Nexstar Broadcasting Works With Cobalt Digital On Text-to-Speech Solution

Cobalt Digital collaborated with Nexstar Broadcasting Group, to produce a software solution with text-to-speech capabilities to help broadcasters serve the needs of blind and low-vision people in communities throughout the United States.

The customized text-to-speech software, called “+TTS,” is compatible with many of Cobalt’s Ross Video-compliant openGear cards and its BBG-1000 stand-alone units. Customers can purchase an optional software license for the cards to help ensure compliance with FCC-mandated requirements and the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (21CCVA) by the deadline of November 30, 2015.

“As an early adopter of checks and balances to ensure 21CCVA compliance, Nexstar has an intimate understanding of what broadcasters need to best serve the blind and low-vision community,” said Bob McAlpine, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Cobalt Digital. “Their direction was invaluable in helping us create text-to-speech software with the right functionality for the job.”

The +TTS product is a 21CVAA-compliant text-to-speech generation/audio insertion solution for embedded or discrete audio systems. The software monitors network and local watch folders for new text files (plain text, xml, ascii, or html), converts the text to realistic human-voice audio, and inserts it into user-configured audio channels (typically an SAP channel pair intended for playout). These text files are generated from existing graphics hardware that provides the visual text crawl on the lower third of a television broadcast.

Media organizations can use the +TTS to prioritize alerts (for example, severe weather alerts taking precedence over school closings) and is designed to be independent of a station's graphics engine or engines. Alert tones are put in on the main program channel to alert the visually impaired that emergency content is about to occur on the SAP channel. Alerts can be played a configurable number of times, and alerts with higher priority can interrupt current lists for breaking news. After the interrupt message is broadcast, +TTS automatically reverts to normal audio programming. Compatible Cobalt cards and modules provide keyed text scrolls for added synergy when used in conjunction with optional +KEYER.

Cobalt’s +TTS comes with a built-in, user-definable dictionary to substitute plain phonetic spelling for hard-to-decipher words and proper noun phonetic emphasis. An English-language speech engine is standard, with advanced engines available as expansion options. Cobalt will use Acapela text-to-speech voice synthesis modules from Acapela Group to provide the highest-quality voices.

The +TTS capability can be installed, even if the station does not have an existing openGear infrastructure. Simply use Cobalt's BBG-1022-FS stand-alone unit.

The +TTS capability can be installed, even if the station does not have an existing openGear infrastructure. Simply use Cobalt's BBG-1022-FS stand-alone unit.

The +TTS software is available for many Cobalt card models that use the 20-slot openGear frame architecture. Existing openGear users can easily incorporate the software in the field by installing a microSD card. Those without an existing openGear infrastructure can use Cobalt's BBG-1022-FS stand-alone unit with the +TTS software solution for compact, straightforward integration into a broadcast facility. Both form factors offer a dedicated, broadcast-quality solution with redundant power and fully hot-swappable components for maximum reliability in 24/7 operations.

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