Congratulations to LexMedia for launching a brand new High-Definition (HD) channel! And kudos to RCN Boston for recognizing the value of locally-produced programming, and for being the first private cable system in Massachusetts to grant a PEG TV station an HD channel.
“It’s important for public access folks to be up in the HD tier,” says Tom Steel, RCN Vice President and Regulatory Counsel, who facilitated LexMedia’s HD request. “I’m happy we could accommodate them, and we’ll open it up for anybody who wants to follow that same route.” RCN is currently in seventeen communities in the Greater Boston area.
LexMedia – which already operates the P, E, and G channels (in SD) for the community of Lexington – is using the new HD platform to showcase the “best of” their programs from all three SD channels. A lot of the content on those SD channels was originally produced in HD but had to be down-converted to match the channel capacity. Now, it doesn’t have to be anymore.
Florence Delsanto, Executive Director of LexMedia, says the transition from SD to HD did not happen overnight. “We’ve been working on this for awhile. Two years ago we got our first HD cameras. Last year we upgraded the control room. All along we’ve been talking to TelVue about the possibility of going to an HD channel. We have TelVue everything, and when the time came, TelVue made it pretty easy.”
At the core of LexMedia’s new HD broadcast capabilities is a TelVue HyperCaster IP broadcast server, which was integrated with existing TelVue equipment to enable the station to broadcast in both HD and SD. LexMedia also uses TelVue Connect for content ingest and transcoding, and TelVue CloudCast for internet streaming to all devices, including Roku and iPhones.
LexMedia came out with its own iPhone app, so the audience could take their viewing habits anywhere.
The next step in her station’s transition to HD, Delsanto says, will be to convert the permanent remote cameras that are used to record meetings in town buildings. “Nobody watches SD.”
RCN’s Steel says the go-ahead came after their technicians determined that the move to HD would not cost them any bandwidth beyond what was already committed to Lexington. As long as the station was willing to pick up the cost of the equipment, RCN would provide the channel. Given that RCN is one of three television providers in Lexington (Comcast and Verizon also serve the town), LexMedia’s HD channel could be seen as a competitive advantage, says Delsanto.
HD is just the latest in a string of innovations by LexMedia. Earlier this year they won first place in the Alliance for Community Media – Northeast competition for their live coverage of Lexington’s 300th anniversary celebrations, complete with two live switched remote locations. “It’s all about saying yes,” Delsanto believes. “If the community wants to do stuff, I’m going to figure out how to do it.”