influence within television now, compared to 25 years ago?

AS: In this world of programming clutter, sports still reigns supreme. It’s still so impressive. Sports continues to be such a valuable commodity to any of the major studios and networks because it’s still the thing that people watch live; it’s still the thing that brings everybody into the tent.

Smith’s roster includes TV One’s signature documentary series "Unsung", chronicling the lives of music stars like Goodie Mob members (from l.): CeeLo Green, T-Mo, Khujo and Big Gipp.

B+C: Your shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, American Ninja Warrior and Unsung have all exceeded industry standards for longevity. What is it that you look for in a show that you think leads to such long-running success stories?

AS: Well, there are three things every hit television show must have: format, great casting and execution. I’ve seen shows that have great format and bad talent, and I’ve seen shows that have great talent but not great format. You really have to have all three. In today’s world, it’s changed a little bit because one of the challenges in today’s marketplace is the amount of programming that’s on. So not only do you have to have all three, you need to have freshness. You need to have some fresh point of view on your show. It could be something new formula-wise. So those are, to me, the key ingredients for a hit show. Those are the things we look for in our new shows.

The other thing when I think about our shows — and we think we have a little bit of a secret sauce we never reveal — but the one thing I will say is television has to make you feel something. Content has to make you feel something. If it doesn’t make you feel anything, you’re not watching it. Sometimes it can make you angry. Sometimes it can make you happy or sad or mad at a character. But you feel something.

That really applies with regards to scripted programming, but I don’t think it’s any different in the nonfiction space. It has to make you feel something. The other thing that we work really hard on is to get invested in characters, no matter what it is. Also, it’s not only important that you have the freshness and all of the things that I’ve talked about, but you have to choose the right network.

As producers, all that we want to do is make and sell shows. But you’ve got to keep yourself in check because you may take an idea but sell it to the wrong place. And by the way, many times, great shows don’t work because they’re on in the wrong place. When we were developing Welcome to Plathville, we took it right to TLC because we knew that was the place where the show would be up in the ratings every week. We’re still waiting on season two, but it was the right place for it.

B+C: How does that criteria apply to sports-themed shows like American Ninja Warrior and Titan Games, where athletic competition is the center of the series?

AS: Actually, Ninja is a great example of how we’ve been successful by getting invested in people. That is the whole emphasis of the show, because there’s no reason for an obstacle course show to be on in primetime at NBC. We’ve made the obstacle course into a metaphor for life, and it was purposeful and it was planned.

I’m a big sports fan and I love everything. I love the new sports and I love the traditional sports. So how do you take an obstacle course and make it special? Well, you make it a story about people. I had great training because I worked on three Olympic games. The first thing we did, when we first got together to talk about Ninja, even when it was on [former cable channel] G4, was that we have to make viewers care about the people, because then when they run the course it’s a whole different level. The visuals are great and the challenges and the obstacles that we come up with are great, but it’s in other people. It’s about the stories that we tell.

B+C: You have also created documentary programming such as Unsung and American Gangster that is focused on more targeted and diverse audiences. Where do those shows fit in the overall production strategy for ASC?

AS: In whatever we do, it’s the same thing. It’s getting invested in characters; it’s making you feel something. That applies to Unsung and Gangster, but I really do love everything. So for me it’s a joy. When I think back, we did Welcome to Plathville for TLC in the same year that we did Titan Games for Dwayne Johnson. We did American Gangster the same year we did Hell’s Kitchen. Now, all of these shows are very different, but the dream from the very beginning was to offer a wide and varied palate. Yes, it’s good business, but it really came from the passion first. I’m as proud of Unsung winning the NAACP Image Award six times as I am about Ninja and its Emmy nominations. To be a little clichéd, they are all my children, and I love all of them the same.

B+C: Having said that, you don’t have one show that is your favorite across your portfolio?

AS: Not a chance. There are shows that I personally spend more time on, but that doesn’t mean I like them anymore or any less. I wasn’t on the day-today development of Plathville, but I love the fact that we did it. I love the story of these people who live off the grid and what the show was and everything else like that.

B+C: You’ve been a TV producer for more than 20 years. Given today’s plethora of platforms and networks, is this the best time in your career to be in the business as a producer?

AS: It is. More money is being spent on programming than ever before, so it is definitely the best time to be a producer. However, it’s probably a little harder to have a hit now than it was before. There are more places to sell, but it’s probably harder to get your show to stay on. You really have to be strategic with stuff like that. We are a lot more cautious when we take a show out, who we pitch it to, etc. We think about it a lot more.

When reality was more of a novelty, you could sell a lot more things and the audience would accept more things because there was so much freshness out there. But now, you have to work harder. You have to work harder to develop it, but if you get it, you can sell it.

Among the productions Smith is most proud of is NBC’s "American Ninja Warrior", which he shepherded during a risky move from niche cable network G4.

B+C: What will it take for producers to remain successful in this business over the next five to 10 years as the industry continues to evolve?

AS: I think that the biggest thing that we have to do as producers in partnership with networks is take chances and risks. The audience loves when we take risks and take chances. When you think back over the years of some of the biggest hits in unscripted and scripted, they were things that were ahead of their time. I believe Hell’s Kitchen was a risk. And I believe moving Ninja, on NBC — because it started on G4 — was a risk. I remember talking about other people’s shows: When Dancing with the Stars was first brought to America everyone laughed at it and said, ‘Oh, it’s ballroom and it’s cheesy’ and everything, but it was fresh and different. The Masked Singer is fresh and different. I think the audience craves it and I think it’s more important than ever before. Anytime I hear something that sounds very similar, very familiar, even in our development, I think it’s an uphill battle. I think we’re going to be challenged by the consumer who has so many choices. We have some things that we’re working on right now that are crazy and risky. I just hope the networks will be receptive, and I think when networks take chances, they often pay off.

B+C: You sold A. Smith & Co. to Tinopolis in 2011. What made you pull the trigger on the deal?

AS: We had been approached by people starting probably in 2006 or 2007. I love our culture and I love the way it works here — it is a company run by producers and we do things because we’re passionate about them. It’s not always about the bottom line; we do make money, but we have a culture here and I was very protective of it. Like I said, we were approached by a number of people before that and got very close a couple times, but I said no because it didn’t feel right. The Tinopolis guys approached us and it was interesting because Mentorn, who I did Paradise Hotel with, is part of this Tinopolis Group, which is kind of weird that it all came around again. There was something about that, and I really liked the guys. So, I sold my company but I’m just a partner in another company. That was very important to me: I never wanted to be somebody collecting companies. I never saw myself selling my company to a group so large that I would just be this unit, and the Tinopolis guys didn’t have anything in the United States. I’m talking to them about culture, and they said, ‘Run the business the way you want to.’

I’m still a major shareholder in the company, so I feel like I got an investment in my company. There is the opportunity to grow and it just felt right. It’s been eight years and we have such a great relationship with the guys in the U.K. We’ve been very careful about the American companies we’ve selected and the Magical Elves being a part of it. They were very, very similar to us in terms of how they ran their business and their focus on the highest quality shows.

B+C: So with Tinopolis now behind you, do you approach the business differently in terms of the networks you talk to and the shows you’re creating?

AS: Our development is very robust, however, I have this philosophy: If you want to sell more shows, you develop less programs. If you pitch less programs, you’ll sell more shows. I found a number of years ago that if we develop the things that we’re most passionate about and really made those great, so those pitches were iron-clad. It’s kind of like the kid who sends out a hundred resumes as opposed to really focusing on three or four and really doing a white paper and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. Things don’t leave the building until we have figured it out.

Then right from the very beginning, our shows come in on budget. We only do the highest quality of work, we’re responsive and we’re a service company. I don’t feel like we’re an old company, however, when I look around, there’s not a lot of 20-year-old companies in the entertainment business. I think that has to do with the way we operate. Obviously they have to be good programs, but we have to be good partners. All businesses have relationships and reputations and stuff like that. It’s really important. We will go the extra mile on a pilot or a series to be a good network partner.

B+C: Some of today’s unscripted/reality programming is salacious and controversial. Does that worry you at all in terms of the future prosperity of the genre?

AS: I think the audience has woken up and they’re turning their back on things that don’t feel authentic now. I’m happy to see the audience is weighing in. Listen, there’s still stuff that’s out there and that’s fine. The buzzword today is authenticity, and it matters. When it’s overly manipulated, it kind of feels like old-school cheese reality, and I think the audience doesn’t want it. I think that’s behind the successes recently for Netflix and for a network like TLC, which is very authentic — strange people, but authentic — that it doesn’t feel overly manipulated.

B+C: What would you say is the biggest regret of your career?

AS: I don’t believe in regrets, however, when I was working on Hell’s Kitchen and Desperate Housewives was on the air I was thinking, ‘There’s got to be a reality version of this.’ And I located this really well-known jeweler who lived in Scottsdale. I had an idea for a Real Housewives of Scottsdale series — I didn’t call it that at the time, but I ended up getting busy with Hell’s and I never pursued it. Then I watched all the Real Housewives launch.

B+C: Other than Real Housewives, what show currently on the air do you wish you developed?

AS: I’m sure there are others I would’ve liked to have developed that are on, but that’s one I saw but I just didn’t act fast enough. By the way, so many times in the nonfiction business, it’s not only about having a good idea, it’s also moving quickly. Because there’s so much energy not only in this, but in New York and all around the country where people are thinking of the next idea. Everyone’s online, watching the same stuff, reading the same things. Chances are — and it’s happened to every producer over the years — you have an idea and then they read about the same idea in Broadcasting+Cable or Multichannel News.

B+C: Have you ever considered producing scripted shows?

AS: Sure. I’m a nonfiction guy and I love nonfiction, but we’ve played around in the mockumentary area, we’ve played around in the sketch area. There is a feature that we have in development right now that I can’t talk about, but it’s something that comes out of a true story. So I think that’s the type of thing we would do. I think we’re more inclined to get into features and maybe a scripted drama that’s based on a true story. But there’s so much joy in what we do and I really feel like we’re still diversified in the types of things that we have in nonfictional.

B+C: As the streaming companies begin to move into the non-scripted arena, do you see that developing as a major area for you?

