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ABC Radio News, Skyview Choose Pico XDS-Pro4

Pico Digital satellite receivers on order for new content distribution deal

An order has been placed for hundreds of satellite receivers so some 1,600 ABC Radio News stations and its other affiliates can receive their content from the broadcaster’s new distribution partner Skyview Networks in January.

We reported Thursday that as its 35-month deal with Cumulus ends in December, the new distribution partner for ABC Radio News will be Skyview Networks. ABC Radio News President James Goldston says the broadcaster is expanding its operations to invest in new programming, take control of distributing and marketing its content and deepen affiliate relationships. Skyview will also be handling affiliate programming sales.

Skyview President Ken Thiele tells Radio World the satellite receivers on order are Pico Digital XDS-Pro4 units (shown). Each device has four ports, allowing the unit to simultaneously decode four live incoming program channels; the unit also allows for content storage and timeshifting for affiliates to manage and consume programming.

When asked how many units would be distributed, Thiele said “We’ll be deploying as many as we need to,” and the figure would be in the hundreds.

ABC Radio News VP/GM Steve Jones tells Radio World the broadcaster has news bureaus in New York, as well as in cities such as Washington, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas and London. ABC news personnel contribute to products for radio, television and the newly-revamped website. The network doesn’t really distinguish how many employees are dedicated to radio versus TV for example, he said, and that the total employee count is “large.”

Content is managed through the ABC Radio News New York production facility and will be fed to Skyview Networks’ uplink facilities in Scottsdale, Ariz., using a redundant, diversely routed fiber connection. Skyview will then uplink that content to the satellite for distribution.

Among other programming, Skyview is known for its distribution of college play-by-play sports programming and sees the ABC deal “as a natural extension,” of that, according to Thiele.

Jones said because the company knew the Cumulus distribution agreement would end at the close of the year, executives spent some time deciding what the best thing to do would be. This deal positions the broadcaster and its affiliates for digital audio growth in the future, the company believes.