Barix IP Audio Devices Gaining Popularity in EAS Applications
Radio and TV engineers report success using Instreamer and Exstreamer audio encoding and decoding devices, Annuncicom 100 intercom devices in challenging situations
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, April 12, 2007 ? Barix AG, a pioneer in IP-based audio, intercom and control/monitoring, continues to establish its presence in the broadcast industry with its range of low-cost, high-performance IP devices. Radio engineers worldwide are using Barix Instreamer audio encoding and Exstreamer audio decoding devices for reliable STL and remote pick-up applications, and the devices are being deployed for Internet radio broadcasting. Barix customers have also increasingly been adapting these devices and the Barix Annuncicom IP intercom for EAS applications in professional broadcasting, including the first known use of Barix products in television.
EAS, an acronym for the Emergency Alert System, allows broadcasters to send and receive emergency information quickly and automatically, even from unmanned facilities. The FCC requires all U.S. radio and TV broadcast stations to install and maintain EAS encoding and decoding equipment, and operate required weekly and monthly EAS tests.
CTC Media Group, which operates four AM stations (WNOS-AM, WWNB-AM, WSME-AM, and WECU-AM) in the Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonsville market in North Carolina, began using Barix Instreamer and Exstreamer devices in response to its experiences with failing EAS equipment. ?Many traditional EAS manufacturers have gone out of business or no longer service the units,? said Mike Afflerbach, General Manager of CTC Media Group. ?Meanwhile the units are expensive, and broadcasters can receive some very hefty fines if the units aren?t operating correctly.?
Afflerbach, who had been using the Instreamer and Exstreamer for STL platforms at two of his stations, designed a plan to use the devices for EAS applications that would increase reliability and lower equipment expenses. He connected one Instreamer, based at the studio, to the output of an existing EAS system. Once initiated, the EAS system sends audio to the Instreamer, which relays the audio directly to the Exstreamer devices located at the various transmitter sites. The priority port in each Exstreamer sends the EAS signal to the transmitters for broadcast over the air, and the EAS Instreamer immediately shuts down following the EAS broadcast.
?This setup essentially means that one Instreamer can run EAS applications on any number of stations in a given market,? said Afflerbach. ?The Instreamer allows me to initiate and monitor my EAS applications from a single studio location for all four of our stations, instead of trying to maintain four separate systems that have equal chances of crashing. Traditionally, I would need these EAS decoders and numerous receivers at each studio or transmitter site, which incrementally raises equipment and maintenance costs. And since Barix was able to add the priority port to the Exstreamer, I can go directly to the transmitters and break into the primary streams at each location.?
Rob Hopkins, president and CEO of Open Broadcaster in the Yukon Territory of Canada, uses Barix for streaming EAS information from his home studio to three transmitter sites in Whitehorse, Tagish and Haines Junction as part of his Barix Instreamer/Exstreamer STL platform. According to Hopkins, the devices offer a reliable continuous audio stream in a region with extremely harsh weather conditions that often make transmitter sites, which regularly experience power outages, difficult to reach. This reliability provides an excellent means for communicating emergency information to area residents.
Open Broadcaster is an open source software solution created by Hopkins to run radio stations and audio service in remote regions. Listeners in the three Yukon communities can particpate and create their own shows through the Open Broadcaster web interface for playback on local FM stations.
?Since operators are rarely at these stations, the Barix equipment is programmed to prioritize emergency broadcast information over the main audio stream in the event of power outages, fires and weather-related emergency situations,? said Hopkins. ?The announcement can be uploaded by an agency or person with the appropriate permission using the Open Broadcaster software, and the Barix priority port immediately recognizes the EAS stream.?
Perhaps the most interesting new Barix EAS application is from Clear Channel Television in New York state, which operates a multi-station centralcasting configuration. The station group is using the Annuncicom IP intercom to pass EAS signals from its stations in Binghamton, Elmira and Watertown, to its Syracuse hub. Jeff Hartman, Engineering Project Manager for Clear Channel Television, Northeast Region, became aware of Barix as a company through radio STL applications and discovered the Annuncicom at a time when he was seeking a way to solve EAS connectivity challenges posed by regional centralcasting.
?One of the challenges of regional centralcasting is that while the EAS monitoring and encoding equipment is located at the local station where it can be manually controlled and monitor other stations for alerts, the actual crawl and alert audio insertion must be done at the hub location where the DTV encoders are located,? said Hartman. ?This requires a means of extending the alert audio and RS232 data for crawl insertion from the local station to the hub. The Barix Annuncicom 100 provides all of the interconnect functions we need to link the EAS equipment. It is a cost-effective solution and the devices are easy to integrate; we simply plug them into our existing network without any special connections or interfaces. The system makes little demand on bandwidth.?
Hartman added that the Annuncicom 100 is a far more efficient device than the T1-based solution they use for one of their other stations, and the originality of the EAS Annuncicom application reflects the station group?s history of pioneering new technology. ?As part of the former Ackerley Group, we were the first stations to implement digital centralcasting, and we tend to design and develop many of our own solutions in-house,? said Hartman. ?The Annuncicom application is one of many that gives our stations resources that would be difficult for our competitors to duplicate.?
About Barix AG (www.barix.com)
Barix AG, headquartered in Zurich Switzerland, specializes in research and development of state of the art IP based communication and control technology. Barix products are stand-alone and able to remotely connect worldwide over standard networks / Internet offering new and improved solutions to the professional audio distribution, communication and automation industry. Barix products provide solutions in audio over IP (audio distribution and monitoring, communication, security) and automation (remote controlling, monitoring and maintenance).
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