AS: I love the streaming business. Between the two companies, I think we have more shows with Netflix than anybody and we love working with them. ASC has two shows with Netflix that haven’t been announced yet that’ll be on this year. And the Elves have Nailed It! and Sugar Rush and there’s another one coming — they’ve had great success there. We also have a development deal with Amazon, and that hasn’t been announced yet but we are in development with them. It was interesting when Netflix first started, they didn’t get it. It was more premium, dramatic series that they got into but now they’re finding a lot of success in the unscripted space and I think that’s only going to grow. I’m glad they’re there.

B+C: Are you concerned about how the linear cable business will continue to evolve?

AS: Yes, I am concerned for a number of the cable networks, and I know they are too. But this is indeed the best time to be a producer, and there is more money to be spent on production. There is growth in streaming and there’s a bit of consolidation on the linear side, but the net effect is still more and still better content. Of course I think about it, and when we were talking about where shows go, you have to think about where your show has the most chance of success. We want them all to be successful.

B+C: Looking over your career, what’s the one thing that you’d point to and say, this identifies who I am and what I want to do?

AS: I’m a very emotional person. I’m a very passionate person. I’ll go back to something that I said before: my greatest joy is making television that makes people feel something. Right from the very beginning when I was in sports and was making those emotional Olympic packages, I said this is my calling. That’s why Ninja is such a joy for me.

I’m so proud of the show because it was such a long shot and now we’re getting nominated for Emmys. I’m so proud of it because I think it plays to what people care about most, which is their fellow human beings. I want to make shows that make people feel something and care. That, to me, is what drives me, is what makes me most excited. When the viewer watches something, they’re not analyzing why they feel, they just know they feel and then they’re compelled to watch. Our job is to make them feel. Sometimes it’s the cut of music and sometimes it’s that emotional bite and sometimes it’s the way it’s shot. Those are the tricks that make the game so much fun. It’s still the thing that gets me most excited. 

Author: R. Thomas Umstead
Posted: February 17, 2020, 1:20 pm

Stations should tap into the natural benefits of outside activities 

The post The Great Outdoors for Fun and Profit  appeared first on Radio World.

Duluth, Minn., rock station KQDS(FM) hosts a Great Outdoors blog at https://95kqds.com/. It features “experiences, tips and discussion.”

I love to hike, bike and walk, especially on trails through the woods. Judging from the quantity of people I encounter on my excursions, I am not alone in my passion for the great outdoors. It’s one of the few remaining places in America where people actually openly smile and say hello to one another. I suppose we are all in a better mood when carefree and breathing fresh air. 

Radio stations are always searching for ways to project fun, tap into good feelings and show support for public institutions. By appointing one of your on-air personalities as your “outdoors person” — or hiring a freelancer — you can capture this feel-good attitude. And yes, there’s even a way to generate revenue by doing so.

A clever name or title for this al-fresco role will help you to build affection for the person presenting information on-air, online and via your social platforms. You are creating a subject matter expert — an influencer, in today’s parlance — who has the street cred to guide your audience into the great outdoors. 

No doubt, part of the appeal of communing with nature is that many outside activities are either inexpensive or even free. It’s important to communicate the financial facts and other details when talking about park entry fees, activities and events. 

Here’s an example of how this could play out on your station and then across your brand’s platforms: 

  1. On-air pre-recorded piece: “Hey, it’s Smokey O, the Outdoors Guy. During this amazing spell of mild winter weather, have you considered hiking in the nearby George Washington National Forest? Parts of the forest are less than two hours from DC. One trail I particularly recommend is the Woodstock Tower Trail, a moderate 45-minute gradual climb. When you get to the top, you can climb the ranger tower where you can see for miles over the Shenandoah Valley. Entrance to the park is free. Get more details about how to plan your day at [station’s website], Facebook page or see pics at #SmokeyO.” 
  2. Tag: “Smokey O, the Outdoors Guy, is brought to you by Smoot’s Outfitters, where all your climbing gear is now 20% off.” 
  3. On Instagram, you’d post pics of the hike. 
  4. Your host, Smokey O, could do a weekly five-minute podcast about his forays. 
  5. Some of these clips could be recorded while Smoky O is actually hiking, a great way to inspire listeners to get up and go.
Ozarks Public Radio capitalized on June as Great Outdoors month at www.ksmu.org, branching out from its regular coverage of Missouri news and politics.

After you’ve established your Outdoors Person as an authentic, reliable personality and he or she has gained a following, you’re really ready to run. They can begin making appearances at nonprofit events and activities to strengthen your station’s community relations, then also serve as a personality doing live cut-ins from retail establishments and commercial exhibitions related to anything outdoors.

FINDING YOUR SMOKEY O

I’ve left the most challenging part of this plan for last. You’re likely wondering how in the world you are going to find the right person for this role. 

Aside from the normal job sites, like LinkedIn and Indeed, and getting recommendations from locals connected to the outdoor scene, have some fun! 

Run a contest and do “tryouts” for a month. You could feature contestants on your morning show, have them guest-post photos on your Instagram, and then let your audience vote. 

You could also check to see if there are any local influencers with an active lifestyle who are already big on YouTube or Instagram. Likely, they’d love to reach a new audience via radio and your social channels. 

Sowegalive.com features its own “The Great Outdoors Radio Show” and a podcast for Georgia outdoor enthusiasts.

Remember that this concept is not limited to hiking. Depending on your location, you can cover fishing, hunting, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, sailing… virtually any outside activity that your audience enjoys in your area. 

More than 150 years ago, Massachusetts native Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, “What is Nature unless there is an eventful human life passing within her?” Encourage your listeners to experience the world outside, and who knows what they may discover.

Mark Lapidus is a multi-platform media, content and marketing executive and longtime Radio World contributor. Email [email protected].

The post The Great Outdoors for Fun and Profit  appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Mark Lapidus
Posted: February 19, 2020, 9:33 pm

Commission is looking to free up more spectrum for 5G

The post Big Tech, Broadcast Battle Over 6 GHz appeared first on Radio World.

The FCC is getting pressure to free up the entire 1,200 megahertz of the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi, as broadcasters wave caution flags over potential interference to their signals should a sharing regime be instituted.

A continued call for all of the spectrum that stations now use for electronic newsgathering (ENG) came in a letter to the FCC from some of the biggest in Big Tech — Apple, Facebook, Google — as well as from consumer and free-market advocacy groups.

That was followed closely by a letter from a bipartisan pair of legislators calling for the same approach, including one whose Northern California district skirts Silicon Valley.

Broadcasters use the band for broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) operations such as sporting events, breaking news and special events. They said the FCC’s proposed interference protections — limited to lower-power, indoor operations — miss the mark, particularly as some camera transmitters used to relay footage to stations also operate indoors and at low power, so they would be in the interference line of fire even with those limitations on unlicensed devices.

Broadcasters have had to fight for ENG before as the FCC trolled for spectrum. They don’t want the agency to allow full use of the band without assurances — and not simply from the computer companies or cable operators hungrily eyeing the spectrum — that new uses won’t interfere with existing operations.

Cable operators, who are looking for more Wi-Fi spectrum, agree with the computer companies that there is a way to share and share alike.

The FCC on a mission to free up as much spectrum for 5G as possible (a Trump administration priority), including allowing shared use wherever it is feasible.

While some have argued for moving incumbents to a different band entirely, Apple and others have said that process could take a decade. Besides, sharing will work without jeopardizing incumbent service, tech companies told the FCC: “If the commission wants to bring more midband spectrum into use for next-generation wireless in the near term, while preventing disruption and interference to incumbents, the clear answer is to make 6 GHz available for shared unlicensed use.”

Lawmakers Join Push

In their letter, Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) asked the FCC to free up the entire band ASAP. “We believe the 6 GHz band’s greatest potential would be realized by unlocking all 1,200 MHz of the band for unlicensed use,” they wrote. “This would foster innovation and greatly benefit American consumers and our nation’s economy.”

The legislators said they agree that protecting incumbents is crucial, but also argue that Wi-Fi has a track record of successful sharing and this should be no different, given the FCC’s expertise in protecting licensed users from interference.

The FCC voted unanimously back in October 2018 to propose opening up the band to unlicensed devices — everything from laptops to Fitbits to offloading wireless traffic — using automatic frequency control (AFC) devices to prevent interference with licensed users.

All the commissioners pointed to the need to relieve congestion in the wireless band, including under the direction of Congress in the MOBILE NOW Act, which charged the FCC with finding more spectrum for 5G.

The FCC is expected soon to vote on making that proposal a reality. But not if broadcasters have anything to do with it.

The National Association of Broadcasters argues the proponents of sharing in the band “assume away” the challenges of protecting those BAS operations. The trade group told the FCC earlier this month that hundreds of MHz can be opened for Wi-Fi and broadcasters are willing to work with the government and stakeholders on a solution to sharing. But nothing the computer companies have so far come up with fills the bill.

“[T]he Wi-Fi uses under consideration in this proceeding are simply incompatible with mobile broadcast operations used for electronic newsgathering — and no proposal advanced by any party to date will protect those mobile operations,” NAB says.

If those do ever materialize, the NAB said, the FCC can consider them then, and in a separate proceeding.

 

The post Big Tech, Broadcast Battle Over 6 GHz appeared first on Radio World.

Author: John Eggerton
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:42 pm

Let’s take a look at the main tests that lie at the heart of all audio testing

The post Introduction to the Six Basic Audio Measurements appeared first on Radio World.

David Mathew

The author is technical publications manager and a senior technical writer at Audio Precision in Beaverton, Ore.

When reduced to its basics, the process of audio test and measurement is concerned with a small number of performance benchmarks. At my company, we call these “the Big Six,” and they are as follows:

  • Level
  • Frequency Response
  • THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise)
  • Phase
  • Crosstalk
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

Fig. 1 shows a typical test setup for the Big Six audio measurements.

Fig. 1: Test setup for the Big Six audio measurements of a device under test.
LEVEL

Any Device Under Test (or DUT, as often referenced in the world of test and measurement) may have a number of level measurements that are of interest. You must choose which level you are seeking. Target levels include:

  • an input level that produces a given output level, such as 1 volt, or 1 watt, or unity gain (see below for a discussion of DUT gain);
  • an input level that produces a certain output distortion, such as 1% THD+N;
  • a level that provides good noise performance with comfortable headroom, often called the operating level;
  • an input or output level specified in a testing document.

