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Cablecast Streamlines Crisis Communications for Nā Leo TV

PUBLISHED: 
December 9, 2020

See this story in TV Technology Magazine

Run by non-profit media services leader Nā Leo o Hawai’i, Nā Leo TV (NLTV) provides engaging PEG programming to residents of the “Big Island” of Hawai’i through three cable channels, its website, and its own mobile app. Unhappy with functional shortcomings and escalating support costs of its previous automation and playout system, NLTV switched to the Cablecast Community Media platform from Tightrope Media Systems to streamline its operations and bolster the station’s value to its community.

“The costs of our old vendor’s technical support kept going up, but we also had difficulty getting live support from them when we needed it,” said William Maffit, IT manager at Nā Leo TV. “The system’s features were also quite limited. For example, there was no simple way to bump a program in the schedule; we needed to delete it from the schedule and then re-enter it.”

NLTV’s CEO investigated Cablecast at a trade show and was impressed by its intuitive interface for scheduling and playout. That ease of use has combined with Cablecast’s powerful features to deliver the efficiencies the station was seeking. “Cablecast’s drag-and-drop capabilities save us a lot of time on programming and scheduling,” said Maffit. “Bumping a show is as simple as clicking on it and dragging it to a different time slot. We used to only program about a week ahead because it was so hard to make changes, but now we can quickly and easily program three months out – that’s how significant a change Cablecast has been for us.”

Maffit also lauds Cablecast’s ability to easily accommodate the unpredictable demands of live programming, which is particularly important given the station’s expanding live coverage of events such as high school sports. “If a live broadcast goes over its originally scheduled time window, Cablecast has the ability to join the originally-scheduled next program in progress, which we couldn’t do with our previous system.”

“What visitors see are filtered video galleries that are dynamically populated by Cablecast and organized by keywords, making it easy for people to find what they’re looking for. Those same VOD galleries are available to mobile viewers through our iOS and Android apps, which also provide island residents with push notifications of emergency messages in partnership with our local Civil Defense Agency.”

NLTV uses Cablecast Live and Cablecast Pro VOD solutions to dynamically publish its live channels and on-demand content to its website and mobile offerings. “We customized the CSS code from Cablecast’s included ‘public site’ templates to seamlessly integrate our VOD library into the layout of our website,” said Maffit. “What visitors see are filtered video galleries that are dynamically populated by Cablecast and organized by keywords, making it easy for people to find what they’re looking for. Those same VOD galleries are available to mobile viewers through our iOS and Android apps, which also provide island residents with push notifications of emergency messages in partnership with our local Civil Defense Agency.”

NLTV’s value to its community during emergencies came to the forefront in 2018 during the Kilauea volcano eruption, when the station turned its government channel into a 24/7 information center. Maffit used the tightly integrated Carousel bulletin board software – now offered in newer Cablecast versions as Cablecast CG – to display press releases from the Civil Defense Agency, which were combined with looping audio and daily updates from U.S.G.S. volcanologists.

"I was able to create all of the emergency information bulletins from home. This helped many people by providing pressing information about civil defense recovery efforts, and residents really appreciated what we were doing to support our community in a time of crisis.”

“Carousel can be updated through a web browser from anywhere with an internet connection, so I was able to create all of the emergency information bulletins from home,” recalled Maffit. “This helped many people by providing pressing information about civil defense recovery efforts, and residents really appreciated what we were doing to support our community in a time of crisis.”

Cablecast’s remote access capabilities have come into play again during the world’s current crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. “As a broadcaster we were still allowed to access our facility, but our CEO allowed us to work from home,” explained Maffit. “With Cablecast, we were able to do all of our scheduling from home, from recordings to live broadcasts, for close to a month and a half.”

Beyond Cablecast’s features, the affordability and accessibility of technical support have been among NLTV’s favorite benefits. “Tech support for Cablecast has been always there for us at two different levels,” explained Maffit. “Our integrator, Media Control Systems of El Cajon, California, provides outstanding service, and if there’s something they can’t answer, we work closely together with Tightrope. It has been very helpful to have both companies working alongside us.”

NLTV recently added an ENCO enCaption system to provide automated closed captioning of its Cablecast channels, and plans to integrate information such as school closures and storm watch notices into its channels in the future. Already, however, the Cablecast platform has helped the station achieve its goals. “Cablecast has been a very dependable solution for us at a reasonable price, and makes it very easy to manage our programming,” concluded Maffit. “It has been very good for our operations and helped us be even more valuable to our community.”

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