The European Central Bank selects BCE for advanced live streaming

Following a European Invitation to tender, the European Central Bank selected BCE for handling the webcasting of live and on-demand monetary policy decisions press conferences.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank of the 19 European Union countries which have adopted the euro. The ECB was looking for a video partner to ensure the coverage of the Governing Council press conferences and other event webcasts.
BCE was selected for its advanced webcasting platform allowing content reception, transcoding, packaging and worldwide distribution.

 

This project benefits from the recent acquisition of Freecaster, combining expertise and know-how of both companies to perfectly answer the needs of the ECB.

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Connected to RTL City, its headquarters, via dark fibre, the teleport of BCE will ensure the downlink of the ECB production feeds. With its advanced IP-based infrastructure, BCE can transcode the live content and repackage the streams. BCE’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) will then ensure the worldwide stream distribution.

“For this project, BCE will rely on three pillars, its teleport, allowing content reception from anywhere in the world, its 1000 square meters datacenter with IP connectivity and transcoding platforms and its CDN with a worldwide connectivity,” explains Baptiste Fosséprez, Products & Services Development Director at BCE. “The software technology layer will be a mix between BCE’s existing streaming solutions and Freecaster advanced solutions.”

The live streaming expertise of Freecaster grants access to new solutions such as an advanced video player. Besides the stability of the player and its classical features such as adaptive streaming and multiplatform compatibility, the system will be completely customized to ECB’s needs and will integrate a video teaser with a countdown before broadcasting and multilingual selection during the live stream.

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The videos will be distributed as live stream and as Video on Demand (VoD) on the ECB website as well as on social networks including Periscope, Twitter and YouTube. The live stream workflow will be monitored from BCE’s Network Operations Centre (NOC) during each production and the ECB will have access to advanced statistics tools to both measure the audience and monitor the quality of service.

“Acquiring Freecaster was part of BCE strategy to develop its Total Video offer. The ECB project reflects perfectly the new dual expertise of BCE (linear and non-linear), with the combination of live broadcast and a VoD portal.” Concludes Frederic Lemaire, CEO at BCE.

Broadcasters look to virtual programming to exploit their content libraries

More than a third (36%) of broadcasters are failing to utilize their content library despite facing increasing competition from streaming services, according to research by ATEME.

Although almost all (98%) of the broadcasters surveyed use their content library to create new channels for particular events or occasions, the majority (82%) are impeded in the ability to do it quickly, unlike their streaming counterparts. 44% of broadcasters revealed it takes them up to three days to create a new channel, while over a third (38%) say it takes them up to a week, which not only hinders their ability to capitalize on events but could result in potential revenue loss.

“With a continuous influx of competition from all angles, broadcasters must begin to do more with their content libraries. Creating new, virtual channels would allow broadcasters to take advantage of topical and cultural events, such as award season, during which they could use their back catalogue to quickly develop one-off channels to celebrate winners as they are announced,” commented Remi Beaudouin, Chief Strategy Officer, ATEME.

As broadcasters explore ways to use technology to maximize their content, almost two-thirds (60%) of broadcasters are utilizing virtual broadcasting to create one-off channels, while of the broadcasters not currently doing virtual broadcasting 70% said they will do so within a year.

“For over half (52%) of broadcasters this ability to capitalize on unexpected or timely events without disrupting usual viewing schedules is seen as the biggest benefit of creating one-off channels. This approach also allows broadcasters to widen their appeal and cater to niche audiences with targeted or local content which 46% of broadcasters think virtual broadcasting would help them achieve,” said Beaudouin.

While currently very few broadcasters are able to create new channels quickly, the use of cloud technology, which 66% of broadcasters would consider moving to, could allow them to adopt a more proactive approach to creating virtual programming.

“Virtual broadcasting can be highly beneficial for broadcasters as it allows them to create tailored channels in just a few hours and use their catalogue to better effect. This will allow them to offer content that is different from that shown on their main channels and appeal to a wider audience,” added Beaudouin. “As traditional broadcasters continue to face opposition from streaming platforms, adopting virtual broadcasting is an ideal way to compete with their services as 50% of broadcasters see one of the biggest advantages of its use as the ability to offer a package other broadcasters currently aren’t. It will also enable them to cater to the increased variety the modern TV viewer has come to expect.”

Riedel’s Bolero Wireless Intercom on Stage at Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London has adopted Riedel’s Bolero wireless intercom to ensure reliable and flexible communications across the 10,000-square-meter building and the adjacent Lilian Baylis Studio. Located on London’s iconic Rosebery Avenue, the theatre is renowned as one of the world’s leading dance venues, staging contemporary dance and ballet performances in its 1,560-seat main auditorium. The theatre also has a unique link to Riedel’s home city of Wuppertal through an ongoing residency with the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, a partnership that spans more than 35 years.

