News from Provys

What Makes Public Broadcasters Tick?

17 November 2019 #public
John Logie Baird with his first television system and high contrast dummies (the first TV stars)

When British inventor John Logie Baird first presented a functional television system on 25 March, 1925, in London, nobody could have possibly predicted that within less than 100 years, the average westerner would spend 10 years of their life watching TV. Following his invention, TV broadcasting developed mainly as a public service, being the domain of governments (except for the business-oriented US, unsurprisingly). Europe learned its lesson from the US after the Second World War and allowed the introduction of commercial TV broadcasting. The focus of this article will be principally on the development and current operating methodologies of the public sector.

The principal objective of public broadcasters is public service, i.e. “speaking to and engaging as a citizen”. The British model is generally accepted as a standard definition and embodies the following characteristics: universal geographic accessibility in which all parts of the nation must be serviced; universal appeal by which all sectors of the community must be able to find something interesting; attention must be given to minorities in order to achieve balance, a feeling of inclusion, a contribution to national identity and a sense of community; a clear distance from commercially vested interests; funding from either licence fees or taxation together with a certainty of universality of payment; striving for quality programming rather than financial figures, and regulatory guidelines that liberate rather than restrict broadcasting content.

“These solutions can provide a shining example of how technology can save costs and light the way to a bright future for broadcasters”
Jan Hrdlicka, Managing Director at Provys

In addition to the general guidelines, every public broadcaster should also encourage technological innovation, maintaining a leading position in research and development in line with its mission. On the subject of technology, it is incumbent to work in partnership with other organisations and to deploy the highest standards of R&D and new technologies. Today, these technologies are advancing at breakneck speed; viewers’ expectations are growing at a similar rate. It is, therefore, necessary for all technologies associated with both operations and management to keep pace with these rapid developments. A classic example of such change would be television archives which have transitioned from huge physical libraries of reels through digital cassettes and into different types of digital storage. Whilst in the past, we had miles of shelves of structured and well-described content which required physical manipulation together with a perfect description and categorisation of the content, today, the modern broadcast station has made its life easier by storing such content on highly accessible servers. Using a modern management tool such as Provys, operators can exploit all the benefits of full-text search, automation and even AI to locate and retrieve any required content, literally in a split second. Thus, broadcasters can do much more with less, meaning less time, effort and staff, to improve efficiency and the general quality of programming, including, for example, catering to minority interests, which may require different operational procedures. And this is particularly important in the public service sector which usually operates with licensing conditions that require this. By choosing a supplier with wide experience in this sphere, a public broadcaster can be empowered, even with their fixed budget limitations, to compete successfully with commercial stations who enjoy the advantage of more flexibility and funding options. In addition to daily operations such as planning, scheduling and traffic, modern software-based management tools are also extremely useful in reducing costs and streamlining the complex tasks of in-house production, a traditional activity of public service broadcasters. Furthermore, these systems, especially resource management and capacity planning, are able to shine an “IT spotlight” on the activities of operatives, alongside the spotlights which illuminate the events in the production studio. As a result, “the introduction of such modern systems may experience resistance from operatives who have previously been able to somewhat hide their efficiency in the shadows. But invariably, these solutions can provide a shining example of how technology can save costs and light the way to a bright future for broadcasters” says Jan Hrdlicka, Managing Director, Provys.

Celebration of Young Talent at IBC

10 October 2019 #youngtalent 

Karel Votroubek with his young 'uns

Returning again from the IBC in Amsterdam, I am now a little more optimistic about the future of the media industries, particularly broadcasting. I feel that this year brought a lot of new young blood to the show, heralding the long-awaited new generation who the dinosaurs, such as myself, hope to get to know with a view to sharing our knowledge and experience, before we bequeath the heavy responsibilities inherent in this rapidly developing sector to them.

The IBC 2019 has reported a rise in total attendance for this year’s show to 56,390 from 55,884 attendees compared to the IBC 2018. Most significant, however, is that the number of attendees, aged 35 and under, increased by 10% year-on-year, which is a record increase according to the organisers. This statistical trend follows closely the shift from hardware to software in our industry illustrating the need to leave behind ancient expressions such as PAL and SECAM which have been consigned to the history lessons as opposed to the modern classroom. Curious millennial technicians can, of course, attend a few history lessons in order to discover why we still use some old techniques such as interlaced frames to fool our eyes and save more and more expensive bandwidth.

It is admirable that the organisers of the IBC recognise and welcome this development, and as an illustration of their support, they introduced this year, for the first time, the IBC Young Pioneer Award as one of their future regular categories. The aim of this award is to acknowledge the welcome entry of a new wave of bright industry talent. The IBC's intention is to award a young professional who has made a real impact with their passion, ambition and commitment and is making an outstanding contribution to our industry. The winner of the first Young Pioneer Award was Vera Bichler, a graduate of the Broadcast Academy, and the first female director of football programmes for ORF in Austria. Congratulations to Vera! "What we were looking for from the candidates was, most importantly, real talent, an outstanding individual making a real difference in the industry," said David Levine, VP, Programming - Kids, Europe and Africa/UK & Ireland, The Walt Disney Co. Ltd and chair of the judging panel. “But we were also looking for a lasting legacy, for the Young Pioneer to be a leader today and a media guru of the future."