Any of these levels may be used as a reference level on which we can base further measurements. Frequency response measurements, for example, are expressed relative to the level of a mid-band frequency; THD+N measurements are made at specified levels, which should be reported in the results.

The ratio of a DUT’s output voltage level to its input voltage level is the voltage gain of the DUT. For example, in a DUT with a gain of 2, an applied input of 2 volts will produce an output of 4 volts. A gain of 1, where the output voltage equals the input voltage, is called unity gain. Some DUTs offer no gain adjustments, and are said to have fixed gain. The gain may be fixed at unity, or at some other value.

A DUT with a volume control or other setting that affects gain is a variable gain device. When setting and measuring level, it is essential to consider whether or not the DUT gain is variable (not only volume controls, but tone controls and other settings can change gain), and, if it is, how to set the DUT controls for the desired test results.

FREQUENCY RESPONSE

A frequency response measurement reports the output levels of a DUT when stimulated with different frequencies of known level. The simplest of all frequency response measurements consists of only two or three tones, the first near the middle of a DUT’s usable frequency range, and followed by a tone near the higher extreme of the range and sometimes a tone near the lower extreme. Assuming the tones are all generated at the same level, the DUT’s output levels describe its response to these different frequencies.

Fig. 2: An example of a frequency response sweep of a device.

Full-range frequency response measurements can be made by a number of different methods, the classic being a sweep of a sine wave from the lowest frequency in the range to the highest, with the results plotted on a graph. A “flat” response describes the shape of a graph where the DUT responds equally at all frequencies, producing a trace with a slope of 0 and with minimal variations. Fig. 2 shows a typical result.

THD+N

THD+N stands for Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise. Harmonic distortion is the unwanted addition of new tones to the audio signal. These tones are harmonically related tones to the original signal: when the signal is one sine wave of frequency f1, harmonic tones are f2, f3 and so on, at integral multiples of the original tone. Total harmonic distortion is the sum of all of the harmonics measured in the DUT’s bandwidth.

Why THD+N? Why not just measure THD (the distortion) and N (the noise) individually? Well, in the pre-FFT days of audio measurement, it was difficult to measure the THD by itself, without the noise, but it was relatively simple to measure the THD and the N together. So the accepted techniques handed down from years past specify THD+N, because that’s what was practical. In addition, THD+N is a convenient and telling single-number mark of performance, widely understood and accepted.

The measured THD+N of a device will vary with the measurement bandwidth. You will almost always want to restrict the measurement bandwidth using high-pass and low-pass filters, and you must include the bandwidth used when you state the result. THD+N is typically measured and reported in a 20 Hz–20 kHz bandwidth.

Fig. 3: Screenshot of a THD+N measurement of a device at maximum operating level.

The measured THD+N of a device will also vary with level and the frequency of the applied signal. Audio THD+N is typically measured and reported at a mid-range frequency (1 kHz or so) at either the device’s nominal operating level or at its maximum output level (MOL). Fig. 3 shows a typical THD+N measurement result at MOL.

PHASE

In audio engineering, phase measurements are used to describe the positive or negative time offset in a cycle of a periodic waveform (such as a sine wave), measured from a reference waveform. The reference is usually the same signal at a different point in the system, or a related signal in a different channel in the system. This choice of references defines the two most common phase measurements: device input/output phase, and interchannel phase.

Phase shift varies with frequency, and it is not uncommon to make phase measurements at several frequencies or to plot the phase response of a frequency sweep. Phase is expressed in degrees.

CROSSTALK

In audio systems of more than one channel, it is undesirable for the signal in one channel to appear at a reduced level in the output of another channel. This signal leakage across channels is called crosstalk, and in practical devices it is very difficult to eliminate. It’s expressed as the ratio of the undesired signal in the unstimulated channel to the signal in the stimulated channel.

Crosstalk is largely the result of capacitive coupling between channel conductors in the device, and usually exhibits a rising characteristic with frequency. It’s often expressed in the form of a single-number result; however, a crosstalk versus frequency sweep will show how a DUT performs across its operating bandwidth.

SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO

How much noise is too much? That depends on how loud your signal is. Signal-to-noise ratio (or SNR) is a measure of this difference, providing (like THD+N) a single-number mark of device performance. The signal is usually set to the nominal operating level or to the maximum operating level (MOL) of the DUT. When SNR is made using the MOL, the result can also be called the dynamic range, since it describes the two extremes of level possible in the DUT. (Dynamic range in digital devices has a somewhat different meaning). SNR is usually stated in decibels, often shown as negative. Fig. 4 shows a typical SNR measurement result.

Fig. 4: A typical SNR measurement result.

Using traditional methods, SNR requires two measurements and a bit of arithmetic. First you measure the signal level, then turn off the generator (and often, terminate the DUT inputs in a low impedance as well, to fully reduce the noise in the device). Then the noise level (often called the noise floor) is measured, using filters to restrict the measurement bandwidth. The ratio between the two is the SNR.

David Mathew has worked as both a mixing engineer and a technical engineer in the recording and filmmaking industries. He was awarded an Emmy for his sound work in 1988.           

The post Introduction to the Six Basic Audio Measurements appeared first on Radio World.

Author: David Mathew
Posted: February 19, 2020, 5:14 pm

Read about trends in audio consoles; radio job layoffs; Christian broadcasters in Nashville; and reader ebook reactions

The post Inside the Feb. 19 Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

RW Feb. 19 2020 coverMichael LeClair reflects on trends in audio consoles; Fred Jacobs worries about unintended consequences of radio job layoffs; Christian broadcasters convene in Nashville seeking their 2020 vision; and readers react to our ebook “Radio Engineering in Crisis.”

Read it online here.

Prefer to do your reading offline? No problem! Simply click on the Issuu link, go to the left corner and choose the download button to get a PDF version.

WORKBENCH
Infrared? Don’t Just Point & Shoot

Engineers, here are useful tips to avoid getting false hot spot readings as you inspect your facilities.

BUYER’S GUIDE
Sports Reporting & Remote Gear

One of our jobs at RW is to help bring buyers and sellers together. Read from your colleagues about why they chose to buy particular products from companies like Comrex, Tieline, Henry and AEQ.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

The post Inside the Feb. 19 Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: February 19, 2020, 4:59 pm

Statement indicates the impact COVID-19 has had on major event planners around the world

The post NAB Show and Coronavirus appeared first on Radio World.

The National Association of Broadcasters announced it will proceed with the 2020 NAB Show in Las Vegas, but also laid out the steps it is taking in response to concerns about the coronavirus, which it says it is taking “very seriously.”

The show dates are April 18–22 in Las Vegas.

coronavirus mask
Getty Images/Yaroslav Mikheev

The fact that NAB would issue a statement affirming that the show will go on is a measure of the impact COVID-19 has had on major event planners around the world.

“The association is closely monitoring COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, and is prepared to devote whatever resources necessary to ensure a safe and productive NAB Show experience,” it said in a statement. “While the NAB stands firm in its commitment to hold the convention as planned, the health and safety of attendees and participants are NAB’s top priority.”

The association explained the steps it is taking.

Its management team created a COVID-19 resource page on the NAB Show website, where updates will be provided.

They said the show is adhering to guidance and recommended safety measures issued by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health organizations; and that it is working with the Las Vegas Convention Center, airport authority and area hotels and resorts to coordinate safety procedures.

It said it is following CDC recommendations and protocols for “heightened levels of cleanliness” at event facilities, and making accommodations and encouraging attendees to take “common-sense precautions” and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of illness.

NAB said it will ensure that medical care is readily accessible to address immediate health concerns, and that it is “working with China-based exhibitors and registered attendees to evaluate options for those unable to attend due to travel restrictions.”

It noted that attendance from China, “although growing, represented less than 2 percent of total registered attendees in 2019.”

As of a week ago, as reported by our sister publication TV Technology, NAB had said no exhibitors had pulled out but that organizers were reaching out to companies from China to assess their status.

In the announcement, the organizers said they have experienced “an uptick in exhibit sales, attendee registration and hotel bookings in recent weeks, and conference program speakers are confirmed daily.”

The post NAB Show and Coronavirus appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Paul McLane
Posted: February 19, 2020, 4:18 pm

Digigram Asia now distributes the entire Barix product line in the region

The post Barix and Digigram Asia Announce Partnership for APAC appeared first on Radio World.

Digigram Asia Pte Ltd and Barix are now working together in the APAC region.

The companies announced their exclusive partnership, which covers several APAC countries.

These include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Myanmar, and South Korea.

Under the agreement, Digigram Asia will distribute the entire Barix product line, including the new SIP Opus codec.

“Digigram Asia Pte Ltd is taking another step in its expansion strategy by adding Barix to its existing agreements with Auvitran and Streamguys,” explained says Nancy Diaz Curiel, Digigram Asia managing director. “We will be able to provide extended service and additional value to our customers,” she said.

“Digigram’s knowledge of the AoIP market combined with Barix’s cost-effective solutions for radio broadcast, intercom and paging, as well as audio streaming gives Asian customers access to better solutions for their AoIP needs,” added Reto Brader, Barix CEO.

The partnership took effect Feb. 1.

The post Barix and Digigram Asia Announce Partnership for APAC appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Marguerite Clark
Posted: February 19, 2020, 7:00 am

Minorities and women claim a small fraction of ownership in U.S. broadcast stations

The post Report Paints Bleak Diversity Picture in U.S. Broadcast Ownership appeared first on Radio World.

The Federal Communications Commission released its most recent report on the ownership of broadcast stations across the U.S. For the first time it also gathered data on the gender, ethnicity and race of those with an attributable interest in noncom educational stations.

The results revealed that women and minorities still hold only a small fraction of majority ownership in U.S. broadcast stations.

[Read: America’s Broadcasters Should Look Like America]

For example, the report revealed that women collectively or individually held a majority interest in 874 commercial broadcast stations, compared to their male colleagues who hold a majority interest in 8,736.

Yet the report also reveals that radio is an industry providing a higher percentage of attributable ownership opportunities for women and minority groups. According to the report, based on information submitted by licensees in response to the FCC 2017 biennial ownership report, women hold a greater percentage of majority voting interest in commercial AM radio (8.9%) when compared to full-power commercial television (5.3%).