As well providing a stage for visiting companies, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre is a producing house with a number of associated artists and companies creating original works for the theatre, and many locally produced shows are also recorded for cinema. Visiting OB trucks that are also equipped with Riedel Artist systems can easily interface with the theatre’s systems, creating smoothly integrated workflows and tremendous convenience.

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Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London has adopted Riedel’s Bolero to ensure reliable and flexible comms across the 10,000-square-meter building and the adjacent Lilian Baylis Studio.

Bolero covers the spacious theatre with only four antennas. One is located at the side of the stage, with another in the auditorium and the third on the fly floor, which also covers all the dressing room corridors and backstage studios. The fourth antenna uses the IT department infrastructure and covers the cafeteria and the entire Lilian Baylis Studio. The setup also provides coverage for all basement areas including technical offices, dressing rooms, and the orchestra pit, and even provides full coverage in the Sadler’s Wells Studios — despite the studios’ separation from the antennas by several concrete walls.

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“The Sadler’s Wells team has taken full advantage of Bolero’s customizability and has fully tailored the system to the theatre’s needs,” said Nacho Lee, UK Sales Manager at Riedel Communications. “The team has made extensive use of Bolero’s profile function, giving each full-time member of staff a dedicated Bolero beltpack that has been set to a profile specific to that person’s requirements. In this way, parameters like volume, screen brightness, and quick menus are preset to the user’s liking.”

Mark Noble, Head of Sound at Sadler’s Wells, has designed highly creative workflows for Bolero using the theatre’s NSA-002A interface. In one example, the team has reassigned Bolero’s red reply button on stage managers’ beltpacks to open a channel to the paging system through the 4W-Interface. This enables stage managers to use the paging system to make backstage calls to all the dressing rooms and other backstage areas from wherever they are. With another profile, the reply button switches between brightness modes to allow the user to remain unseen onstage. The theatre’s NSA-002A sits on a comms network switch that is attached to Wi-Fi, making it easy to reconfigure on the go using a tablet.

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“People are amazed by Bolero’s battery life, coverage, and overall user friendliness — and the integrated bottle opener has also come in handy. This versatile system really has worked wonders for us,” said Noble. “With the newly released Bolero 2110 (AES67) mode, we will enjoy an even greater degree of flexibility and scalability, so it’s a great thing that the new license is already included in our stand-alone license. We were looking for truly future-proof equipment and have found it in Bolero.”

Pictures © Philip Vile.

janda Productions to grow the digital reach of Huawei New Zealand TV Awards with Grabyo

janda will use Grabyo’s browser-based video production platform to clip, edit and share video clips from the Huawei Mate30 Pro New Zealand Television Awards to social media in moments. By providing live social video updates, janda will ensure the awards can be accessed from anywhere in the world by increasingly mobile-centric audiences.

The production company will increase exposure for event sponsors and raise awareness of the event with branded video bumpers, automatically added to clips distributed through Grabyo.

janda will also raise awareness of the awards by leveraging the social reach of New Zealand’s finest television talent who will be in attendance.

Once clips are created using Grabyo, janda will share relevant branded clips with high-profile influencers at the event and encourage them to distribute across their own channels. By tapping into the social networks of actors, directors, and producers across New Zealand’s TV industry, janda is able to reach a highly targeted audience with tailored video content.

Andy Dowding, Co-founder and Director of janda Productions, comments: “The Huawei Mate30 Pro New Zealand Television Awards is a huge night for the local media industry. The awards have grown each year in popularity and we want to make sure the night is enjoyed by as many people as possible. This is why we will be creating more content for our channels than ever before, as well as sharing content with the faces of TV in New Zealand – to make sure everyone can celebrate the achievements of this fantastic industry.”

 

Elliot Renton, Head of APAC at Grabyo, added: “We’re excited to help janda Productions enhance the digital content offering of the Huawei Mate30 Pro New Zealand Television Awards. janda is a market-leader, and combining its expertise with the power of Grabyo’s platform will result in something special for New Zealand’s TV industry. This partnership will allow janda to connect to social audiences with quality content.”

janda Productions will use Grabyo’s Studio platform to clip, edit and distribute content to its social channels in real-time. Grabyo Studio is accessed through a web browser, only requiring a laptop and internet connection to use. The platform’s intuitive tools reduce the cost and complexity of digital video production and distribution to all major mobile, social and online video platforms.