"IBC 2019 was a non-stop round of networking, fruitful meetings, late night discussions, interesting product launches and valuable conference sessions"
Karel Votroubek, Commercial Director at Provys

The presence of young blood was clearly visible at this year's exhibition and perfectly illustrated by Karel Votroubek (30 something), Commercial Director, Provys, who brought his young army of professionals with him to the show. As Karel observed: "IBC 2019 was a non-stop round of networking, fruitful meetings, late night discussions, interesting product launches and valuable conference sessions facilitating the learning and sharing of ideas with the considerable number of movers and shakers present at the show. 2019 also gave us an increase in the number of top broadcasting executives that we met. This year, we introduced four new keenly anticipated products offering more independence to broadcasters, based on a standard essential platform which can later be expanded and customised, as required. The new members of our portfolio are: Provys Everywhere which provides an extendable workflow management basis for broadcast operations; Provys Traffic Drive which offers all traffic functions in one integrated package; Provys Network Pilot which allows central management of multi-national linear operations allowing individual features in each country, and Provys OnDemand Bridge which delivers VOD workflow automation."

And so, with young blood increasingly at the helm, we can be a little more optimistic for the future, and look forward to their influence charting new courses through the stormy waters and challenging developments of the media and entertainment industry.

Broadcast Technology Reigns in Spain

10 September 2019 #rainsinspain 

Palace of Communications, Madrid, Courtesy of Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

"The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain." Do not worry, we are not going to teach you the correct way to pronounce the diphthong "ai:" or "ei". Actually, there are better topics about Spain to open a sparkling conversation in the high society of the television industry. For broadcast engineers and consultants, Madrid and Barcelona, the principal administrative and cultural cities of Spain, belong to the most enjoyable places in Europe to work (see the picture of the Palace of Communications, Madrid). It is no coincidence that AMC Networks International Southern Europe (AMCNISE) have their main offices in these two superb locations.

New York-based AMC Networks owns and operates several of the most popular and award-winning brands in television and film, including the cable networks AMC, BBC AMERICA (through a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv, as well as premium streaming video services Sundance Now, Shudder, Acorn TV, UMC and AMC Premiere. Its holdings also include independent film production and distribution division, IFC Films, television production and worldwide content distribution division, AMC Studios, and international programming business, AMC Networks International.

Their operations in Spain are channeled through AMC Networks International Southern Europe, a Madrid and Barcelona-based television company running HD and UHD channels in Spain, Portugal, and France. They produce and distribute thematic television channels for these markets, designed for all types of audiences: cinema and series (AMC, Canal Hollywood, Sundance TV, XTRM, Somos, Dark, and Blast); factual (Odisea, Historia, Crimen+Investigación, and Blaze); lifestyle (Canal Cocina and Canal Decasa); music (Sol Musica); and children's (Canal Panda and Biggs). They have also recently launched Planet Horror, the first and only direct-to-consumer service of horror films in Spain, in partnership with RedRum.

In 2017, AMCNISE decided to upgrade its broadcast management software and opened a tender inviting bids from several vendors in the market. The final decision on implementing Provys solutions was supported by the advanced functionalities of their applications, their flexibility and their full support on complying with the "end-to-end" needs of AMCNISE's processes. A local implementation partner, Datos Media Technologies, was also selected to provide on-site project support and expertise.

"AMCNISE's vibrant and growing business requires advanced technology solutions, and in this new era, it's important for all broadcasters to upgrade to the latest management software," says Jan Fiser, Main Consultant for AMCNISE at Provys. "In addition to providing a first-class scheduling system, we are also supplying a powerful control tool which allows AMCNISE to track their end-to-end broadcast operations. Special thanks must be given to Jose Nabais, CTO at AMCNISE, who with his team gave invaluable support to the implementation of the project."

"AMCNISE's vibrant and growing business requires advanced technology solutions, and in this new era, it's important for all broadcasters to upgrade to the latest management software"
Jan Fiser, Main Consultant for AMCNISE

The technical requirements demanded first-class integration of Provys with Tedial, a respected MAM solution, in particular, non-stop communication regarding the preparation of content for delivery, including requesting, confirming, quality control and positioning for playout. Further integration for playout was required with Marina, a renowned playout automation solution from Pebble Beach Systems which is also to facilitate 4K (UHD) delivery. A further technical challenge for Provys in this multichannel organisation was the configuration of user access rights to ensure confidentiality within each programme group. "Implementing an enterprise broadcast management solution in such a complex organisation as AMCNISE is a huge and demanding professional task, for which, we did not need that infamous 'Little Bit of Luck'. On completion, the whole project was a sheer delight for the Provys team" added Jan Fiser, Main Consultant and Famous Dancer, who then 'Could Have Danced All Night'. Wouldn't It Have Been Loverly?

My Fair Lady, a famous English musical, soundtrack:

  • Wouldn't It Be Loverly?
  • With a Little Bit of Luck
  • Rain in Spain
  • I Could Have Danced All Night

Different Interests, Different Pressures

19 August 2019 #different

The fifty thousand delegates who congregate at the annual IBC represent the elite movers and shakers of the media industries, and as such, their views and conceptions of the business are influenced by their own experiences and business objectives. As a result, their “expert” opinions may differ slightly from the middle majority opinions as would be shown on a typical demographic Gaussian curve designed to illustrate how the average person would consume his/her media and entertainment diet.

