CMC, SES Americom Deal Could Benefit Small Ops

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The Comcast Media Center and SES Americom announced a joint deal to encode and distribute analog channels in digital form for cable’s digital simulcast needs.

Currently, the CMC is using three transponders on SES’s AMC-4 satellite to deliver digitized analog channels to Comcast Corp. systems for digital simulcast. That will expand from six to eight channels, and be available to all MSOs, according to Gary Traver, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the CMC and Bryan McGuirk, president of North American media services for SES Americom.

Traver said the CMC, which provides 160 video channels via its Headend in the Sky service, has been upgrading its encoding equipment, using Motorola Inc.’s pure pixel compression to create the best quality digital signal for widescreen TVs now on the market.

“We created an adjunct to that platform [HITS] for digital simulcast,” he said. There has been some tweaking of those digitally encoded channels headed for digital simulcast — making them compatible with 256 quadrature amplitude modulation units. “We’re focused on making sure the video compression in the format we’re delivering is next generation network architecture compatible,” he said.

Traver said the CMC is getting 12 to 1 compression on each transponder. With six to eight transponders, SES could handle 72 to 96 channels.

McGuirk said both SES and CMC sales teams will market the service. “We’re helping the cable industry play offense here,” McGuirk said.

Both executives believe smaller operators can save thousands of dollars in encoding costs by using the national feeds the CMC and SES are offering. “This is a better solution,” Traver said. “It’s a higher quality signal for lower bandwidth.” Traver added that the CMC is inserting digital program interface cues for local systems to insert advertising on these digital simulcast channels.

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