Leighton Broadcasting Streamlines Audio over IP Transport with GatesAir Intraplex Ascent

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, announces that Leighton Broadcasting—a St. Cloud, Minnesota-based radio station group—has replaced hardware-based, point-to-point IP STL systems with its software-defined Intraplex Ascent Audio over IP transport platform. The project represents the first commercial implementation of Intraplex Ascent for software-based transport, as well as the industry’s first application of Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) for broadcast audio streams.

Intraplex Ascent delivers several immediate and long-term benefits for Leighton Broadcasting. The architecture leverages common off-the-shelf servers at aggregate studio and transmitter sites, consolidating the transport of audio and program-associated data over IP for five radio stations serving the St. Cloud market (KCLD-FM, KCML-FM and KZPK-FM, plus two FM translator signals).

The SRT application strengthens reliability and security as a low-latency open source media streaming protocol that provides packet encryption and re-transmission capabilities, along with browser-based monitoring and control tools. Intraplex Ascent’s built-in Dynamic Stream Splicing (DSS) application further protects each station’s signal integrity by diversifying SRT data across redundant networks.

Intraplex Ascent reduces cost and complexity for Leighton Broadcasting by eliminating five separate hardware codecs at the receive end to serve five distinct transmitters. Ascent’s high-capacity configuration will support up to 16 distinct audio programs in one rack unit, providing plenty of room for additional Leighton Broadcasting stations moving forward.

“The scalable nature of the Ascent architecture gives us the flexibility to first simplify program transport for our St. Cloud stations, and gradually transition our entire group of stations across Minnesota and North Dakota as we see fit,” said Tony Absalter, Director of Engineering for Leighton Broadcasting. “The ability to control and monitor Audio over IP transport for multiple stations at once from a centralized hub is one of Ascent’s greatest attributes. We also appreciate that we can configure the system to send signals to our main and auxiliary transmitter sites, as well as to boosters and/or translators, with the ability to re-route signals on short notice.”

 

“GatesAir has long taken an aggressive approach to migrating broadcasters to IP networks for program audio and data transport, consistently bringing new innovations to market that help our customers lower costs, streamline connectivity and add services,” said Keyur Parikh, Vice President and General Manager, Intraplex Product Group for GatesAir. “Intraplex Ascent amplifies these benefits by providing a quicker path to all three, without the need to buy new hardware as each new radio station is added.”

Over IP and higher education

While « Over IP » is the new trend on the media technology market, the number of companies adopting this technology evolves sluggishly. Following the latest IBC, the technology is clearly there, but there is a lack of knowledge on the system integrator side to provide both IT and Broadcast expertise in environments with are evolving towards the perfect blend of both technologies.

Two years ago, Broadcasting Center Europe set the ball rolling, with the first over IP headquarters including the broadcast centre, the production and postproduction platforms as well as the ingest and news workflows.

IP-based platforms allow us to rapidly setup new channels,” comments Costas Colombus, Technology Projects & Support Director at BCE. “Whereas it is for continuous or ephemeral channels, we are able to give a fast answer and start broadcasting the content worldwide.”

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Playout over IP at Broadcasting Center Europe

“We recognized a strong consumer demand for pristine content but need to also provide for that demand in the most cost-effective and efficient manner,” said Julian Ankiah, Head of Technology Engineering at MultiChoice Support Services. “We needed to take advantage of the benefits of IP signal reticulation, while ensuring tight integration with our existing platforms, and particularly our business services.”

Multichoice moved to an IP playout platform thanks to Imagine Communications, Megahertz started to work with major US broadcasters for the implementation and tests of IP, CCTV renovated its platforms with NDT and RadioFr and La Télé, both swiss private broadcasters, upgraded to an all IP broadcast centre with SLG Broadcast AG.

“MEDIAParc is the first all-IP mediahouse in Switzerland, and as such it represents the successful realisation of an ambitious vision encompassing cross-media workflows,” said Marc Straehl, CEO of SLG Broadcast AG. “RadioFr wanted all-IP infrastructure for both radio and TV sides of the house. They wanted to virtualise the production environment, so that editorial PCs could contribute programming directly via the network.”

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Studio at RadioFr

What about audiovisual education and high schools? It is paramount to make the roots evolve as soon as possible, in order to have qualified employees in our next generation media companies. Of course, it is part of our job to train the actual staff to meet the new technology, but it would be much more effective to change the student curriculum and include immediately over IP knowledge.