The broadcasting industry is under conflicting pressures from the different interests in the market. These include, for example, the younger generation who watch content from a wide choice of broadcasters and on-demand service providers, on a number of portable devices, in an infinite variety of locations and are, therefore, not too concerned about the resolution and technical quality. Further pressures come from those consumers who invest in the highest quality devices and consequently, they are sometimes disappointed if they do not enjoy the highest quality reception. These two groups are in contrast to the average domestic viewer who sees TV as a means of escape at the end of a hard day, and is not too concerned about the quality of the picture and sound. The truth is, that although they possess cheap but good quality HD receivers, they are nevertheless mostly fed a diet of artificially upscaled SD fare.

“Revenue streams in both the traditional linear and on-demand sectors are still strong and quite stable.”
Jan Hrdlicka, Managing Director, PROVYS

Relatively new major players come from the telco industry who now enjoy a considerable portion of the bandwidth and use this advantage to develop their own media and entertainment business. They come not only with traditional linear delivery e.g. live sports, but also with new platforms and generally non-linear means of delivery. Provys has been working closely with some of the major telcos, such as BT Sport, and not being too immodest, I should say that they are entirely satisfied with our support when entering the media and entertainment domain.

Finally, we would like to mention the big global on-demand content providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney who have experienced colossal non-linear growth in the last few years, taking a huge share of available investment for their developing business models, being both subscription and advertising based. Only time will tell if their commercial operations will produce a sustainable balance between attractive and money-making content.
Twenty years ago, the doomsayers of the media and entertainment industry were assuring us of the imminent death of linear TV on account of the rapidly developing non-linear means of delivery. Our experience from implementing Provys workflow solutions demonstrates that their fears were ill-founded as revenue streams in both the traditional linear, and on-demand sectors are still strong and quite stable. Provys develops sophisticated software for both linear and non-linear operators and we look forward to welcoming you on our stand, 2B49, at every IBC.

For the Rest of Our Lives

13 August 2019   #chillout

IT consultants enjoying the rest of their lives

Enormous changes in office design in the last fifteen years have seen the introduction of many non-business extras, the purpose of which is to pamper the rare and over-stressed grey matter of the specialists employed to improve the bottom line of their companies’ profit and loss accounts. Such extras probably started with the famous Google “chill out room”, and were soon followed by other innovations such as hot desking, biophilic design, water features such as fountains, fish tanks, tropical plants, etc., dedicated task areas, fully-equipped fancy kitchens with sophisticated coffee and snack-vending machines, games rooms, miniature libraries and more. And therefore, some geeks actually go to work to rest.

Focusing now on the world of media, famous for its reliance on modern technologies, we can draw interesting contrasts between the business of broadcasting and the software and hardware developers who service this sector. Broadcasters, exceptionally, operate in a unique environment in which entertainment, creativity, excitement and enjoyment are present in abundance 24/7, and whose operatives, therefore, are observed to have less of a tendency to seek chill out escapism in order to get through their demanding, high pressure workloads. On the other hand, highly-qualified specialists on the technological and manufacturing side of the media sector tend to expect the full range of top-level executive amusements and toys, perhaps not quite to the Google level of sophistication, but certainly enough to meet their stressed-out, chill out requirements.

As an example, let us now have a look at the famous brand, Provys, and how they keep their programmers, IT consultants, developers, sales staff, etc., continually motivated in an ever-changing, fast-moving environment.

“Finding and keeping top quality staff is a continual challenge, especially when the demand for such employees is growing constantly.”
Monika Zabadalova, HR Recruiting Manager

"We have adopted a number of strategies within our company to ensure that we attract the best of the best and then work continuously to keep them happy and motivated even though the work-life balance is more and more under pressure” says Monika Zabadalova, HR Recruiting Manager, Provys. “The work in our company is never boring and the concept of ‘routine’ simply does not exist. Our staff are frequently called upon to travel the world negotiating, analysing, developing, implementing, training and supporting complex projects and solutions, meeting a whole range of interesting colleagues, communicating in different languages, and always maintaining a positive attitude and a happy smile. Of course, their business life is heavy on adrenalin, often pushing the limits, yet requiring 100% reliability and professional calmness in the face of frequently unpredictable circumstances.”

Some twenty years ago, when Provys was little more than a start-up, the social area within the company consisted of only one kitchen with its obligatory coffee machine, water-cooler, fridge and dish-washer. Conversations took place here in between current projects and a small number of staff were relatively satisfied until their numbers started to grow. An additional kitchen was added with enhanced coffee facilities, soon to be followed by new offices, even better kitchens complete with multi-screen TV facilities, soft chairs, sofas and even more drinks and snack vending facilities. Trying to pander to their own intellectual capacities, the specialists started to bring in complex jigsaw puzzles for further entertainment in the kitchens. This showed management that the grey matter still required yet further, and alternative stimulation even when exhausted following hours of demanding, creative enterprise. This led quite logically to the establishment of the company chill-out room, furnished with comfortable chairs and sofas, large-screen TV facilities, a play-station with a wide assortment of games including their favourite, Formula 1, a dartboard and a collection of jigsaw puzzles, some of whose unbelievably complex templates originated in-house. Great things amuse great minds.

These great minds, in general, in the broadcasting industry are employed increasingly in ever more demanding specialisations which inherently leads to the necessity to take a rest and re-charge one’s batteries. Failure to recognise this need can result in “burn-out”, system instability and even increased staff turnover. Good managers must utilise every psychological trick in the book to recruit and keep the best employees, perhaps for the rest of their lives, and part of their magic includes the chill out or re-charge room.

