TV news programme Current Time is a new joint production of Radio Liberty and the Voice of America. It is a ground-breaking news partnership undertaken with public and private broadcasters and Internet portals in Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Drawing on a network of reporters throughout the region, it presents a daily half hour mix of live news coverage, interviews, original features, and political satire. It offers content not available on state-controlled media to provide a new angle on local events.

For this new video-based venture, the audio specialists of Radio Liberty leveraged its existing news experience, as Systems Administrator Michal Weiss explains:

“We obviously already had journalistic resources in place, but it’s our use of Octopus Newsroom to manage our agency feeds over the last few years that has made a real difference to our video news programming.”

Originally installed for the radio news operation some six years ago, the use of the specialist news software had been limited to managing incoming multi-lingual wires. As many as 120 concurrent users were logging into the system which was a central part of the radio news production workflow.

“Octopus6 was useful but we were under-using it. It was when investigating how to organize the video news department that we understood its full potential. We looked at Czech TV’s news operation and this reinforced the ability of Octopus7 to deliver the whole news planning and production functionality we needed, far beyond the feed management features we had been using.” He continues.

As Radio Liberty’s video broadcasting was to broadcast a single news programme a day, the initial budget was limited. This meant that a fully integrated MOS solution was out of reach. The team opted to use Newtek’s Tricaster video production system whose API communicates with Octopus via Newsmaker’s Newscaster tool. Using watch-folders, files and data are copied between Tricaster and Octopus, creating place holders, scripts and rundowns ready for playout.

Now, instead of manually importing text into the prompters, the Autoscript devices communicate directly with Octopus, automating and accelerating the production workflow.

This new solution means that journalists can make full use of Octopus’ feature set: they are now able to work as a team on stories, organize reporters’ activities, track the progress of reports and preview video clips.

“The workflow is extremely effective, leading to a huge increase in productivity. Octopus’ automated rundowns and collaborative features are exceptional and the system is extremely stable. Importantly, the whole system has been significantly cheaper than a typical broadcast solution, which is crucial for us as we develop our video presence.” Remarks Weiss.

As a broadcaster operating in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, the multi-lingual and multi-script abilities of the newsroom have proven vital. Other features of Octopus such as social media integration are now ready to be rolled out to journalists, giving reporters original news feeds and another means of communicating breaking stories to online viewers.

Milan Varga, Technology Partners Manager at Octopus Newsroom observed:

“We were delighted when RFE contacted us regarding their plan to start news broadcasting. They already had the right tool, but it wasn’t used to its full potential until now. It was a great experience to work closely with RFE team and to integrate with NewsMaker Systems on this interesting project.”

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