The Broadcast Engineer in an IT World
Most modern equipment in today’s broadcast facilities has
some form of IP-based interface. Satellite receivers, transmitter remote
controls, RDS encoders, Internet streaming, automation systems, audio editors,
transmitters, studio-transmitter links and content delivery systems are
The Associated Press recently transitioned to Internet-based
delivery of its data to affiliates. Some state news networks offer actualities,
interview shows and other content on their websites, as do program syndicators.
Most music is delivered to stations over websites instead of
mail-delivered CD. Commercial and music logs are scheduled on computer. Remote
broadcasts can be sent to the studio digitally with command closures, making a
board op unnecessary.
Keeper of the cloud
These technologies require hardware, software and reliable
integration of both, often involving multiple servers. Announcers, account
executives, traffic and office managers may require technical support on an
immediate basis, albeit most times with questions of a relatively elementary
Pecena uses a concept from Simon Wardley to illustrate that the most
hazardous phase in learning is when you think you’re an expert.
Today’s broadcast engineer must be fluent and capable in the
maintenance of these technologies.
“The broadcast industry has rapidly embraced an IT
infrastructure,” says Wayne Pecena, director of engineering at Educational
Broadcast Services in the Office of Information Technology at Texas A&M
University. “As a result, the broadcast engineer must be knowledgeable in IP
networking and IT technology to be successful.”
In the past an engineer had to be knowledgeable in audio,
transmitters, possibly STL and remote broadcast gear.
“The industry has seen many technology migration or changes
over time — tubes to transistors to microprocessors and so forth. The migration
to an IT-based infrastructure is the current technology evolution. Job survival
requires an immersion to the IT world.”
addressing and subnetting is essential to implementing IP networking. One question
Pecena encounters is “Why subnet?” He replies:
Subnetting is most often used to optimize network
performance by creating separate broadcast domains. These separate domains
prevent unnecessary broadcast traffic and faults from propagating throughout
the entire network by isolated to an individual segment. Network security can
be enhanced along with applying levels of administrative control to network
segments by organizing hosts into functional or logical groups. Subnetting is
often used to more efficiently use IP address space. This is especially
important in the IPv4 environment where address space may be at a premium.
Efficient utilization allows increasing organizational demands to be met in a
A discussion of terms such as AoIP, VoIP, system
administration, network security, file-based workflow and data center
architecture can assist the engineer in comprehending what he or she needs to
know to manage this new technology.
“Many devices have had an Ethernet jack and an IP address
for some time now. I see the movement to transform how the content is handled
within the infrastructure in that IP transport is used rather than baseband
audio/video. The broadcast plant becomes a ‘cloud,’ and the broadcast IT
engineer is the keeper of the cloud. In general, as all content is packaged in
an IP format, the plant infrastructure (or cloud) looks more like a data center
than the traditional broadcast plant. … IP networking is the foundation of this
environment, where knowledge of workflow, system management and security make
The presentation “The Broadcast Engineer in an IT World:
What Do I Need to Know and How Do I Learn IT?” is part of Saturday’s SBE Ennes
program “Video and Audio on IP to IPTV.” The presentation discusses the
technology and educational resources to make an engineer capable and competent
in an IT environment.