Til Death Us Do Part

15 July 2019   #provyseverywhere

Diagram: Project Roadmap Example

Successful marriages last forever and the husband and wife both fully understand the underlying principles of their enduring relationship. We should consider exactly what these principles are because the same reasoning is also fundamental to any long-lasting commercial relationship, for example, in broadcasting. We all know that a bride-to-be will ask herself at least twice if the intended bride groom is really the right choice for her. In a way, the bride is the broadcaster who is considering the purchase of new, but expensive software to improve workflows in their media operations. The bride groom, i.e. the software supplier/developer, must make himself attractive, understandable, appropriate, adaptable, with a strong and pristine genetic and historical reputation together with good prospects. A well-developed sense of humour can also prove beneficial.

In the same way that the wedding is the gateway to marital integration and happiness, so in the hard world of broadcasting, all the same principles are tested to the limit and we can look now at how large system integration projects are managed with a view to creating commercial satisfaction. Following completion of a successful sale contract, the suppliers’ consultants will visit the organisation in order to analyse the existing workflows and future requirements of the new client. Long experience shows that in order to reduce the project workload, related costs and to increase transparency, it is advisable to first implement only the basic package which will almost certainly meet the immediate needs of the client. User training can now start, and during this period, further system options can be implemented. A gap analysis is then undertaken to assess the further detailed requirements of the broadcaster, allowing proper customisation, thereby saving considerable time and money which frequently arises when all aspects of the project are attempted together at the start. See the diagram.

“It is important to stress that certain conditions are required to be fulfilled prior to implementing the basic package."
Roman Barton, Head of Project Teams

"These conditions include: perfect system documentation, thorough system testing and a clear roadmap for future upgrades” says Roman Barton, Head of Provys Project Teams, and continues: “following which, we implement the minimum viable solution with its standard features, no matter how large the broadcaster. This allows us to reduce the implementation risk factors whilst minimising the exacting demands of the deployment process.”
Current project management methodology, when engaged in the delivery of projects to worldwide customers, can be understood as a combination of the following inputs: best practice within the field of broadcasting software solutions; wide experience in terms of recognition of customer needs and understanding their specific requirements; and usage of proven project management principles while directing projects to their successful closure such as the Prince2 framework, SCRUM agile techniques, etc. These generic inputs are then further tailored in order to have the best fit for purpose solution for each identified project. When selecting the way forward one should always take into account all relevant available information, such as the following: scope of implementation; reasons for the demanded change; size and organisational principles of the client together with their project management processes.

As the diagram shows, every project contains at least three project phases: Initialisation, Implementation and Go-live. It is also possible to add a customised development of completely new features to the implementation projects adjusting the roadmap accordingly. The core of the methodology uses the waterfall approach with a focus on the budget, timeline and technical scope control as these project characteristics are often demanded for a contractual agreement at the beginning, and estimates are calculated at early stages. When it comes to a detailed life-cycle of each project phase, the methodology also incorporates innovative approaches taken from agile techniques with a focus on frequent feedback from the customer through the early prototype presentations and an ever-changing backlog prioritisation as the solution advances to the acceptance and roll-out steps.

One of the most experienced developers in this industry, no doubt, is Provys from Prague, who have been active in such implementations since 1995 and are able to bring a wealth expertise and implementation skills to projects both large and small. Close adherence to the principles outlined above is the bedrock of their success with long term relationships in this complex marriage.

Content Benchmarking

25 June 2019   #benchmarking

Picture: Benchmarking (courtesy of Dave Campbell Outdoors)

Pausing to evaluate the successes of this year’s NABSHOW in Las Vegas and the splendid exhibits presented there for the delight of our media moguls, I could not escape the thoughts of how much interest was generated by the content benchmarking software tool which was demonstrated at the show.

The days of long discussions in smokie rooms in order to evaluate the future profitability of video content are fast drawing to a close as software solutions are now able to compare and evaluate content potential. Even before purchasing such assets as content, it is possible to asses and therefore maximise future returns on investment budgets. Global software developers in the broadcasting industry are perfecting a tool for content benchmarking which is rapidly becoming a “must-have” in the software portfolio of the 21st century broadcaster.

Benchmarking is the practice of comparing business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and best practices from other companies. Benchmarking actually started as a means of measuring the accuracy of rifles by fixing them to a bench and comparing the marks made by different types of ammunition on a fixed target. Such comparisons enabled manufacturers to develop the best combination of bullet and gun. Today, benchmarking has developed into a business idiom relating to the measurement of selected variables and their comparison against industry’s best practice.

In the world of broadcasting, content benchmarking compares the potential profitability of a range of offered programmes in order to evaluate the most appropriate content for their delivery. Comparison is still a major component of this methodology but in this case, it is not against industry’s best practice but is against a choice of competing content. The benchmarking software is based on criteria relating to some fifteen factors such as, target group, schedule zone, week zone, week day, seasonal index, holidays, cost per point, sold-out rating, average ad agency commission fee, average cost per hour, average discount, average index of TRP during ad breaks, commercial minute coefficient in one hour, etc. Of course, the set of factors can be extended as required. The criteria themselves are flexible within their own ranges and are used by the software to calculate a comprehensive forecast of a content’s future potential. This allows evaluation of both existing content and that which the broadcaster may be considering producing.

“Our solution gives content purchasers the hard numbers they require in order to decide whether or not to sign the purchase contract”
Zdenek Razek, Product Manager Scheduling, Provys

"In addition to this, our revolutionary and highly competitive promise of implementation of our whole scheduling system, within five weeks, also generated a huge amount of interest” says Zdenek Razek, Product Manager Scheduling, Provys.

