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09 Sep 2011

Sharing the Graphics Wealth

Raycom is building a collaborative system that will enable the group's stations to produce more news

George Winslow -- Broadcasting & Cable

With more stations launching 4 p.m. newscasts to replace Oprah this fall, finding ways to create more high-quality graphics for the expanded news slate has become a growing problem.

"We have stations [at Raycom Media] that are producing over 40 hours of news per week," notes Dave Folsom, the station group's chief technology officer. "Finding a way to create more content without throwing more and more people at the problem is very important for us, and increasingly so for many other people. You've seen quite a move in stations countrywide to replace Oprah with 4 o'clock news, and everyone is trying to figure out ways to do that without adding extra people. Either you water down your product, which we refuse to do, or you can improve your productivity so you can maintain your standards, which is what we are trying to do with these upgrades."

To achieve that goal, Raycom is currently standardizing its newsroom graphics systems on the Chyron platform. Sometime in October, it will complete the installation of Chyron's new BlueNet graphics work at 26 of its 31 stations that produce local news, with the rest of the stations moving to Chyron in early 2012.

Besides the BlueNet system, Raycom is also deploying Chryon's Camio server, the iSQ remote monitoring and playout application and two dual-channel LEX3 on-air graphics systems at each of the 31 stations.

The upgrades will help Raycom expand the number of stations offering HD newscasts, achieving the group's goals of having all of its news operations in HD in 2012 and standardizing operations across the group.

Better productivity and collaboration between stations was, however, the biggest driver for the Chyron purchase.

Folsom notes that Raycom implemented a Wide Area Network connecting its stations in the 1990s. Recently, the group has worked with Bitcentral to deploy workflow solutions to share video between stations using the WAN. "Collaboration company-wide has been a dream for us," Folsom says. "We've been sharing video for quite a while, and now we will be collaborating on graphics as well."

This collaboration is particularly important for Raycom because many of its stations are located in adjacent markets and are heavily concentrated in the Southern coastal and East Coast regions. During the recent tornadoes that swept through Mississippi and Alabama, Raycom stations were able to use the Bitcentral Oasis system to share video. When the Chyron installations are completed, the upgrades will allow them to more easily share graphics and streamline the graphics creation process, Folsom says.

"A reporter or producer or anyone else can very quickly build a graphic" or go into the system "and drop and drag a graphic from another station," he adds.