Splitting coverage into markets

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dbuckley
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Splitting coverage into markets

Post by dbuckley » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:07 pm

Our little station is about to have a small collection of translators (the first was supposed to be online May 1st...) and I've had this idea that with some jiggery pokery i could have different adverts playing at each translator, the same way that some national stations split up into regions for ad breaks, which I think Mrs Sales would like as she can sell the same 30 seconds spot a few times over.

It seems the terms for this trick are "local insertion" or "spot replacement".

I know one station I listen to is using in-band audio tones to do the split and re-combine, as I can hear them! I have a kinda-plan as to how I could make this work in a semi-affordable manner, but I'm curious to know what the professionals use to do this, and despite much googling, I'm unable to find anything useful. So, just who makes this kit? Or do the big boys do what I'm considering and just assemble stuff to make it work?

TPT
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by TPT » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:22 am

For the most part, not legal--unless you are outside the U.S. You can insert one 30 second spot each hour, but that's it. Go read 47 CFR Section 74.1231, especially paragraph (f).

awsherrill
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by awsherrill » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:15 am

I believe OP is outside the US.

Wide Orbit has something they call "leader-follower" that does automated split insertion. Not cheap but that's how the big boys (allegedly) do it. Some of the other automation providers may have similar solutions but that's one I know about.

TPT
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by TPT » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:23 pm

Another method (and yes-I see he's in New Zealand) is if you can get internet connections at the translator site--set=up a computer to insert & use touch-tone on an SCA to trigger the inserts.

But good translator sites usually being on top of a mountain, that may not work..

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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by NECRAT » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:00 pm

awsherrill wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:15 am
I believe OP is outside the US.
That would be correct. They are in New Zealand.
http://www.necrat.us

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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by Shane » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:14 am

Since streaming providers can do this, perhaps something based on that technology would fit the bill.

You might touch base with Winston at NextKast automation. He might welcome the challenge if he isn't already offering a solution.

Google NextKast.
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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:21 am

Here is a hardware solution. It decodes DTMF itself and specifically mentions commercial insertion in it's propaganda sheet.

DEVA Broadcast DB8000
Silence Monitor with MP3 and IP Audio Backup Players
BSW PART: DB8000

I thought that Henry Engineering had a box that would switch audio and play a playlist upon an external closure but I didn't see it on their current product list.

I also had a link to Blue Point Engineering bpesolutions.com that has a load of closure actuated audio player boards.

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dbuckley
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by dbuckley » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:49 am

TPT wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:22 am
For the most part, not legal--unless you are outside the U.S.
Yes, am outside the US; I've not looked at the licence docs, but I've had it suggested to me that what we have is multiple transmit licences, so we could in theory produce a completely different programme for each transmit location and be legit! On the other hand: we have a tame legal brief so before doing anything creative I'll get him to give it the once over.
awsherrill wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:15 am
Wide Orbit has something they call "leader-follower" that does automated split insertion. Not cheap but that's how the big boys (allegedly) do it.
That is one boat anchor of a solution, and would mean starting again, even if we could afford it.

OK, so here's my part-baked scheme.

At each translator site, I'll obviously need a receiver and transmitter to perform the straightforward translate function. There will also need to be some switchery to select the receiver, or an alternative source, which I think a solid-state MP3 player would do nicely, and there are some possibilities with boxes that have the switch and the solid state player in them already, usually as a silence detector and backup type combo. (There's some issues here with composite and RDS I'm not fully happy yet, so this is a bit of a thought in progress)

Problem 2: Control. At some point, the switch has to shift from receiver to MP3 player. And it has to do it at the right time and the right duration, which is trickier. TPT suggested SCA; this, in the form of RDS, was my first idea, as we already have an RDS encoder, but some reading of the RDS specs poured cold water on this; using the arbitrary data functions I could be waiting 16 seconds for my data to emerge from the receiver. No hope there.

Next idea was better SCA, and googling gave me Microsoft Directband on 76KHz SCA, but that was obviously a proprietary (and dead) technology. But that lead me to DARC, Data over Radio Channel, which looked perfect, (relatively) high bandwidth of about 16 kbit/sec. But... turns out that DARC was, by and large, a commercial flop, so there is no kit available any more, it's now just used in Japan and Sweden.

Next idea - use the Internet. Although the tranlators are in out-of-the-way places, there is (wireless) internet available, so use that. Stay with me here as this has a part 2.

Problem 3: how does the presenter (or automation if station is running unattended) handle this without it being impossibly hard? I started out thinking that the playout computer (using station playlist) could put out the main feed with an ad, and the translators switch away to their local ad. But the more I thought about it, the uglier this seemed. What I ended up thinking was that all the ads should be delivered from solid state players, even the main feed to the STL in the studio, and that way there is consistent handling. So in station playlist have a "timed break note" for the ads, that causes SPL to send a signal to something, and that would cause the ads to play, and then after 90 (or whatever) seconds, all switch back again. But it still needs and instant response at the remote translators....