The first professional benchmarking solution has been developed in close consultation with AMB (All Media Baltics), who are now trialling the application and reporting favourably on the performance and clear benefits which they are experiencing. “In the context of media and art, the content purchase manager might love something at first sight, but this tool will hit the financial bull’s eye” comments Kristaps Safranovs, IT System Manager at AMB.

PROVYS Aims High

11 June 2019   #aiminghigh

Prague TV Tower view

In accordance with their usual tradition, PROVYS once again held their annual CLIENT FORUM from June 5th – 7th 2019 in Prague, selecting two prominent high spots for their conference activities. The venue for this year’s event was the NH Collection Hotel famous for its two-level operations, connected by a hidden tourist attraction, namely a cable car running up the hill between the two sites. The cable car goes from the hotel up to the restaurant and conference centre above the city and offers a superb view of the panorama beyond the trees.

As is customary, the honoured guests discussed their strategic projects and shared their experience with other attendees, who are always exclusively Provys clients and partners. The event, once more, encouraged networking among leading broadcasters, Provys Business Partners, Product Managers and Executives. Major challenges of the broadcasting business were on the agenda and participants’ feedback is currently being evaluated by the appropriate development teams. Forum delegates are always welcome to give a short presentation of their strategic projects together with their views on the role of Provys in their organisations, both now and in the future.

“The event is not orientated purely on business but also has a very important and enjoyable non-digital social side, where everybody gets to know each other face-to-face."
Cable car view

This year’s social event was held at the famous landmark, the Zizkov TV Tower, some 216 m in height, and the tallest building in the city. With a 360° view, Prague is laid out before your eyes from the restaurant at 66 m. This entire floor is dedicated to relaxation and above all, to top quality gourmet experiences. The famous architects, Vaclav Aulicky and Jiri Kozak, designed the tower in the 1980s and ten giant sculptures of babies, by leading Czech artist David Cerny, crawl all over the outside of the tower.

The Latest Provys Upgrade

3 June 2019 #professionals

Let’s make it clear from the start, we are not talking technology here, but the latest professional upgrades to our human resources. We are pleased to announce the recent addition of three top flight experts in the fields of IT and broadcast management.

First amongst them, we must welcome Marek Jakub as a Senior Programmer on the Systems Integration Team. Marek comes to us after more than 15 years with Nova TV, the largest private broadcaster in the Czech Republic, working as a Business Systems Administrator. In fact, Nova were a little sad concerning his desire for greener pastures, as the parting was totally amicable, and they engineered a career path for him by recommending him to us here at Provys, a major partner and supplier of Nova TV, thereby ensuring a continuing relationship with Marek. Accordingly, one could claim that he goes down in history as the first media professional to be “head-shunted”. In his younger days, Marek was a champion mathematician being placed in the top five in a nation-wide competition, guaranteeing himself automatic admission to the Maths Faculty of Charles University without further entrance exam requirements. When not deep in mathematical thought, his principal hobby is walking (running) the dog, a Prague Ratter, famous for its lively and active nature, thus perhaps exposing the other side of Marek’s character.

Next, we are pleased to welcome Radek Vacha as the Team Leader of our Senior Consultants. Radek comes to us after a global career with the top names where he managed and developed large IT systems for finance, banking and insurance companies. He brings experience from the USA, Poland, France, China and, of course, the Czech and Slovak Republics. As a self-confessed workaholic, one of his principal pursuits is the development and promotion of IT systems with the best possible friendly nature and characteristics, thereby dovetailing perfectly with our motto: “Efficiency with a human face”. When not drumming up new IT concepts, one of Radek’s hobbies is drumming on his new electronic drum set. He also enjoys history, marketing, psychology, photography and motorbiking.

Last but not least, we are delighted to welcome Josef Zadina as a Presales Business Analyst. Josef comes to us from Aveco, a global name in broadcast automation, where he rose to the position of Sales Director during a career spanning more than 19 years. Prior to that, he worked for Czech TV for 7 years as an engineer in the continuity studios. In his soul, he is a broadcast engineer whose top-level technical expertise will certainly be invaluable to the Provys organisation and their clients. In his heart, he is a mountain man, predominantly pursuing cross-country skiing and hiking. On the technical side, he has an unusual hobby of creating computer networks between family and friends through his own sophisticated domestic hub.

Jan Hrdlicka, Managing Director, Provys

“These welcome additions to the Provys team strengthen our capabilities and set us securely on the path to further future successes” says Jan Hrdlicka, Managing Director, Provys.


1 June 2019   #abex

Once again, Provys attended the annual ABEX conference together with the great and good of the Czech and Slovak broadcasting industries, along with media colleagues from several other countries. Josef Vasica, CEO of Provys, gave a fascinating presentation on current developments in the Provys portfolio, including recently completed and ongoing projects at All Media Baltics, Ecuador TV, Viasat World, AMC Networks Iberia and SYN Iceland.

A rich programme was also offered by other colleagues, comprising both users‘ presentations together with manufacturers and suppliers‘ project experience, not forgetting the usual exposure to 100 of the best Moravian wines.

Martin Junek, Master of Ceremonies, performed his customary introduction, this year focusing on the wide range of Czech and Slovak broadcast sector developers who had presented their latest products and services at the recent NABSHOW in Las Vegas. Among these exhibitors, the following gave a brief presentation to the assembled Abex forum: Aveco, CamStreamer, ChyronHego (former AKI Sport), Octopus Newsroom, Provys, Stream Circle and Traco Systems.