Recently the BTS Audiovisual Henri Martin, in the City of Saint-Quentin in France, decided to upgrade to IP SMPTE-2110 its infrastructure. The school decided to keep both SDI and IP technologies, in order to be sure that their students will be well prepared for any type of infrastructure. The choice is quite smart, since there is still a lot of media players that are not equipped with this technology, but it will be an undeniable asset for the companies to have employees which can evolve easily with future upgrades.

Jacques Tabary, the headmaster of Henri Martin High School told us that they were looking forward to evolving to IP for a long time but that they did not know themselves how to start such a transition. To do so they were helped by Boite à Outils Broadcast which helped them draft a specification and publish a tender. Broadcasting Center Europe (BCE) was selected and worked hand in hand with the teachers and the students to answer all their needs in technology and training.

“We have fifteen teachers on the technical part at the BTS. You must rely on teachers who have been able to take this type of training, but also on professionals – for example we have a chief editor who comes from Canal+. As part of this project, we had not sized the importance of training on the hardware and related new technologies such as IP. BCE has trained our teachers so that they can acquire the skills necessary to use the equipment,” comments Jacques Tabary.

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Production control room over IP at the BTS Henri Martin

A few weeks ago, we heard that Orange Business Services, a network operator and a digital services integrator teamed up with BCE for the Radio France project. The massive French radio group has announced that it will transform the media infrastructure of its headquarters, Maison de la Radio, to next generation, full IP technology.

“The combined expertise of Orange Business Services and BCE, complemented by the professionalism of Maison de la Radio’s project teams, will allow us to innovate and facilitate the production and broadcast of programs while meeting the highest standards required by the media sector,” comments Patrick Fasso, Technical and Information Systems Director at Radio France.

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Radio France headquarters

Bogotá TV Station Citytv Automates Live Closed Captioning with ENCO enCaption4

Upon careful evaluation of ENCO’s enCaption4 automated closed captioning system at four broadcast trade shows, Colombian TV channel Citytv opted to put the challenges of manual captioning to rest. The TV station serving the capital city region of Bogota has since increased speed and accuracy while reducing captioning costs by 75 percent.

Citytv, owned by media company Casa Editorial El Tiempo, licenses the Citytv brand from Canadian communications company Rogers Media. The station, which broadcasts on UHF channel 21, follows a mandate that requires Colombian over-the-air TV stations to provide closed captions in 75 percent of their programs between 6am and midnight. Citytv captions its daily news program, Citynoticias, along with other popular shows such as Arriba Bogotá and Bravissimo.

“We have closely monitored enCaption4’s development, and it clearly has reached the level of accuracy we required,” said Walter Gomez Zuluaga, Engineering and Operations Manager, Citytv. “We now have a solution that fully automates the captioning process, better serves our hard of hearing viewers, and ensure we meet all regulatory obligations.”

The speed by which enCaption4 generates closed captions, especially compared to the manual “listen and talk” speech recognition system that it replaced, was a key factor in Citytv’s decision. Building on ENCO’s patented automated captioning approach, enCaption4 combines machine learning with a neural-network speech-to-text engine to deliver exceptional accuracy with extremely low latency.

“We typically encountered a 10-to-15 second delay between the spoken word and its on-screen caption with our previous system,” said Gomez. “enCaption4 has reduced this gap to just four seconds while maintaining a high degree of accuracy. Furthermore, the 75 percent reduction in operating costs will deliver an estimated return on investment of roughly 24 months.”

Gomez notes that enCaption4 is always ready to caption, and can operate 24/7 in a completely automated manner. While the system can be deployed on premises or in the cloud, Citytv preferred to install it locally in its broadcast master control room. There, it’s configured to receive a program video signal with embedded audio. The captions generated by enCaption4 travel over IP to an Evertz encoder, which embeds them into the live broadcast video.

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Citytv also interfaces enCaption with its MediaCentral (iNews) newsroom computer system (NRCS) to familiarize it with specific words that it will interpret into captions. Using MOS standard protocol, enCaption4 can access news scripts and rundowns from any NRCS and learn correct vocabulary, spellings, names, places, and other special content that will be mentioned in the local newscasts. It retains these terms in its ever-expanding internal dictionary, becoming more valuable to the user over time.

Continual product development has also resulted in enCaption4’s ability to distinguish between multiple people speaking. This new multi-speaker distinction functionality leverages AI to detect changes between speakers even within a single mixed feed. enCaption4 today supports more than 30 languages with accurate spelling, capitalization, and punctuation to strengthen caption quality.

“We’re pleased with our enCaption4 system’s performance and reliability, as well as our technical support experience with ENCO,” Gomez said. “It’s clear that this company has our back.”