Oklahoma Broadcaster Deploys Sentry for Quality Assurance and FCC Compliance

Griffin Communications uses Tektronix Sentry to monitor growing content and document compliance with the CALM Act.

Like many US broadcasters, Griffin Communications faces a growing challenge to comply with a host of FCC regulations and to monitor the QoE it delivers to viewers. Griffen employed the Tektronix Sentry series of video network monitors for deep insight into the video and audio quality of experience (QoE) it is delivering to viewers and to demonstrate compliance with the CALM Act for audio loudness as well as with close captioning requirements.

“With all the various pieces of content it is becoming harder and harder to do a complete QC on every piece of video before it goes to air,” said Jack Mills, Director of Engineering for KWTV/News 9, the CBS Oklahoma City affiliate owned and operated by Griffin Communications. “We spend a lot of time and effort to ensure video and audio quality, but if the captioning isn’t there or the audio doesn’t completely comply with the CALM Act, we need to know about it.”

To that end, Griffin Communications installed Sentry Edge video network monitors across its broadcast facilities and stations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Optimized for monitoring program content, Sentry Edge provides unique insight into video and audio QoE, including compliance to the CALM Act and the presence of closed captions. Sentry Edge also provides full reporting and alerting capabilities along with detailed statistics and simplified graphs.

“It’s amazing all the video and audio content we have flowing through our facility every day across transmissions, microwave systems and everything else. But all of it ends up in that one spigot and its very nice to know that Sentry is there letting us know if we have an issue or not,” explained Brandon Tyler, Engineering Operations Supervisor, for Griffin Communications. “We also like the fact that Sentry keeps a 60-day log for us. So if someone were to say ‘two weeks ago you had a problem,’ we could refer back to the log to see that no we didn’t or yeah, we did.”

A big advantage of Sentry for the busy engineering staff at Griffin has been its reliability and ease of use. “Once we set Sentry up with everything we wanted to monitor such as CALM compliance, bit rate and a few other things, it’s been set it and forget it,” said Mills. “It’s very easy to get in there and generate reports or diagnose something quickly and just about anybody on our staff can do that. And when we’ve needed it, such as during initial set up, the support from Tektronix has been incredible.”

The Sentry system was recently put to the test when the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters conducted a mock FCC inspection of Griffin’s operation, which the broadcaster passed with flying colors. “They liked what we were doing especially with Sentry,” Mills said. “We showed them the log and were able to demonstrate compliance. From a legal standpoint, Sentry provides peace of mind that we are in compliance.”

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