Josef Vasica, CEO, PROVYS

Josef Vasica also brought a list of challenging questions he had faced on the stands in Las Vegas. Prominent amongst them were:

“How can you help us when we don’t want to compete with Netflix using their own weapons?”
“What cloud should we use if we don’t want to pay Amazon, our competitor?”
“What are we to do when we are convinced that the latest technologies are not yet fully developed and therefore, we are withholding upgrades of our current ones?”
“What kind of optimisation and automation can you offer if we want to return to growth?”
“Do your solutions use artificial intelligence?”

Josef then provided some possible directions regarding how to answer these questions and left them open for further discussion amongst the participants over a glass of wine.

Delegates, including all major national Czech and Slovak broadcasters, particularly appreciated Josef’s input and agreed that the conference had been extremely interesting and informative.

Telepathy or Television?

15 May 2019   #ecuador

Picture: Two Incas with their own view of modern civilisation,
with special thanks to Diego Delso

The Incas perfect understanding of Mother Nature’s delicate balancing act has allowed the development of San Francisco de Quito, now simply known as Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, sitting on the Equator but at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level. Originally, a major city of the Incas, it is now both the second-highest official capital city in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia), and the second highest location of a cluster of television broadcasters.

Among this cluster, Ecuador TV, the public service channel of Ecuador, was established in October 2007 to transmit content from independent national and international producers and documentaries and news programmes from different sources including Discovery, TVE, BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America. Following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin (the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador), and utilising all of the latest media technologies, Ecuador TV have now taken their next evolutionary leap and contracted with Hitachi Kokusai to upgrade their operations. This upgrade started in 2016 with the objective of expediting the process of migration of public broadcasting from analogue to digital television using the Japanese standard ISDB-T with a Brazilian modification which enables a degree of interactivity with the viewer. This standard is almost universal in the whole of South America. The project also includes an advanced playout automation system, supplied and installed by Aveco. Such state-of-the-art technology requires only the finest broadcast management system with the most modern programme scheduling, and it was therefore, natural that the Provys suite of software solutions was chosen to meet the quality demands of Ecuador TV.

“In the rare air of the high Andes, the rare talents of the Provys team were called upon to fill the bill".
Vaclav Malek, Consultant, PROVYS

“The digitisation of South American broadcasting significantly challenges broadcasters and particularly, their workflow managers. Such rarefied demands require the absolute best systems whose functionalities need to integrate perfectly with the other parts of the whole broadcasting chain” says Vaclav Malek, Consultant, Provys, and continues: “It is a pleasure to work with the professionals in Quito, both the IT guys from Ecuador TV and the Hitachi Engineers. English language was originally specified for the new software systems, but it became fairly clear that, in the near future, Spanish versions would almost certainly be required, and we are ready, willing and able to facilitate this.”

The benefits of the new system, which replaced standard office software tools, include: massively improved sharing of information; elimination of human errors; automation of broadcasting workflows and vastly increased overall efficiency. All of these benefits can now be found in the offices of Ecuador TV, situated close the historic centre of Quito which has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas, now being on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list. The modern city of Quito is actually founded on the ancient ruins of the original Incan city. The Incas, of course, rather preferred telepathy to television.

Thank You For Visiting Our Booth

Thank you for visiting PROVYS booth at NABSHOW 2019    #thanks-for-visiting

Another Great NABSHOW for PROVYS

17 April 2019   #greatnab

Picture: PROVYS booth at NABSHOW 2019

Back in the office, our thoughts still linger on the exciting times we experienced at the recent NABSHOW 2019 in Las Vegas. The PROVYS team were proud to present the latest developments to their renowned broadcast management solutions. Clients old and new, together with our global partners, were particularly fascinated by our latest proposal of PROVYS world-class scheduling system fully implemented and operational within only 5 weeks. This is a game-changer in the market and we expect many new broadcasters to install our scheduling system in the very near future. Highly experienced visitors were enthralled at this revolutionary prospect of having such a sophisticated software solution up and running within so short a timescale.

On the stand, visitors were mesmerised watching as PROVYS staff created a comprehensive broadcasting schedule within only 5 minutes, thereby illustrating the power of the scheduling module.

“Other ground-breaking developments on show in Las Vegas included content benchmarking..."
Karel Votroubek, Commercial Director, Provys

“Other ground-breaking developments on show in Las Vegas included: content benchmarking, a tool which enables broadcasters to compare in advance the potential profitability of a range of content; non-linear content publishing and segmentation, a major feature which allows broadcasters to painlessly expand into the world of “new media”; more powerful post-production workflow management; sophisticated EDL (Edit Decision List) usage for management of complex programme rights and metadata segments; split screen scheduling for more efficient usage of air-time and air-time ad sales now extended to web delivery” said Karel Votroubek, Commercial Director, PROVYS.

