Minneapolis-Area TV Network Boosts Infrastructure with Tightrope Media Systems

Northwest Community Television (NWCT), which provides local origination, public access, and government channels to cable subscribers in nine Minneapolis-area suburbs, has based its broadcast operation on Cablecast video servers from Tightrope Media Systems. NWCT recently added nine new Cablecast SXLE SD video servers to its infrastructure to support government access Channel 16, bringing its total to 13 systems enterprise-wide.

NWCT channels are carried by Comcast, which reaches more than 75,000 cable households in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. Channel 16 carries live and replayed video of city council and other meetings from city halls throughout the area. The channel also carries video programming specifically produced for each city by NWCT staff. The Tightrope solutions allow Channel 16 to efficiently narrowcast this programming, enabling residents to see meetings and other important information relevant to their municipalities without overtaxing server capacity.

Each new Cablecast system includes a Tightrope Carousel CG-310 server with digital signage software. This enables the central master control staff to transfer custom graphics to the remote Cablecast servers, which play out via Carousel software.

“We used to broadcast our government access programming from the videotape machines in our central facility, but recently decided to install nine new Cablecast SXLE SD servers—one at each of the nine city halls,” says Tim Gaffron, Municipal Media Services Manager for Northwest Community Television. “With the purchase of these new Cablecast servers, we increased the amount of programming and the number of replays the local municipalities could offer their viewers, while freeing up capacity on our central servers.”

At its central Brooklyn Park, Minnesota facility, NWCT has long used four Tightrope Cablecast SX2 SD, Cablecast Pro and SX2-HD video servers to play other NWCT channels to air, as well as several CG250 units for “billboarding”. These include: Channel 18, an electronic billboard that delivers local announcements and program information from Tightrope’s Carousel digital signage system; and public access channels 19 and 20, featuring programs produced by local residents.

Gaffron added that his desire to expand NCWT’s existing capital investment in Tightrope solutions is based on the network’s previous experience using the systems, as well as exceptional customer service received over the years. Alpha Video, a Tightrope dealer in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, handled the sale of the nine new servers.

“All of our Tightrope systems have proven to be reliable, feature-rich and user-friendly, supporting our multi-channel broadcast workflow in a very intuitive, automated way,” says Gaffron.  “Tightrope understands the needs of local origination and public access/government channels and caters to the unique needs of this market. We’ve derived many operational benefits from Cablecast, including reliable automation of our multi-faceted, multi-channel broadcast workflow.”

The new Channel 16 Cablecast systems reside in dedicated production control rooms built for each city hall. Video programming files can be sent between the central servers and the nine remote Channel 16 servers over a secure, private government fiber network. The video can play out from the remote server to Channel 16, or editors can download it into their video editing systems for other uses, such as excerpts for the news operation. Through Web-based monitoring, NWCT can start and stop recordings remotely; and program the system to automate these tasks.


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