The same trends were seen when in tracking ethnic groups across radio. Hispanic and Latino individuals held a held a discernable majority voting interest in 4.2% of all full-power commercial television stations as compared to 6.1% of commercial AM stations.

Radio World will shortly publish second item with more data about radio specifically.

The disparity was similar when comparing the race of commercial station owners. Those who identify as white were reported to hold a majority interest in 10,076 commercial broadcast stations compared with  416 commercial stations owned by those who identify as a racial minority.

Ownership based on racial group was broken down further:

  • Black/African Americans owned 239 commercial broadcast stations;
  • Asians owned 136 commercial broadcast stations;
  • American Indian/Alaska Natives owned 31 commercial broadcast stations;
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders owned seven commercial broadcast stations.

The numbers played out similarly when it came to noncommercial broadcast stations.

Women collectively or individually hold a voting interest in 401 noncommercial broadcast stations. While women have a 9% stake in noncommercial FM radio stations (a total of 314 across the country), not one woman was listed as holding a majority in any noncommercial Class A television stations. Compare that to the noncommercial ownership numbers for men, which collectively or individually hold a majority of the voting interests in 2,564 noncommercial broadcast stations, including 2,086 FM radio stations.

Data gathered from the 2017 biannual report gave details on ownership, such as a breakdown of owners of commercial AM radio stations.

Racial minorities holding a majority of the voting interest at noncommercial stations includes 109 noncommercial broadcast stations, including 12 AM radio stations and 91 FM radio stations.

Ethnicity was also tracked as part of the report. Those who do not identify as Hispanic or Latino hold voting interests in 9,836 commercial broadcast stations, compared to only 668 Hispanic/Latino owners. For noncommercial stations, the numbers were still stark: Non-Hispanic/Latino persons collectively or individually held a majority interest in 3,100 noncommercial broadcast stations, compared to 121 noncommercial broadcast stations.

“It is striking — but not surprising — that no minority group is better off in owning more full-power commercial broadcast stations than they did in 2015,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in a statement. The year 2015 was the last year that this type of ownership data was collected. Of 1,385 stations, African-Americans owned just 12 stations in 2015 — “an anemic figure to be sure,” he said — and still owned just 12 stations in 2017.

Many minority groups saw their ownership numbers worsen, he said, including American Indian or Alaska Native women. “They lost all eight stations in which they held a majority ownership interest in 2015,” Starks said, which was the last year that the report was produced.

Women lost ground overall, representing only 5.3% of full-power commercial station owners, down from 7.4% in 2015.

“I have said it before: America’s broadcasters must look like America,” said Starks, one of two Democrats currently sitting on the five-member FCC. “We have much work to do — and it starts with us fulfilling our direct order from the Third Circuit to implement a data program that would help understand the impact of our regulatory efforts on the ability of women and people of color to own stations.”

In addition to a breakdown on gender, ethnicity and race, the report includes a comparison of 2017 and 2015 data for full-power commercial television, Class A television, low-power television, commercial AM radio, and commercial FM radio stations; as well as detailed ownership information in a series of tables and spreadsheets.

Reports can be searched via licensee name, call sign, service or  FCC Registration Number here.

 

The post Report Paints Bleak Diversity Picture in U.S. Broadcast Ownership appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Susan Ashworth
Posted: February 18, 2020, 8:49 pm

Says the change will “benefit the WRAU listening audience”

The post WAMU to Sell WRAU to Delaware Public Media appeared first on Radio World.

D.C. NPR affiliate WAMU 88.5 announced it will sell WRAU(FM) of Ocean City, Md., to Delaware Public Media. Pending Federal Communications Commission approval, the deal will close in June, and programming changes are slated for the same month. 

The press release positions the sale as “a strategic move on the part of both parties to benefit the WRAU listening audience.” Terms were not disclosed.

Additionally, WAMU said the current WRAU listening audience represents only 2% of WAMU’s weekly broadcast audience. WRAU is licensed to the Salisbury metro area — more than two hours from D.C., where the American University licensee’s programming originates — and its signal reaches Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties in Maryland and Sussex county in Delaware, according to a WAMU representative.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Salisbury is just a stone’s throw from the Delaware state line. According to Radio-Locator’s WRAU coverage map, the station’s local signal reaches close to Milton, Del., and its fringe signal extends well past Dover, representing more than half of the state’s geographic area.  

NEW DELAWARE OWNER, LOCAL FOCUS

In the announcement, Delaware Public Media President Jane Vincent said the purchase is in line with her organization’s mission to serve Delaware’s three counties “with independent high-quality news and programming for and about Delaware.” (Current describes WRAU as a repeater station for WAMU.) She added that continued “access to great NPR programming” for Sussex Country, Del., residents and “keeping the signal within the NPR family” are “bonuses” from the deal.

Delaware Public Media was founded in 2010 as a “digital-only outlet” and added WDDE(FM) 91.1 two years later, making it the First State’s only NPR affiliate. The organization also assists Brandywine School District’s WMPH(FM) and Red Clay Consolidated School District’s WMHS(FM).    

For WAMU’s part, it indicated financial support of WRAU was not in line with current goals. According to the announcement, WAMU will concentrate on the D.C. metropolitan area. WAMU General Manager JJ Yore described the decision as a win-win that enables both pubcasters to provide “local audiences with the best possible public service.” He emphasized that WAMU is “deeply committed to strengthening our coverage of the Washington region, not only on 88.5 but also through WAMU.org, DCist, our podcasts and social media.”

The post WAMU to Sell WRAU to Delaware Public Media appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Emily M. Reigart
Posted: February 18, 2020, 7:53 pm

When managing a radio facility, sometimes saving money can turn out to be costly

The post Be Smart When Thinking About UPS appeared first on Radio World.

We all love cool, new technology, but sometimes we need to talk about technology that is not as sexy yet still extremely important.

I want to talk a little bit about uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).

It is not a conversation we like to have, but we all know how important it is to protect expensive equipment and improve uptime. I expect many smaller stations will have a similar experience to mine, so I wanted to take the time to help drive the right ways to think about this important equipment.

Production room with APC SMX UPS

Working at Holy Spirit Radio in the Philadelphia area, we operate two small non-profit stations. Although I have been involved with the stations since the foundation was formed 20 years ago, my involvement over the last three years has increased tremendously as we prepare for the next 20 years.

Equipment in radio has changed dramatically, from much larger analog equipment of yesteryear to the all-digital equipment of today. In my view, some of the older equipment could handle power fluctuations that would damage or destroy some of the newer equipment that is used today.

Right before I started to increase my involvement at the stations, the engineer replaced all our UPS equipment. The prior equipment was not nearly powerful enough to meet the needs, and the batteries did not last long in a power outage event. Like many of us, he was frustrated by the higher costs for some of the name-brand equipment, even though the technology they used was relatively unchanged. At the time, he was determined to avoid APC and a few other brands.

GENERATOR/UPS CONFLICT

The UPS units purchased back in 2016 have been doing their job effectively over the past few years, although I am certain some of the batteries are in need of replacement. I only had one frustration, and that was discovered during a long-term power outage during a hurricane. Due to the cost, our stations currently do not have an automatic backup generator, but instead we use a manual generator during the few times we require it.

Rack UPS with extra batteries

During this particular incident, the UPS units would not power on with the generator due to the ups and downs (or “dirty” energy) that they produce. In order to get the power to the equipment, we had to bypass the UPS units, which can hurt some of the equipment.

One of the key protections of any UPS equipment should be to even out the power, ultimately preventing surges. The challenge is that once you get through an issue like that, sometimes it is moved to the backburner in favor of other issues that seem to be more pressing. We should never hold off on issues that can destroy thousands of dollars in equipment!

Earlier this year, we had a few incidents that brought the issue with our UPS equipment to the forefront. Over the years, the vast majority of our electrical outages have been at night, so we did not witness how well our UPS equipment handled the outage. The equipment typically stayed working, or if the battery died, it came up as soon as the utility power returned.

NOT ENOUGH PROTECTION

Recently, there was an electrical fire right down the street from our studios. It eventually caused the electricity to go out, but my concern started at that moment the fire started. As I watched the lights dim or go bright as the electrical pattern went up and down, I noticed some of our equipment acting in a similar manner. I immediately made sure they were plugged into the UPS, and they were. Ugh!

I was now worried about the thousands of dollars we’d spent on Wheatstone equipment as the UPS was obviously not working properly. Since I could see the incident from my window, I brought down all non-essential equipment and lowered our transmitter power.   Over the next few hours, our electricity went up and down.

A few days later, we had another electrical issue due to weather and a car accident. This time, the power went fully down, and when it returned, the UPS equipment did not turn on. Even though the equipment was not three years old, I decided I had to replace each of our UPS units.

We may have saved money with the UPS purchase three years ago, but it almost became a costly mistake. Luckily, none of our equipment showed lasting impact, so I started the process to purchase new UPS units. I outlined what our needs would be, including ability to handle “dirty” energy, relatively quiet operation (especially for our studio), communication in the event of an outage, the ability to add battery power or hot swap batteries during an outage, the ability to program various levels to shut down equipment that is not needed, as well as guarantees for equipment.

MAKING THE RIGHT INVESTMENT THIS TIME

Since we do not have an automatic backup generator, batteries can help extend the time for us. If we did turn on our portable generator, I wanted equipment that would not require rewiring to get it back online. I decided to go with the SMX series by APC.

Control room with APC UPS

Even prior to ordering the equipment, I started mapping out the electrical needs in each area that would require a UPS. It is important to understand your inputs and outputs, as well as determine what must be protected, but may not be necessary in an outage situation.

I then went and placed my order. I purchased online from a variety of sources, depending on the price of the specific equipment. Between both of our stations, I knew I would have to purchase six UPS units and two additional batteries. I decided we should start with just two and make sure it was the right equipment for our needs as well as determine if changes needed to be made regarding the necessary equipment.

SHOP FOR DEALS

I found a great deal for an additional battery from NewEgg. It was a return that they were selling with original warranty. It had a huge cost savings, so I was worried. The box arrived at my home with the outer layer held together with tape covering virtually every square inch. It was obvious to me that the item’s original box was beyond repair. As I cut through the tape, I was able to find a perfect condition battery unit inside. I would not always advise making such a purchase from unknown vendors, but I have had good experience with NewEgg, so I trusted them. The battery worked flawlessly.