So this is part 2 idea - have a presenter or station ident or jingle before the ads, a few seconds long, which is played from the "main" solid state player once triggered by the break code. A bit of computer smarts to work out GPS accurate time of when the jingle will end, and the translators need to switch away, and transport that time over the internet to the translators. At the appropriate time, on the microsecond, all the translators will break away to their local sources, and at the appointed end time switch back. This should be more accurate than relying on low internet latency to do the switch directly by command.

Now that is all looking do-able, and able to be built to be reliable and have high availability backup.

Problem 4: content. The right content needs to be on the translator flash disks. So something needs to know what the right content is, and transport it, probably over the internet, to the remote players.

Problem 5: Worse than all this, Mrs Sales has to be able to schedule this stuff, without it being impossibly hard, and preferably, being really easy. So I'm thinking she should use AdMaster, and treat us as several different stations. And then have some software that scans the AdMaster produced logs to put the right files in the right players at the right time. I'd like a slightly better solution than Admaster, but I suspect the next words I hear will be Wide Orbit...

So that's the crazy I'm musing on at the moment...

dbuckley
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by dbuckley » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:56 am

kkiddkkidd wrote:
Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:21 am
Here is a hardware solution. It decodes DTMF itself and specifically mentions commercial insertion in it's propaganda sheet. DEVA Broadcast DB8000
You posted whilst I was writing...

This will make you laugh. I like the Deva stuff, we've got a couple of their DB7000s. I've looked at their solutions in this space, but never at the DB8000 model, only the comparison chart, which doesn't have DTMF listed as a feature, and because of all those red blobs ion the middle of the chart, I never opened up the 8000 page, only the 9000-STC and 8008 models.....

Thanks for the heads up!

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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by TPT » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:04 am

Conventional SCA encoders/ decoders still widely available, using 67 Khz subcarrier--with DTMF tones for switching. Use the main automation system to fire a relay to send a DTMF tone on the 67 khz system, then use inexpensive SCA receivers at each translator site to pick up the tone to key a switcher and mp3 player. At the end of the break, reverse the process with a different tone. DTMF encoders and decoders are inexpensive from Broadcast Tools and CircuitWerks.

We've fed an AM station on a 67 KHZ SCA--so long as you have a good signal at the receive sites the decoder should have no trouble hearing the DTMF tones.

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:35 am

DTMF would probably be best but there is also 25/35hz or other subaudable tones on the main audio channel. As someone posted previously, subcarrier encoder/decoders are pretty common in the US. You might also look at FMExtra. I recall reading somewhere that it had some from of remote control function but don't recall exactly what or how. Lyle Henry ("The Radio Doctor") is one of the best resources in the US on FMExtra.

RDS would not be suitable due to the variability of the data delay/decoding.

I don't recall if SPL will control external relays. If it will control a BT switcher, you could use the switcher relays to trigger a DTMF or subaudible encoder at the studio to control the remote players. I would strongly recommend at least a 2 or 3 digit control code to avoid falsing.

OR you could try recording them and playing them out of SPL. The DTMF or subaudible tones would almost certainly have to be recorded as an uncompressed .wav to avoid corrupting them to the point that the decoder wouldn't recognize them.

Good luck.
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dbuckley
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by dbuckley » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:09 pm

TPT wrote:
Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:04 am
Conventional SCA encoders/ decoders still widely available, using 67 Khz subcarrier--with DTMF tones
Help me out here, TPT; could you name a couple of brands? My google fu is failing to find anything at all.

Edited to ad: it's the SCA bit I'm having trouble with, DTMF encoders and decoders not so much a problem.

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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by TPT » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:01 pm

Hmmm--you're right...seems like a product that has kind of disappeared.. Used to be a number of stations with radio reading services for the blind using 67 khz. equipment...wonder what they are using now?

Bohn Broadcast has a used Marti SCG-10 generator--this is a good unit. BohnBroadcast.com
Metrosonix.com has a variety of SCA receivers.

You can also find Dayton and McMartin (older) SCA receivers on the used market.

dbuckley
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by dbuckley » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:14 pm

Thanks; the Marti SCD/SGC pair look the ticket, and BE still appear to make them!!! Or, at least, they are not listed as discontinued. :D

Funnily enough I have a Metrosonic receiver...

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Splitting coverage into markets

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:57 am

I think that all of my clients are using Modulation Science SideKicks which do appear to be gone from the new market.

If you want to talk to Lyle about the FMExtra, hit me with a DM and I will get his email to you. I was mistaken about the control via FMExtra. It does not transport closures but will transport a serial stream that can then be used to activate whatever.

He also has a number of analog SCA generators on hand.
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Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
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