VOA Speeds World News Production and Air

The Voice of America (VOA) is an international multimedia broadcaster providing service in 44 languages. Serving an estimated weekly global audience of 123 million, VOA provides news, information and cultural programming through the Internet, mobile and social media, radio and television. Operating from Washington DC, VOA produces multiple worldwide streams in various languages providing news to the world community in their native language. Although VOA Program Schedules are published well in advance to advise viewers of when their native language program will be broadcast, VOA’s largest challenge was managing the unpredictable nature of news content developed each day by VOA’s Program Services.

For over five years, CEI helped VOA transition from an entirely tape based production to a highly optimized file based workflow. 24 hours news, in 44 languages can now be produced at VOA dramatically faster than ever before! Program segment requirements are initiated through VOA Traffic using Myers ProTrack TV. A Dublist is passed to Dalet Plus which is used to manage the content production and approval process. The required content lists are sorted by language and assigned for fulfillment to each of the VOA Program Services. Dalet Plus creates a placeholder for the anticipated program content, including expected run length and other associated metadata. A corresponding ProTrack Playlist is passed to the air channel’s Harris ADC Automation system and runs as scheduled. Program segments created by VOA Program Services are produced and delivered to an Omneon MediaGrid for review and approval. Once approved for air, the segment is moved to an Omneon Spectrum server, ready for play out under automation control. Uniquely, the duration of finished VOA program segments may not match the run length VOA Traffic had anticipated, normally requiring significant action by the Master Control operator to mitigate. Additionally, since the majority of VOA programming is aired several times each day, this same anomaly would occur at each play out of the finished segment.

Working closely with VOA stakeholders, the CEI project team focused on developing a system that would automate moving approved story content from production to air channel services. Ideally it would also include an exchange of segment metadata to update repeat segment play out. The significant efforts of all parties involved produced a system that enables Dalet Plus to automatically move finished content from VOA’s production systems to their air channel servers. A key component of this process is the ability for Dalet Plus to automatically update a running ADC Automation playlist, enabling manual or automatic action to fill the story’s run length shortage. The system also alerts ProTrack of the finished segment’s revised metadata for use in subsequent play out across all VOA television program services.

Challenged by a unique operational problem, CEI led an innovative collaboration among VOA staff, Dalet Digital Media Systems, Myers Information Systems, Harris Automation and Omneon to produce a highly efficient solution that automates dynamic content delivery from production to air!

About Communications Engineering, Inc. (CEI)
Headquartered just south of Washington, D.C. in Newington, VA, CEI is an award-winning system consulting, design and implementation company focused on the broadcast, audio-visual and multi-media industries. The company also offers complete equipment service, support and training, and supplies products and services to a wide range of large, medium and small commercial clients as well as non-profit and government agencies.  CEI Sales is a GSA reseller Schedule GS-03F-0046R and authorized service center.