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View this story is Sound & Video Contractor
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, July 14, 2020 – Greater Northshire Access Television (GNAT-TV) provides gavel-to-gavel government meeting coverage, informative programming, and extensive hyper-local news to residents of eleven towns in Southwest Vermont. Already leveraging the Cablecast Community Media platform to efficiently publish their content across cable, online and OTT outlets, the station has taken advantage of recent Cablecast enhancements to enable new remote operational models during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Amazingly, we’ve had no decrease in the amount we’re producing, we’re just doing more of it remotely...We have actually been getting more community participation, as our virtual studio via remote meeting platforms makes it so convenient for guests."
GNAT-TV offers its government, education and public access channels on the Comcast Cable system and online at www.gnat.tv. Using Cablecast’s full-featured development API, the station seamlessly integrated Cablecast’s automated VOD publishing capabilities with its WordPress-powered website. “All of our government VOD content is created through Cablecast,” said Tammie M. Reilly, executive director at GNAT-TV. “The ease of publishing through the Cablecast system and having it appear dynamically on our website is key to the efficiency of our workflow.”
GNAT-TV recently began using Cablecast’s VOD chapter marker feature to not only create more convenient online viewing experiences for its community, but also to advance their own goals for “The News Project”, the station’s hyper-local news programming. “For years, residents had been requesting a way that they didn’t need to watch hours of full government meetings to find what they’re interested in,” explained Reilly. “This feature allows us to add chapter markers that viewers can use to jump right to a specific agenda item, but for us, what makes it even more valuable is how it ties into and informs our news productions.
"...Our news director [pulls excerpts from meetings] as News Project segments, while enabling people to watch them in the context of the full meeting on VOD. The chapter marker feature may sound administrative and simple, but it really contributes to the big picture goals of what we are trying to do as an organization.”
“The same person who does the chapter marking also produces news stories, and in the process of chaptering learns a lot about what’s going on in the eleven towns we serve,” Reilly continued. “He can share that information with our news director and pull out excerpts from the meetings as News Project segments, while enabling people to watch them in the context of the full meeting on VOD. The chapter marker feature may sound administrative and simple, but it really contributes to the big picture goals of what we are trying to do as an organization.”
Last year, GNAT-TV further expanded the availability of its programming to OTT viewers. Using Cablecast’s Screenweave OTT Pro option, the station can effortlessly offer its live and VOD content to OTT viewers through its own, custom-branded Apple TV app and Roku Channel. “While cable television is still very much in demand in our region, we want to be forward-looking and bring these new technologies to our community,” said Reilly. “We also want to build a new audience in the younger demographic who never had cable, and by letting them access content the way they prefer to watch, hopefully we can interest them in participating as producers.”
While the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order during the COVID-19 crisis forced GNAT-TV staff out of their studio, they have continued producing content while adapting to remote operation. “Amazingly, we’ve had no decrease in the amount we’re producing, we’re just doing more of it remotely,” said Reilly. “We have actually been getting more community participation, as our virtual studio via remote meeting platforms makes it so convenient for guests. Operationally, it’s forced us to take a fresh look at our established workflows to find more efficient ways of doing things, so we’re now taking advantage of recent Cablecast features that we hadn’t started using yet.”
One of those key capabilities is Cablecast’s remote file upload feature, which allows users to copy file-based content onto their Cablecast server and associate metadata with it from anywhere with an internet connection. “It’s been huge for us,” praised Reilly. “Staff in rural areas with very slow internet – as low as 3Mbps upload – still need to drive near our studio to use our 100Mbps symmetrical connection, but we couldn’t keep adding new programming without this feature.” GNAT-TV also uses Cablecast’s live IP input feature to bring real-time YouTube streams from the Governor’s thrice-weekly press conferences into their channel while also recording them for future playback. “This is essential for bringing the Governor’s updates to our viewers,” said Reilly.
Last but not least, Reilly lauds the Cablecast team’s commitment to their market. “Their corporate culture is appealing, as their roots are in community media and they share our values,” she said. “We enjoy the ability to interface directly with their team and provide feedback to their developers. It gives us a platform for us to be listened to, and they take our suggestions to heart.”