Continuity of Operations Thoughts

Discussion in 'Engineering Dept.' started by CrustyOldTVTech, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. CrustyOldTVTech

    CrustyOldTVTech Newsroom Intern

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    What has happened again to KHOU in Houston (flooded out of their studio) during Hurricane Harvey brings up a thought. DRCOP plans (Disaster Recovery and Continuity of Operations) might be the most important ignored document in any broadcaster's library, just as they usually are outside broadcasting. Until the disaster hits, that is...

    The difference I see with TV broadcasting is, lose your signal, lose all your revenue, right now, IMMEDIATELY with broadcasting, with other industries, maybe not so much...and, in addition, the very fact that you're off the air may be due to a newsworthy event that you need to cover. Sort of a Catch 22.

    What does a major market TV DRCOP look like? Not being in the broadcast business (though I do deal with such things constantly in my line of work, along with non-broadcast video and RF), it makes me wonder. Hoping for informed current broadcast engineering comments to this thread :)

    I would assume a good one would have multiple levels of failure and response.

    (1) Loss of RF STL - have a backup via IP/fiber/sat, etc. Can a live truck still be used to uplink/radiate direct to the transmitter nowadays (assume so, just like in the old analog days)? What about subchannels (lost for the duration, most likely)? Should still have live studios, sat downlinks, and playout servers available at studio, so no loss of traffic server, spots, etc.
    (2) Loss of cable/VSAT provider feed - ? This one nowadays would seem to me to be a biggie. What's the workaround? Cable provider use an OTA feed, if in coverage?
    (3) Loss of studio, temporary (like an evacuation due to a gas leak) - live truck provide origination from somewhere near the studio (pre-surveyed spot?) back to transmitter, take the short hit to revenue and ability to use playout servers, etc.
    (4) Loss of studio, short-term (like a pipe break flooding event) - have a backup plan with another local TV station (like KUHT with KHOU right now) to use a spare studio space for live origination, offload server duties, graphics, etc. to a sister station (like KHOU with WFAA/KUSA). Definitely not tolerable for the long-term. Or, outfit a back-up studio with some older server and graphics/switching gear somewhere in town, and use that temporarily.
    (5) Loss of studio, long-term (like 10' of water in your building for days) - Equip (beforehand or while in the short-term situation, depending on how much pain you want in the short-term and how much money you have beforehand to spend on a back-up facility) a back-up facility, and use it while the main studio is being R&R'ed, or a new one built out. Multiple stations in a bigger market might just be able to jointly do this to spread the cost.
    (6) Loss of transmitter plant - With ATSC 1.0, could move temporarily to another broadcaster's subchannel, otherwise have a back-up transmitter plant (like KRLD TV did for years after they built-out Cedar Hill), or go off the air while you rebuild, either a temp plant or the original plant. Going dark may not deprive the broadcaster of cable/sat revenue, but it sure will arouse the ire or the FCC if it's for long.

    Then there are the archives...I sure hope KHOU had most of their archival material backed-up offsite. Another section of the DRCOP.
     
    WCAUTVNBC10 and Weeters like this.

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