Portland Community TV Station Streamlines Workflow with Tightrope Media Systems

Public access station CTN in Maine multiplies efficiency with automation.
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CTN's Bill Blood checks the station's automation server. PORTLAND, MAINE, November 6, 2013 – Portland, Maine’s community television network CTN operates on a modest budget like most non-profit, public access TV stations. The station delivers on its mission to support, strengthen and enrich the local community with help from a lean, dedicated staff, smart operations and the right mix of technology.

Viewed locally on Time Warner Cable systems, CTN uses Tightrope Cablecast solutions to support two on-air channels and video-on-demand content at its website. Originally installed several years ago to simplify scheduling and multichannel playout, the station now automates on-air branding and has enhanced remote access through recent Cablecast upgrades.

“Cablecast is the core of our ingest and playout operation, as we use it to program both stations and update our website,” said Tom Handel, executive director for CTN. “But we really like Tightrope’s ability to deliver new updates that enhance the system at very reasonable costs.”

The latest enhancements include a new video overlay feature that integrates channel branding within CTN’s Cablecast SX video servers. This allows CTN to generate lower-corner station bugs and high-quality text crawls to promote upcoming programs. Selectable fonts and speed, as well as support for background and foreground images, allow CTN staff to customize insertions as needed.

“Our new video overlay feature brings this functionality to many public access and community TV stations for the first time,” said Steve Israelsky, broadcast solutions lead, Tightrope Media Systems. “Traditionally, channel branding and other video overlay requires transitional downstream keying hardware that is quite expensive and often not within the budgets of these stations. Our Cablecast customers like CTN can now achieve this functionality with a simple and low-cost software upgrade.”

CTN has also upgraded its Cablecast system to simplify remote access, allowing Handel and other staff members to easily access the servers over the internet. This enables the CTN staff to make scheduling changes from home, or switch to bulletin board feeds in the event of an after-hours technical problem at the station. Tightrope’s Carousel digital signage server supports all live on-air bulletin board feeds.

Collectively, these enhancements streamline the workflow at CTN, helping a small staff operate in a very productive manner across all technical phases.

“The drag-and-drop nature of Cablecast already makes the system easy to operate when it comes to media ingest, scheduling and playout, but the ongoing enhancements have helped us better manage operations against budget-related staff cuts,” said Handel. “We are saving about 20 hours a week in labor.”

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