Some of the equipment had the best price on Amazon, so I ordered it there. This caused me to understand why someone had to return the battery to NewEgg, because it is easy to make mistakes! I did. I accidentally purchased the SMT series instead of the SMX. The SMT series is probably a smarter UPS, but they do not allow add on batteries (although you can hot swap them). When I searched the model number, Amazon showed the SMT22000 instead of the SMX2200. I was able to use it, just not in a place where I would have an extra battery.

Another mistake I made was not checking out dimensions of the equipment. I simply assumed the server rack mount would fit easily within our servers. Well, the 2,200-watt model has a much greater depth than our server rack (APC does offer a shorter, double height version). It was not a big deal, but I had to change where I would mount it and removed a door on the back of the rack.

In our main studio, I realized after the fact that a few of our rack areas do not have the same depth. This caused me to have to reposition the UPS backup. It is always a learning process!

The APC devices were fantastic but certainly far from perfect. As I maneuvered these devices, I was able to reduce the equipment required by two UPS units. It required some rewiring of the racks, but not much work. I cleaned up each rack. I then added two Tripp-Lite network grade power strips (one 15-amp and the other 20-amp) as well as utilizing the existing strip built into the rack. One power strip is used for primary or always on power, another is secondary, which would stay on for part of the time and the other was equipment that would not be needed in the event of an outage.

The amount of time I would program in would vary by rack. With some racks, it immediately shuts down non-essential items, while others allow non-essential items to run for 15 minutes or so.

BEWARE OF REQUIRED UPGRADES

I was frustrated that the APC equipment required separately-purchased network cards for some of the functionality I wanted. I was surprised this was true for the SMT, which has an app that can monitor the device through a different network connection, but if you want that functionality, you have to buy the $300 card. It is stupid that the app does not offer the broader functions. Anyway, I was able to locate a used network card on Amazon for $88, so no big deal.

We did find out in our testing process that our new UPS equipment can power even our backup transmitter (it is small). So, after testing, I reduced our number of UPSes from six to four, but purchased an additional battery to allow our equipment to feed our other station as well as operate our backup transmitter for over seven hours.

Today, we have a sophisticated backup power system, even when an automatic generator is still out of reach for our non-profit. We have programmed smart ways of using our power to help protect the equipment but also allow key equipment to be available longer in an outage.

Did we make mistakes? Sure, especially with purchasing no-name equipment in the past. We learned from it and changed gears. In the future, we will be mindful of our cost-savings effort but we will consider the ramifications of those decisions.

Frank Eliason is a consultant helping Fortune 500 brands with customer experience and digital disruption. He is an author and director of operations for Holy Spirit Radio in the Philadelphia area.

——

Read an earlier RWEE series on small generators by Buc Fitch:

Part I — The Good, the Bad and the Noisy
Part 2 —
Sizing and Selection: the Big Picture of the Small End of Power Generation
Part 3 —
Pragmatics 101: The Big Picture of the Small End of Power Generation

The post Be Smart When Thinking About UPS appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Frank Eliason
Posted: February 18, 2020, 4:53 pm

A simple change could make it practical, uniform and legal

The post Standardize Flea Power to Support AM Stations appeared first on Radio World.

flea sign
Credit: Getty Images/oleg7799

Let’s normalize post-sunset power levels on the AM band.

In the 1930s, AM radio stations began popping up everywhere. Many were granted 24-hour operation as there was little need to protect from nighttime sky-waves in the beginning. As more and more stations were licensed, we added daytime-only licenses, which meant a station could operate during the day-only because the sky-wave generated at night could cause interference hundreds or even thousands of miles away to a 24-hour station. 

Some stations could operate at night at reduced power, but the lower limit on a licensed station was generally 100 Watts, eventually lifted to 250 Watts for newer stations. Sometimes a multi-tower directional night pattern could allow operation at 250 Watts, but often, the nighttime plant was too expensive to build to be profitable and remain within budget. 

Some daytime stations could not go on at night no matter what kind of directional array they contemplated because of the need for total protection to other stations. They remained at a severe disadvantage, as they would not come on air until as late as 8:15 a.m. local time in winter. After a lot of pressure, the FCC allowed pre-sunrise operation of up to 500 Watts starting at 6 a.m. and going until sunrise. But stations were still required to go off the air as soon as 4:15 p.m., a huge problem. 

After more lobbying, the FCC came up with post-sunset authority (PSSA) and crunched the calculations for all daytime stations to grant night authorizations that would not create substantial sky-wave. The lucky stations were able to get power levels between 50 and 250 Watts, but others were given levels so low that the term “flea power” was adopted for stations allowed in some cases 5 Watts or fewer. 

A classic flea power example would be WHFB(AM) of Benton Harbor, Mich.; because they operate 5 kW days they were only allowed 1.3 Watts overnight service to protect KYW in Philadelphia. 

With commercially available transmitters going no lower than 250 Watts, engineers at the flea power stations had to come up with unique ways to get this level on the air. You younger engineers missed all the fun of trying to make that happen back in the ’80s when post-sunset was new and widespread. Many AM stations had to come up with “unique” and cheap ways to make it work.

Sure, you might laugh at an AM broadcast station running 1 Watt. But if that station’s tower is located in town, the 1 Watt broadcasts could be heard in at least a few neighborhoods. 

IT’S COMPLICATED

However, to get 1 Watt on the air was no easy or cheap task. Most commercial transmitters at the time were tube units with fixed power. For instance, a 5 kW unit might be switchable to 1 kW or maybe down to .5 kW or 250 Watts but not lower. Attempts to lower output below the design limit of the transmitter would often result in very distorted audio and unstable performance. Engineers had to come up with ways to bleed off power and send the remainder to the tower.

The universal method was to make a divider that would send the more substantial portion of the RF to a dummy load, as much as 500+ Watts, and the remaining flea power would go to the tower. This required RF contactor switches, dummy loads that could take continuous operation, and interlocks to pause the high voltage when the divider is switched in. Often a more sensitive RF current meter needed to be switched in to provide a clear indication of line current. 

To complicate matters even further, most stations were allowed to ramp the power down in half-hour intervals before hitting the tiny night output. An example would be a station running 1 kW days, 200 Watts at sunset, 85 Watts in the second half-hour and as low as 1.8 Watts in the second hour past sundown and then 1.3 Watts overnight. Some elaborate custom systems were designed to step the power down by shifting the ratio from the tower to the dummy load.

(I should also note that when trying to get the FCC authorization document for PSSA, which may have been lost over the years, you will find that the FCC only publishes the final night power. The ramp down levels noted in the letters are only available if you call or write the FCC Audio Division and make a request, but I have found they are happy to help.)

Some of us came up with an array of light bulbs to absorb power instead of a dummy, switching on more lamps in as the night went on. But as you can imagine, the impedance of such a system was not always predictable or stable.

Then came along LPB Corp. with a series of low power AM type-accepted transmitters with variable outputs that ranged from the maximum output of 5 Watts to 100 Watts, and each could be dialed back to flea power as needed.

As the major transmitter manufacturers built more modern units, multiple power levels were built into the designs, with most units being able to achieve five or six discrete power levels often as low as 5 Watts. But even the modern units that could do 5 Watts could not easily be modified to do less.   

Then, after a few years, LPB went out of business, and over time the flea-power LPB units failed, mostly due to inadequate cooling, and the cost to repair them was high — assuming the parts could be found. 

MAKING DUE 

All that to say: if a station was granted night authorization of less than 5 Watts and had a newer commercially made day transmitter, they might opt to just turn it down to the 5-Watt minimum and let it ride. Illegal? Technically, yes. But in reality, an FCC inspector would not cite you for this infraction, unless he had ice-water in his veins. 

But the rules are the rules. 

I suggest that we standardize the flea power to a minimum of 5 or 10 Watts for AM nighttime. That way, stations don’t have to fudge or come up with complicated ways to drop to something like 1.3 W, which no currently available commercial type accepted transmitter (that I have found) can easily do. 

I would hazard to guess that even the Class-A lobby would not oppose my suggested change, as the night impact on sky-wave at 2 Watts is not damaged much by increasing to 5 or, maybe, even 10 Watts. 

Also, standardizing the nighttime lower limit will make life a lot easier for stations that cannot maintain some of the Rube Goldberg systems that were designed to allow adequate power waste to achieve such a small output. 

But we will have to wait and see. 

Not every AM station has an FM translator, and some do still rely on flea power for night service. Let’s make it practical, uniform, and legal for all who bear ultra low output authorizations because they do the best they can to serve their area under less than ideal circumstances dictated by the laws of physics.

Langford is the owner of WGTO of Cassopolis, Mich., and W246DV of South Bend, Ind. He can be reached at [email protected].

The post Standardize Flea Power to Support AM Stations appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Larry Langford
Posted: February 18, 2020, 4:17 pm

As business development manager, he represents the company in the Middle East

The post Graham Murray Joins Calrec appeared first on Radio World.

Graham Murray has joined Calrec in the role of business development manager, effective immediately. Murray now represents Calrec in the Middle East.

Graham Murray

In his new position, Murray’s goal is to further develop Calrec’s business in that region.

According to the company, Murray boasts more than 30 years of sales experience across the broadcast, studio and post-production industries in the U.K. and worldwide.

He previously worked for Calrec, managing sales efforts in the APAC region and subsequently worked for Studer with a focus on the Middle East and Africa.

Prior to this, he held sales and engineer roles in the post-production industry for console/DAW manufacturers AMS Neve and Fairlight. Murray also set up and ran his own business distributing and supporting brands in post-production. More recently he established himself as a business development consultant for high-end audio manufacturers.

“Graham’s wealth of technical experience starting out as an engineer at AMS in the 80s, coupled with his extensive experience in the broadcast audio industry make him the ideal fit for this job,” said said Dave Letson, Calrec VP of sales.

“The industry is ever changing, and Graham’s level of technical knowledge and experience will truly strengthen Calrec’s efforts. His knowledge of the region also makes him an incredible asset to Calrec,” he said.

The post Graham Murray Joins Calrec appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Marguerite Clark
Posted: February 18, 2020, 3:14 pm

EBU’s Digital Radio Summit glances forward, outlining radio’s future models

The post EBU DRS 2020 Looks at Radio’s Next Steps appeared first on Radio World.