BXF Ten Years On

8 April 2019   #bxf

To all those who have experience standing on the booth of a media management solution provider at one of the global broadcasting trade fairs (e.g. NAB or IBC), the following scenario will not be unfamiliar, namely: a prospective client or partner approaches the booth and asks politely if the offered solution is BXF-compatible. A psychologist would have great fun watching the face of the guy on the booth as s/he responds positively, knowing the answer is “yes” on account of the flexibility that BXF offers, but silently worrying in case this particular request may cost the company an arm and a leg to develop.
BXF (Broadcast Exchange Format) is an XML based standard for data exchange in the broadcasting industry formally defined by SMPTE. It was developed to supersede numerous archaic types of exchange for playlists, record lists and various other data in broadcasting. The first version was published in 2008. Unsurprisingly, only 150 SMPTE members were required to ensure the definition of the standard. Readers familiar with “Baby Snakes” by Frank Zappa will realise that he also was a dedicated fan of theirs.

Switching the mood now, SMPTE and BXF require some practical de-mystification. The second release (BXF 2.0) valid from 2012, was followed by the widespread adoption of this standard for interoperability between and among multiple media management systems. Serious collaboration on the BXF standard across the global broadcast industry today delivers structured XML information for traffic systems, automation solutions, MAMs and more, with clear and specific mapping instructions. BXF currently provides a robust yet flexible communication schema which efficiently addresses today’s complex array of delivery platforms together with targeted advertising, a critical element of modern media business.

“ We have been using BXF in numerous projects over the past ten years.”
Petr Dolejsi, BXF Wizard at Provys

“For us and other developers, BXF comprises a suite of documents standardising messaging protocols for information exchange. It does not limit the actual communication media for transmission and reception. For example, you can simply leave your BXF message in a defined folder where it is picked up, read, hopefully understood by the recipient. We have been using BXF in numerous projects over the past ten years. It has provided an excellent solution to the need for the exchanges of schedules/playlists, as-run logs, content metadata, and content transfer instructions between various systems including editors, scheduling, automation, sales, billing and even MAM equipment” says Petr Dolejsi, Senior MAM Consultant, Provys. “Since the launch of BXF, many improvements in the schema have become available to the users and it is important to note that the Provys schema perfectly matches that of BXF thereby guaranteeing the highest levels of interoperability” Petr added.

As the diagram illustrates, BXF facilitates multinational communication between broadcasting headquarters and their foreign subsidiaries. Metadata flow both out and in seamlessly, between various systems and differing national requirements. Developers confirm that the standard today is affordable, well-described and user-friendly although they would prefer to see more examples from SMPTE to learn from. The original concern that the “Private Section” sitting outside of the schema would be over-utilised as a “workaround” has been overtaken by the latest definitions of the BXF standard which exactly reflect the needs of the modern broadcasting industry.

Latest PROVYS Developments to be Unveiled at NAB

17 March 2019   #unveiledatnab

Looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas (April 8 – 11) where Provys, famous for workflow management solutions from planning to content delivery, will be showcasing the following new features:

· Content benchmarking , a tool which enables broadcasters to compare in advance the potential profitability of a range of content
· Non-linear content publishing and segmentation , a major feature which allows broadcasters to painlessly expand into the world of “new media”
· More powerful post-production workflow management
· Sophisticated EDL (Edit Decision List) usage for management of complex programme rights and metadata segments
· Split screen scheduling for more efficient usage of air-time
· Air-time ad sales now extended to web delivery

In addition to these media management aspects, the aware visitor will also be delighted to find inspirational guidance and friendly presentations at Booth N5215.

PROVYS is the largest division of DCIT Inc., based in the beautiful city of Prague, and is a major independent player in the development of software solutions for the broadcasting and media industries, together with specialised software and services for cyber security.
After more than 20 years of continual development, PROVYS is today a renowned global software for controlling processes and workflows in media organisations. The broadcasters’ experience aggregated by PROVYS over the years allows their consultants to offer the widest knowledge of the media industry to clients.
The seamlessly integrated software package consists of sophisticated modules for production and resource management, long term planning and scheduling, strategic programming tools for a multi-channel environment, highly effective automated self-promotion, invaluable contingency planning for flexible sport events, auto-replays and effective series planning as well as a programme guide and EPG data editing. PROVYS gathers and helps to evaluate transmission history. All of these broadcasting tools are further complemented with powerful management applications for rights, media assets, archiving and ad sales. PROVYS simply offers a peerless benefit-to-cost ratio.
Finally, DCIT Inc. is a popular, equal opportunities employer where talent is recognised and encouraged. We deem the relationships with our clients to be of the highest value as our mission is to provide “Efficiency with a human face”, through predictability, professionalism, and open communication.

"Dear Visitors, you are kindly requested to book your appointment in advance at . A warm welcome is guaranteed."

Bridging Troubled Waters

15 March 2019   #projectmanagement

In any complex project management environment where a supplier is contracted to meet the requirements of a purchaser, it is a given that the project management teams on each side will have different objectives, expectations, standards and methodologies. Navigating the stormy waters between these two sides can be a hazardous experience which can cause delays, misunderstandings, errors and additional costs. By contrast, it should be pointed out that the waters between such parties may be calm and even too peaceful, reflecting a lack of objective input, which can also leave the project ship-wrecked. So where and how shall we find our bridge?

