PCTV Serves Up Local Programming with Tightrope Media Systems
Pittsfield Community Television (PCTV), a local 24/7 provider of three PEG (Public, educational, and government access) channels serving more than 20,000 cable TV subscribers in the Pittsfield, Dalton and Richmond, Massachusetts area, has upgraded its video production and playout capabilities with the latest version of Cablecast automation and playout software from Tightrope Media Systems.
Cablecast 6.0 offers a substantial improvement over previous generations, including a completely redesigned user interface to help users work across more devices, including cell phones and tablets. These improvements help the modest PCTV staff work far more efficiently—and achieve more operationally—across the broadcast and production workflow.
“So many of us now use mobile devices when interacting with the Cablecast software, so this was a helpful addition that comes at the perfect time,” says Shawn T. Serre, Education Coordinator and Chief Engineer at Pittsfield Community Television. “We also still use desktops to schedule our programming, and the software automatically adapts to whatever screen we use. Also, many of the menus and toolbars have been updated, making the user experience far more intuitive.”
PCTV seamlessly integrated Cablecast 6.0 software with its existing Tightrope hardware, which the broadcaster has leveraged and gradually upgraded for program scheduling, automation and playout since 2003. PCTV’s complete Tightrope system includes a Cablecast Pro VOD server (which also includes Cablecast automation software) and two Cablecast SX2HD 2×1 videos servers. These servers provide PCTV with a total of four playout channels (HD or SD), and two encode channels. Moving forward, PCTV can continue to upgrade and add new features without substantial hardware upgrades, reducing long term total cost of ownership for the entire system
“We started with the basic Tightrope PEG channel configuration, using Cablecast for our main server and automation platform, and the Carousel digital signage system for bulletin boards. We later added downstream keying, VOD, live streaming, high-definition server playback, and separately added Tightrope’s ZEPLAY instant replay system for our sports production,” says Serre. “Tightrope products are integrated to provide maximum impact with minimal workflow effort, and their software upgrades provide a level of enhancement one might expect with an entirely new system.”l
That minimal workflow effort is achieved through the system’s ability to intelligently automate and update information across the various Tightrope products. Serre points to how Carousel bulletins are updated with new information as schedule changes are made in Cablecast, with VOD files created at the click of a button. Additionally, PCTV’s web schedules update automatically, with effortless downstream key branding.
Serre adds that as a long-time Tightrope customer, PCTV has grown to rely on and appreciate their focus on customer service.
“The Tightrope folks have always been outstanding to work with, and they offer so much value for the money on the product side,” he says. “They listen very carefully to their customers, and integrate many feature requests that users put forward. The technical support and customer service are first-rate. On the rare occasion where I have had to reach out for help, they have been a phone call or remote desktop away, and issues normally get resolved very quickly. The products are fairly priced, the technology is straightforward and easy to master, and the reliability is unparalleled. We never have to worry that our workflow, from scheduling to on-air playback, will fail. It is truly ‘set it and forget it.’”