GENEVA — Undoubtedly, the FM switch off which took place in Norway in 2017 established an industry milestone.

EBU’s Director of Technology and Innovation, Antonio Arcidiacono, gives the keynote speech at the EBU Digital Radio Summit 2020. All photos courtesy of the EBU.

This was the first time ever FM radio was (legally) kicked out of the broadcast scenario (though some local broadcasters are allowed to remain on FM until 2022). It also marks a line that clearly divides the radio broadcasting era into before and after.

TURNING POINT

From that point forward and up until a few years ago, most broadcast conferences held in Europe had reserved one or more slots for speakers detailing the Norwegian switch off process, its findings and lessons learned. These sessions also discussed results in terms of radio’s growth, audience engagement, receiver sales and what happened the “day after,” etc.

On Feb. 12, the European Broadcasting Union’s Digital Radio Summit, an established annual late-winter meeting in Geneva brought together radio industry executives and stakeholders from around the world to discuss next steps and strategies.

This time however, speakers didn’t focus on the results of the FM switch off for the radio industry and its ability to adapt. Nor did they discuss digital terrestrial coverage advancements in given countries and respective FM shut down dates. The conversation instead veered toward more practical deliberations on implementation and tactics, knitting Norway’s digital transition into the radio’s longer-term history.

“Radio is alive and growing. When you innovate, when you change the way you provide content, people follow you.”

From left to right, panelists Sarah Toporoff of Netia, Cathinka Rondan of NRK, Cheyenne Mackay of SRF and Sinatou Saka of RFI, discuss podcast production, creation and publication.

Speakers still talked about terrestrial broadcasting but in the form of “how-to” discussions.

One example was the topic of using helicopters to install masts and antennas rather than cranes because it’s cheaper. Another was about using open source software bricks to set up audio encoders, multiplexers, modulators as well as the rest of the digital broadcasting chain. It was no longer about “if and when.”

A STEP FORWARD

The takeaway from the Digital Radio Symposium 2020 is that terrestrial broadcasting, analog or digital, is still a part of the game, but it’s no longer a critical item.

DRS 2020 thus took a giant step forward by targeting radio’s future in terms of how to manage content production, distribution and delivery in order to ensure the best results in the ever-changing market scenario. How to establish fluid distribution channels and reach an audience that today is charmed by new, often glittering, listening opportunities.

Notwithstanding the constantly changing backdrop, “Radio is live and growing” said Antonio Arcidiacono, EBU’s director of technology and innovation, in his keynote speech. “Radio has got resilience, it can be an example for other media.”

He pointed out how radio is growing in new markets, like podcasts, where it is growing also in young audiences’ preferences. “When you innovate, when you change the way you provide content, people follow you,” he concluded.

The post EBU DRS 2020 Looks at Radio’s Next Steps appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Davide Moro
Posted: February 18, 2020, 7:00 am

Read about digital radio in the UK, TOPradio’s live remote broadcast, Radiodays Europe 2020, and more

The post Inside the February issue of Radio World International appeared first on Radio World.

FM radio, mobile phone coverage and the internet are rarely available on the Orkney Islands in Scotland. This month’s edition features a story on the BBC Research & Development’s trial to assess if 5G can efficiently deliver the missing services to this remote community.

Also in this issue we share a few of TOPradio’s tech tricks on how to successfully managed a live remote broadcast and detail Malawi’s effort to unclutter the country’s FM Band. Read the February issue of Radio World International here!

COMMENTARY

UK Government Restates Support for Digital Radio

Digital Radio UK’s Ford Ennals outlines steps the U.K. government is taking to support radio’s future and its digital transition.

REGULATION

Malawi Reorganizes FM Band

The country’s communications regulator organizes a task force to clean up congestion, alleviate interference.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

The post Inside the February issue of Radio World International appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: February 17, 2020, 3:37 pm

Mark Jorgenson and Eddie Esserman look at digital AM, the radio business environment and the role of the media broker

The post 20/20 Vision: Prospective From Two Seasoned Media Brokers appeared first on Radio World.

Mark Jorgenson is president/owner of Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage and Eddie Esserman is managing director of Media Services Group. They were interviewed by Suzanne Gougherty, director of MMTC Media and Telecom Brokers at the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council. MMTC commentaries appear regularly in Radio World, which welcomes other points of view on industry issues.

Suzanne Gougherty: In today’s climate what do you see has the strongest advantage to using a media broker? For instance, we realize that during deals communications can break down and emotions can run high. This is one of many areas where brokers can help bring the two parties back to the table. What other skills to brokers have that many in the industry are not aware of?

Eddie Esserman: In any climate a media broker serves as a good insulator and facilitator between or among the parties. While in some cases brokers aren’t neutral, they are interested (and usually only compensated) when a deal gets done. Brokers know the village of deals and as the saying goes, “It takes a village.” That’s often the case in a deal. We almost always know the attorneys on both sides of a deal, frequently the engineers, consultants, and other parties in a transaction. In some cases, the parties may have been long time competitors and others friendly neighbors, both can hinder a deal’s progress.

Mark Jorgenson: Good brokers bring years of experience to each transaction. While no two deals are the same, experienced brokers have handled enough different situations that they can help the parties navigate whatever may come up in the negotiations. Buyers look at the transaction from their side of the desk and sellers see things from their side. Brokers are often the bridge that connects these two viewpoints. By getting each party to look at the transaction from a broader perspective, there’s a better chance they’ll come to terms and get the deal done. That’s a vital role a broker plays in every transaction.

[Read: How a Broadcast Multiple List Website Got Started]

Gougherty: Please tell us your 20/20 vision for the future of AM radio and how you see it changing for the best or the worst? Are there still enough new entrants to keep the AM dial alive with new innovative programming?

Jorgenson: AM radio definitely has more challenges than FM. It is an older technology and is more susceptible to interference and noise in today’s crowded electronic spectrum. It remains an effective vehicle for many spoken word formats and will likely remain so for a while. But, to be commercially successful, it will need to attract compelling and unique content that can’t be found anywhere else. That will require new talent and new ideas.  Both seem to be in short supply on AM.

Esserman: While there are a few entrants on the AM band, they are virtually all spoken word, and most not being programmed in English any longer. At best the future of AM is highly challenged. I note that Teslas, for example, do not include an AM radio. While I applaud the HD Radio experimentation on AM, I doubt that it will significantly alter the trajectory of the band’s future.

Gougherty: Have you seen an uptick in more new entrants in ethnic populations, or women buying AM or FM radio stations?

Jorgenson: Radio is a great vehicle to reach niche audiences. While many ethnic and foreign language populations in the U.S. live in concentrated areas, everyone is mobile, and radio does a great job of reaching a mobile audience.  Internet and phone apps are challenging radio’s role in reaching ethnic audiences but so long as there is local content that is important to the station’s audience, radio will continue to deliver.

Esserman: A little, but only that. I have seen some couples buying stations, which is great. Radio stations make great family businesses.

Gougherty: What should the FCC consider next for the growth and sustainability of radio in the next decade?

Jorgenson: I believe the FCC understands that radio competes in a very broad media landscape. It competes for audience and advertisers with other radio stations, TV stations, websites, streaming music services, phone apps, Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Many of these competitive media are not regulated like radio and therefore have significant market advantages. If the courts would allow more consolidation of radio ownership, the radio industry would be better able to face those new competitors.

Esserman: I believe the FCC is open to further deregulation on ownership caps as proposed by the NAB and any action on that front was at least sidetracked for now by the court ruling this summer.

Gougherty: Has access to capital or financing been an issue for your buyers? And if so what can the industry do to support new entrants — the incubation program?

Esserman: Most smaller deals now do include some element of owner financing. The Small Business Administration, while not an easy process to navigate is a good source. I’ve done deals that included an SBA element. There are consultants that are well worth their fees, to help get deals done.

The incubator idea is a good one. It’s mentoring with a bonus. I fear that as it’s presently in place it will prove cumbersome, hard to benefit the smaller broadcaster who could use a break, and have limited participation. I hope I’m wrong.

Jorgenson: The lack of access to capital is a major problem in radio, particularly for small deals. With the backing of the Small Business Administration, there are some banks that will do a radio deal if the buyer has sufficient collateral and is willing to personally guarantee the loan. Sellers are realizing that, to get their station sold, they may need to do a cash/terms deal and patiently wait for a few years for the total purchase price to be paid. I don’t see the current Incubator Program having a major impact on helping new entrants into ownership.

Gougherty: You both have heard of the “Krasnow Rule,” named after our MMTC vice chair, Erwin Krasnow, which is — “95% of deals get done because the buyer and seller like each other.” Please share an anecdote illustrating the rule?

Esserman: I’ve known Erwin for decades, and the Krasnow Rule was certainly true. When it’s true today it surely facilitates a deal. Over the past decade, I think that’s changed a bit. Often the buyer and seller don’t know each other today. When they do, it certainly helps if they do, or at least get to like each other during the process. When we were a less-consolidated industry owners couldn’t own many stations and had similar numbers of stations, originally no more than seven AM and seven FM? stations. That was broadened to a dozen.

So we are an industry of many individuals who had many opportunities to meet at both state and national gatherings, and friendships and mutual respects ensued. When the industry changed to allow owning hundreds of stations it just wasn’t likely that these larger owners, especially after a few iterations of leadership, would know those who held few properties.

Jorgenson: No one has seen more deals done in our business than Erwin Krasnow. And he’s absolutely correct that having a buyer and seller who trust each other makes the transaction easier for everyone. However, with over 10,000 radio stations in the U.S., most buyers and sellers do not know each other. It’s the broker’s job to help create the trust and report needed to get a deal done.

 

The post 20/20 Vision: Prospective From Two Seasoned Media Brokers appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Suzanne Gougherty
Posted: February 17, 2020, 3:35 pm

Now that infrastructure is in place, interested parties seeking a framework to bring DRM to the public

The post AIR Updates DRM Progress, Nears Public Launch appeared first on Radio World.

At a Digital Radio Mondiale stakeholders meeting in New Delhi, India, on Feb. 12, All India Radio (AIR) briefed more than 100 attendees that it has made great progress in its rollout of DRM.

Credit: All India Radio

AIR says that today it has 35 DRM transmitters in the AM band, four of which are now working in pure DRM digital mode.

