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Washington State PEG Channel’s Master Control Upgraded

A requirement of the new master control unit is that it can transition to full HD-SDI

Professional video and audio systems integration firm Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) completed a master control upgrade for public, education and government (PEG) channel Pierce County Television (PCTV), located in Lakewood, Wash.

Overseen by the Rainier Communications Commission (RCC), PCTV operates two government channels and one educational channel from its facilities at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood. Among the PCTV produced programs are Pierce County News, a weekly news program produced in its studio, and Rainier Country, an Emmy-nominated newsmagazine. PCTV also provides coverage of government meetings for Pierce County and six local cities.

The previous master control unit supported two-channel SD composite video output for PCTV and University Place TV (UPTV), a channel dedicated to the city of University Place. However, the new master control also needed to support Clover Park Technical College Television (CPTC Television), an educational channel with its playback equipment located in a separate room in the same building.

In addition, a requirement of the new master control unit is that it can transition to full HD-SDI, said Ben Ramsey, PCTV cable operations specialist. “We saw on the horizon the opportunity to move to HD,” he said. Currently, studio and field footage is shot in 1080i using Panasonic AG-HPX300 P2 HD cameras, then down converted for cablecast. However, PCTV recently received confirmation from Comcast, its cable carrier, that PCTV will be distributed in HD starting in 2013.

In response to those conditions, ABS arranged for PCTV staff to meet with equipment manufacturers so the station personnel could research options. PCTV then designed the system and put it out to open bid. After winning the bid, ABS worked with PCTV to refine the system and make suggestions for improved operation. Installation of the new master control began in October 2011, and, after several weeks of testing, the three stations were switched to the new system in February 2012.

Based around PlayBox Technology automation, the new master control includes three AirBox playout servers and Capture Box capturing. Additional new equipment includes Tektronix test and measurement tools; a Blackmagic Design router to handle the new SDI signals; and Blackmagic OpenGear A/D and D/A converters. Nonetheless, PCTV still has “a lot of legacy equipment,” Ramsey said.

However, the upgraded space is “a lot more productive,” Ramsey said. It includes a separate control station, which is converse to the former system, where all work was performed at the equipment racks, and a Harris Predator multi-display controller feeds two 42-inch Panasonic LCDs at the control station.