The broadcaster adds that it has extended the pure DRM hours of transmission for the remaining sites, and that DRM transmission has also allowed for the broadcast of more varied content.

Public radio and TV broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s top management, including Mr. S. S. Vempati, CEO of Prasar Bharati. Photo courtesy of DRM.

With this progress, representatives of the chipset, receiver and car manufacturers say they would like to take greater advantage of what DRM has to offer.

They have asked that a framework be developed to bring DRM to the public, with clear milestones and a clear launch for DRM. AIR said that it is planning to develop a multiplatform publicity campaign to launch soon.

[Read: The Power of Digital Radio During Emergencies]

Ruxandra Obreja, DRM consortium chairman, is pictured with Mr. Yogendra Pal, honorary chairman DRM India, and Alexander Zink, vice-chair DRM consortium. Photo courtesy of DRM.

AIR also used the meeting to make additional announcements like the conversion of six more high-power medium wave transmitters to DRM. The broadcaster further highlighted the increase of pure DRM transmission times, the possibility of sharing airtime with private broadcasters and enabling the DRM emergency warning feature in conjunction with the Indian disaster national agency.

“With communication, cooperation and confidence, AIR, with the support of the various committed stakeholders in India, some of which are consortium members, can set a launch date to make available all the DRM benefits to the Indian population,” said Ruxandra Obreja, the DRM chairman.

The post AIR Updates DRM Progress, Nears Public Launch appeared first on Radio World.

Author: RW Staff
Posted: February 17, 2020, 10:26 am

The new Trump budget may not pass, but educational media must make its case

The post Community Broadcaster: D.O.A.? appeared first on Radio World.

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

Is it that time of year again?

President Donald Trump has introduced his proposed 2021 budget. Once again, the White House proposes eliminating public funding for educational broadcasting, except for two years of funding for wrapping up loose ends of legacy support.

Slashing public broadcasting has been in every White House budget since Trump took office. The president’s full budget will be released in the spring. Then, Congress will then have its say.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Coming Down on Content]

Each year, lawmakers have spurned the president. It is reasonable to assume amendments will happen again in 2020. Moreover in a presidential election year, when voter energy is especially passionate, it is likely cuts like public broadcasting won’t make it to the final budget. The bottom line is many in Congress are worried about their races. The budget is already a hot potato. Public broadcasting enjoys wide support among everyday Americans. Every incumbent’s record will be excavated by opponents. Savvy politicians are unwilling to give their rivals ammunition.

However, the left-field nature of the budget deserves attention.

Most Americans have heard of public broadcasting through public television and radio. It is doubtful many know how much federal funding goes to such programming. The interest group Protect My Public Media estimates funding represents .01% of federal spending. The grand total? This funding amounts to about $1.40 per American annually.

The White House contends federal funding is no longer necessary. In the budget, the administration zeroes in on the large public media brands in its justification for cuts. “Services such as PBS and NPR, which receive funding from CPB, could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members,” the proposed budget reads. “In addition, alternatives to PBS and NPR programming have grown substantially since CPB was first established in 1967, greatly reducing the need for publicly funded programming options.”

CPB counters these assertions by noting the diversity of public broadcasting.

In a Feb. 10 statement, Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said, “Through public media initiatives such as American Graduate and Ready To Learn, stations provide high-quality educational content and community engagement that helps Americans prepare for success in school and career. As the most trusted news source in America, local public media stations offer journalism that elevates local stories to a national audience. Further, public media stations’ infrastructure provides critical communications functions during local and national emergencies to first responders and emergency management officials.”

At heart is a need for common ground. If we agree in the importance of funding education, and the value in media as an educational tool, how can we support a system that we agree on?

In addition, one can ask that there is a greater commitment to expanding our nation’s investment in educational media. CPB does so much with its resources, but it is evident that it needs to be able to support many more initiatives. Media is so ubiquitous today. For the next generation, students go to the internet as often as they hit the books. Policymakers must look into expanding educational media funding to ensure the United States stays strong and creates even more opportunities to learn.

It seems highly unlikely many of the decreases Pres. Trump wants for the 2021 fiscal year will pass. Nevertheless, it is important for every station to speak loudly about the educational purpose they serve, and the need for the country to keep educational broadcasting part of its education arsenal.

The post Community Broadcaster: D.O.A.? appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Ernesto Aguilar
Posted: February 15, 2020, 1:16 am

Nonregistered users may face costs soon

The post C-Band Repack Could Be Costly for Many Radio Stations appeared first on Radio World.

Radio World has learned it’s possible that thousands of radio stations in the United States failed to register their C-Band earth station terminals with the FCC prior to its 2018 deadline and presumably will be ineligible for reimbursement funds set aside by the FCC to cover the cost of a C-Band repack.

The alarm is being sounded by a person on the infrastructure side of the industry familiar with Chairman Ajit Pai’s draft Report and Order to make the lower 280 megahertz of the C-Band (3.7–3.98 GHz) available for flexible use, including 5G, through a public auction.

Radio and TV broadcasters utilize 3.7 to 4.2 GHz for satellite C-Band downlinks. However, the draft order released last week indicates incumbent satellite services are expected to be repacked from the 500 MHz to the upper 200 megahertz of the band (4.0–4.2 GHz).

[Read: C-Band Auction Could Begin in December]

There are provisions within the FCC C-Band draft Report and Order that spell out reimbursements to radio stations with incumbent C-Band earth stations that will be impacted by the relocation of spectrum. However, an industry source closely following the issue says he estimates as many as 2,000 radio stations never registered their C-Band downlinks.

“I estimate at least 25% of radio stations did not register their C-Band downlinks before the fall 2018 deadline, and they will be cut off from reimbursement of their costs to upgrade dishes,” the person said. “Their decision may have cost them each $1,000 to $5,000 because new equipment must be installed on their dish to block upcoming 5G cellular interference.”

The satellite infrastructure insider says the FCC’s reimbursement plan is “quite generous” and will protect the majority of radio broadcasters, but unregistered earth station sites will have to pay for the new gear out of their own pocket. “That might be a $500 dish filter and a few hundred dollars for labor to repoint it, but what happens if the dish has marginal reception already. It might become unusable and then you need a new $4,000 dish and more money for a new pad,” he said.

The FCC acknowledges in the draft order there is concern by some in the industry that a substantial number of small rural radio and television stations and private networks that rely on C-Band programming failed to submit registration filings. However, the FCC says it will not open another window for the registration of earth stations, according to the draft order. There are approximately 20,000 registered earth stations in the contiguous U.S., according to the FCC.

“I’m sure all of the major broadcast groups took the time to register, but I know of many small broadcasters who ignored doing so,” according to the satellite equipment supplier.

For those who have unregistered earth band downlink, their only recourse apparently is to lobby the FCC for reconsideration. “If there are hundreds of radio stations contacting the FCC in the next few weeks, all asking for an extension to register their C-Band downlinks, it is possible they could get in on the planned reimbursement program, but only if the FCC rethinks the situation,” the person said.

The post C-Band Repack Could Be Costly for Many Radio Stations appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Randy J. Stine
Posted: February 14, 2020, 8:23 pm

Audinate’s Dante AV Product Design Suite to be used for product development

The post Audinate Tees Up Dante AV Product Design Suite appeared first on Radio World.

Audinate, Audinate DPS, digital audio networksAudinate’s upcoming Dante AV Product Design Suite will ship this quarter. The PDS is intended to aid users in creating AV-over-IP products that employ the Dante AV technology used in more than 2,500 existing Dante products from more than 450 different manufacturers.

The Dante AV Product Design Suite is designed to help OEMs to build an AV-over-IP endpoint with low latency over a 1 Gbps network. It provides interoperability for audio distribution and control, delivering independent, synchronized audio and video streams. Based around the Dante AV module, the Dante AV PDS may be modified, branded and differentiated by OEMs via software, control and integration with other members of their product lines.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

The Dante AV PDS is designed to be a feature-complete AV-over-IP solution for the professional AV market, implementing a codec, local HDMI and HDCP, ancillary data channels, and control. The onboard Dante AV Module provides Dante clock synchronization, control, discovery, transport, messaging, management, updates and more. A set of hardware documents, design files and a software SDK allows OEMs to create complete, fully interoperable Dante AV products with end-to-end HDCP support.

The Dante AV PDS includes a complete implementation of the intoPIX JPEG2000 codec supporting UHD and Cinematic 4K resolution, up to 60fps, up to 4:4:4 chroma subsampling, up to 10-bit color depth, up and down scaling, and ultralow latency dual block encoding and decoding.

The Dante AV PDS implements a software control stack which is accessed through the Dante API and Dante Controller. In addition to codec control, this software supports the routing of ancillary data channels for control over Dante, including USB HID, infrared, serial (RS422), and consumer electronic control for HDMI devices. All of these signals are transported over Dante and appear as routable channels, just like audio and video.

The Dante AV PDS comes with basic metal enclosure design, packaging design, preliminary EMI and thermal product scans, manufacturing instructions, and test fixture design guidance. Each Dante AV PDS contains two preconfigured Dante AV Endpoint Design Boards and five Dante AV modules in order to validate end-to-end performance.

Info: www.audinate.com

The post Audinate Tees Up Dante AV Product Design Suite appeared first on Radio World.

Author: ProSoundNetwork Editorial Staff
Posted: February 14, 2020, 7:55 pm

Also, the mousetraps just keep on coming!

The post A New Ultrasonic Leak Detector Pinpoints Leaks appeared first on Radio World.

Fig. 1: Amprobe ULD-420 Ultrasonic Leak Detector

You may be familiar with Amprobe; for years they have manufactured a clamp-on ammeter, which you clamp around a wire to measure the current. 

The company has released a product that detects leaks. It’s the ULD-420 Ultrasonic Leak Detector. The handheld detector is easy to use and provides an accurate location of an inaudible air or non-flammable gas leak. The detector can also identify vibrations and electrical discharge by picking up the ultrasonic sound produced by the leak or disturbance. 

This product sounds like it is ideal for detecting transmission line air leaks, but the manufacturer says it can also be used on plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, even motors or electrical systems. Read more at Amprobe.com; enter “ULD-420” in the search box.

***
Fig. 2: An inexpensive volt pen detects high voltage before your hand does.

I’m happy to report that big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot are now stocking the safety “volt pen” I discussed recently as a Telos representative on an SBE webinar. Head to the electrical aisle to pick up one of these lifesavers.

For those unfamiliar, it’s shown in Fig. 2. It’s an AC inductive probe that glows red when it senses AC voltage. Before reaching into any equipment, pass the volt pen around breakers and disconnects to ensure they are “off.” The version shown in the photo is a Southwire Non-Contact AC Voltage Detector, model 40116N. We also found it on Amazon.

***

Newman-Kees Principal Engineer Frank Hertel makes note of a relay contact transmitter and receiver pair that monitors eight separate switch contact input signals, and sends the status of each via an embedded device server to the matching relay output receiver. The combo costs under $900. Use it when you want to send contact switch or relay information over a Local Area Network or a wireless network link using TCP/IP protocol. The device is model IPG-8T and IPG-8R and you can get more information at www.fmsystems-inc.com/product/ipg-8tipg-8r.

While you’re on the site, click on the FM Systems Publications tab, then “Engineers Corner.” In addition to some interesting articles on relays and maximum cable lengths, read the article “When LEDs Act Like Photocells.” The article explains that in addition to providing an efficient light source, an LED can be used as a photocell to supply a voltage output that actually responds to the light levels in a room. It turns out that when light strikes the P-N junction of the silicon, electrons flow, generating a voltage, albeit a small one. You’ll find the article fascinating.

***

Frank also passed on an interesting note for engineers returning equipment for repair. 

He and his son Dave provide equipment repair services at Newman-Kees. They have noticed that some products were shipped by UPS but with final delivery handed off to the US Postal Service. Many of these shipments arrived damaged.        

This damage issue is not unique to Frank and Dave’s company. Other repair techs report similar instances of rough unconcerned handling. It appears to Frank that the problem is not UPS, but rather when the shipment is handed off to the USPS for final delivery. His suggestion is to instruct the UPS agent to ship UPS Ground (or UPS 3 Day Select, UPS 2 Day Air or UPS Next Day Air). Failure to stipulate a UPS service leaves it up to the agent to choose USPS Handoff Delivery, which saves UPS money.

So the bottom line is to be sure to specify one of the UPS services when shipping equipment, and ensure there is no handoff to USPS for final delivery.

***

Phil Florig, W9IXX, wrote to pass on a link to a small company that manufactures another version of the “walk the plank” mousetrap. Head to https://kentuckymousetraps.com/store to see several versions for both mice and rats. Phil just bought the rat version, we’ll wait for a report on its effectiveness.

***

Randall Davidson is the director of radio services at the University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh’s WRST(FM). Randall was pleased to see Dan Slentz’s submission about the Public News Service. Randall’s station uses it and has told others who are looking for a good, free news source. 

Randall also wanted to tell you about another inexpensive option for stations to consider. Feature Story News offers hourly five-minute, three-minute and 30-second audio newscasts each weekday via download from stable URLs. The five-minute version is the three-minute offering plus “FSN Extra,” a 90-second feature on one topic. The last newscast on Friday evening is branded “Week in Review” and can be used throughout the weekend. 

The network was founded in 1992 by former ITN reporter Simon Marks. They have reporters in 30+ bureaus around the world, providing video and audio packages for a variety of clients, and they offer this news service to radio stations for $15/month. 

Randall uses a software package called Radio Spider to download the newscasts twice an hour and direct them to buttons in their playback system, so the content is always fresh. WRST has carried this service since 2011, and Randall says he couldn’t be happier with their service. For information, go to featurestorynews.com.

This is another opportunity for engineers to demonstrate their usefulness to the radio station. Let your manager know about this; the price will make the GM smile, and whether or not they use the service, it demonstrates your interest and involvement in all facets of the radio station. 

***

With the New Year, set a goal and get certified by the SBE in 2020. Successful completion of any level of certification not only provides you with a professional certificate, but also a letter to your boss from the SBE, complimenting you on your achievement. An ideal combination for a salary review! Plus, recertification credit is provided to engineers who share a tip published in Workbench. Thank you for sharing your tips and high-resolution photos by sending them to [email protected].

John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE certification with the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

The post A New Ultrasonic Leak Detector Pinpoints Leaks appeared first on Radio World.

Author: John Bisset
Posted: February 14, 2020, 3:34 pm

San Francisco Public Press launches a time-sharing LPFM in the City by the Bay

The post KSFP Highlights Journalism, Public Affairs appeared first on Radio World.

San Francisco Public Press Executive Director Michael Stoll holds up a copy of the newspaper at the “Civic”/KSFP launch event.
Credit: Event photos by Jennifer Waits

Just a few blocks from San Francisco City Hall, news and public affairs station KSFP(LP) launched out of a “glorified storage closet” that once housed thousands of newspapers. 

The San Francisco Public Press, a 10-year-old non-profit, membership-based print and web newspaper focused on in-depth local news, is an unusual entrant into the community radio space, although it owes its very existence to a public radio-style model. 

“We always considered ourselves a newspaper inspired by public broadcasting, and now we have a radio station inspired by a newspaper inspired by public radio, so we’ve kind of come full circle in a way,” said San Francisco Public Press Executive Director Michael Stoll.

TIME SHARE

Hitting the airwaves in San Francisco last summer, KSFP joined time-share partner San Francisco Community Radio KXSF(LP) on 102.5 MHz. One of the last low-power FM radio stations to launch from the 2013 application window, KSFP broadcasts daily from 4 to 10 a.m., and from 4 to 10 p.m. via an antenna on Sutro Tower.

For about a year, San Francisco Community Radio’s KXSF was the sole station on 102.5 FM, transmitting during the other 12 hours.

Funding for the effort came from Public Press members as well as institutions like the James Irvine Foundation, the California Endowment and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Operations Manager Laura Wenus, left, interviews “Muni Diaries” co-founder Eugenia Chien and producer Peter Clarke.

While KXSF’s crew of volunteers was full of folks with radio experience, San Francisco Public Press staffers were less seasoned and sought help from the broader radio community, including KXSF, to get up and running. 

As the vision for the station crystallized, two experienced radio producers were brought on board to oversee the station and its programming. 

At an evening event last August, community media supporters gathered at Impact Hub in San Francisco’s Mission District to celebrate the debut of both KSFP(LP) and its flagship show “Civic.” It had been a long road to the airwaves for San Francisco Public Press; and radio veterans in the room shared that they were happy about the rare launch of a new radio station in San Francisco.

“ENORMOUS RESOURCE”

KSFP Operations Manager and reporter Laura Wenus and KSFP Program Director Mel Baker are the core team managing KSFP, with Stoll serving as general manager. Wenus and Baker also are host and producer, respectively, of “Civic.”

Rather than launching with a full slate of original content, they opted to start slowly, beginning with the radio show and podcast “Civic,” which developed out of the journalism being done in the Public Press newsroom. 

In the studio of KSFP(LP)

Stoll acknowledges that while there’s been a lot of buzz in journalism circles about podcasting, KSFP wants to ensure that it’s taking full advantage of the opportunity that it’s been given with LPFM. 

“Everybody’s been talking about this sort of pivot to audio in the nonprofit local journalism space really for the last two to three years. … People have been starting to take it really seriously, but most of the organizations have tepidly dipped their toes into podcasting … they haven’t put a lot of energy into the volume of content or staffing or the distribution. It’s often considered kind of an add-on,” Stoll said. 

Understanding that 12 hours of daily airtime on KSFP is an “enormous resource,” Stoll and team have tried to be thoughtful and methodical about bringing their current work to the airwaves. 

Although they are entering a crowded radio dial in San Francisco that includes a variety of non-commercial powerhouses, KSFP’s hyperlocal news focus sets them apart. 

“We have a reputation for truthful, careful journalism in print, and we’re translating that into other media in a way that is aimed at keeping the work that we’re doing in print and print style journalism on the web relevant to new audiences.”

With “Civic,” airing at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays), San Francisco Public Press hopes to not only have something “of interest to San Franciscans,” but that also “encourages and enables civic participation,” according to Wenus. 

“Civic” features interviews and stories focused on local San Francisco issues and news. To pique interest in the show, the launch party featured a live on-stage interview that would form the basis for a future episode. Wenus’ entertaining conversation with the team behind public transportation-themed storytelling blog/podcast “Muni Diaries,” had the audience engaged, with many sharing their own amusing and harrowing public transit stories during the Q&A that followed. 

Other recent shows have included stories about climate change, homelessness, mental health and San Francisco elections. With an understanding that audio on demand is increasingly important, “Civic” is running both terrestrially over 102.5 and in podcast form, with additional bonus episodes available online.  

For now, the station is an FM-only venture, with a live stream on its wish list. Wenus shares that one of the exciting aspects of the project is the simultaneous launching of a radio station, radio show and podcast. She said it’s been interesting “trying to straddle those worlds.”

“EXCITING POWER”
Mel Baker

From its small studio, Wenus and Baker record “Civic” and oversee the daily tasks of the radio station, slowly building out the schedule. It airs syndicated news and public affairs shows such as “Radio Survivor” and KQED shows like “The California Report Magazine,” “Political Breakdown,” “Making Contact,” “Bioneers,” “Reveal” and “Philosophy Talk” — and rounds out the remaining hours with PRX Remix, a stream of “stories, podcasts and documentaries” from non-profit media company PRX’s 24-7 stream. 

They’re also in talks with several independent audio producers for original programming that would have its broadcast home on KSFP.  The hope is that local producers will take to the KSFP airwaves, bringing additional programs to the schedule in months to come. 

The team is optimistic about its place in the media landscape. 

“There is just so much enthusiasm for the idea of … expanding the airwaves,” Stoll said, “and bringing new voices to the air and new choices.” 

Radio will allow them to reach new audiences. Baker speculates that, “Audio is a living breathing medium for communicating. People have more ear time than eye time. You can listen to more stories than you can ever read or watch, so that’s the exciting power of this medium.”

Jennifer Waits writes frequently about community, college and low-power radio. She is a co-founder of Radio Survivor, which produces a free syndicated weekly show that airs on KSFP.

The post KSFP Highlights Journalism, Public Affairs appeared first on Radio World.

Author: Jennifer Waits
Posted: February 14, 2020, 1:49 pm