In the world of media, one of the top developers of broadcast management systems is Provys, who are regularly required to improve the operating procedures of mid-size to large multichannel broadcasters with their fully integrated workflow software solution. Despite trying to keep an unrelenting focus on final outcomes, Provys nevertheless realise that even with their famously strong project team, there are indisputable benefits to be derived from a broadcaster’s decision to employ third-party expert project managers to act in the capacity of consultants who will take an overview of the implementation, acting as a bridge over any potential issues. Petr Helebrant, Project Manager at Provys, explains:

"We have recently completed two substantial projects with Viasat World and All Media Baltics (AMB), utilising the overarching consultancy expertise of Posterity-Milestone and Ravensbeck respectively, both UK based consultancies whose services include project and programme management. Their contribution to the successful completion of these projects, on time and on budget, cannot be overemphasised, and I fully recommend this method of management for complex projects."
Petr Helebrant, Project Manager at Provys

A brief look at these two project management consultants will help us to better understand their philosophies and methodologies. Their projects have included multiple new channel launches globally for broadcast companies and content owners, ranging from a Video On Demand service to full channel launch, and fitting out green-field media site technology. Both have been responsible for end to end programme management, including scheduling, rights & media management, technology and process design, and successful launches into operations. Adapting their approach to the culture and structure of their clients, they ensure that project and programme management disciplines can work in any organisational environment. Their teams actually fill any internal gaps in the short term, whilst advising clients on vendor selection and the best way to address skills shortages or inappropriate resource levels.

The diagram, courtesy of Roman Barton, Head of Project Teams at Provys, illustrates the five main phases of a typical enterprise software implementation in a broadcasting operation, broken down further into the numerous activities required in each phase, all superimposed on a simplified Gantt Chart. The external project management consultants, mentioned above, are active in the Pre-project, Specification, Acceptance and Roll-out phases where the risk of delays and losses can occur, and where their value added contribution is extremely effective. Careful study of this self-explanatory diagram is highly recommended as it encapsulates many years of project management experience. For broadcasters, following this methodology / navigation chart is your sure-fire way of safely surviving the potentially troubled waters of project management.

Nab 10 mins with us at NAB

1 March 2019   #nab2019

Once again, NAB rolls off the calendar in Las Vegas from April 8 to 11 and diaries are rapidly filling up in this connection. For those unfamiliar with the layout of the NABSHOW in Vegas, the densest crowds are to be found in the South Halls, diminishing somewhat through the Central Hall, and finishing up with a most pleasing and comfortable ambience in the North Hall where both exhibitors and visitors can cool down and actually hear each other as they discuss the latest aspects of management systems for the media industry.

“Among these media management aspects, the aware visitor will also be delighted to find unexpected gems of technical wizardry, inspirational guidance, friendly presentations and even a secret source of Czech premium beers”.
NABSHOW 2019: North Hall

Nesting among these gems (Booth N5215), the curious broadcaster will discover the latest technological developments from the world renowned Provys stables, famous for workflow management solutions from planning to content delivery. System integrators and project consultants are strongly recommended to visit the booth, alone or with their existing and potential clients, irrespective of their size, in order to introduce them to the latest money-making and money-saving software solutions specifically aimed at improving media organisational efficiency and effectiveness. Such new developments include a benchmarking tool which will enable broadcasters to compare in advance the potential profitability of a range of content, and from that select the optimum programmes for their channels.

Potential visitors are urged to book an appointment in advance at (please note that complimentary beers will be served after 5 pm).

Elevating Work into a Dream Job

20 February 2019   #viasatworld

Picture: Jan Svihalek, Consultant for Viasat World, Provys

Any broadcast system developer would consider it a “dream job” to enter into a long-term partnership with such a highly regarded global player as Viasat World, a leading international TV company offering 27 Pay TV channels in 50+ countries together with non-linear on-demand services in many different territories. Their international team produces, curates and distributes to a massive network of content verticals including acquisitions from Hollywood, international and local studios and production companies.

When Viasat World were reviewing their workflow management systems, particularly scheduling, rights and content management, they opened a tender with strict requirements to replace their legacy systems and procedures. These previous systems were based on two different standard broadcast management systems which were available some years ago together with programmes from the Microsoft Office Suite. Provys were selected to make system updates and the transition in programme scheduling, rights and content management on one consolidated database platform which would offer the following advantages: unified workflows, perfect collaboration between different departments, all posted information to be available and shared to the whole team on a real-time basis, the removal of repetition and duplication in the workflow processes and the elimination of human errors. In particular, the non-linear department is ecstatic because operators can now access data with simply a few clicks, for example, the validity of content rights for non-linear delivery.

For the project management, they prudently recognised that such a mammoth task now required external professional consultancy to handle the complexities of changing, upgrading, integrating and generally improving all aspects of their operations. For this top-level task, they selected Posterity ~ Milestone (, a trusted project delivery partner to worldwide clients for over 20 years. In particular, Posterity provide delivery capability and innovative consulting services. They focus predominantly on broadcasting, media, telecoms and digital transformations in the private sector and public service and government. It was Viasat World’s initiative to bring in Posterity as project managers who would sit in the middle of the supplier/purchaser matrix, focusing entirely on resolving differences and completing the project on time and on budget. Further discussion of the advantages of this methodology will be presented in greater depth in future articles.

“When we started our project analysis, we were surprised at the range and scope of the requirements of Viasat World especially regarding the number of interfaces to be included in the new system. But we drew upon our depth of experience in this sector and submitted proposals to match the demands of the whole operation” says Ondrej Marik, Main Consultant for Viasat World, Provys.
Ondrej Marik, Main Consultant for Viasat World, Provys

“Seamless delivery of detailed programme schedules is required round the clock to playout centres in different countries, different time zones and different languages, including Russian. In addition, we needed to integrate with many other systems such as: MAM by Mediaflex, advertising sales software (e.g. Polsat Media), rights agency reporting (e.g. Soundmouse), language translation systems for EPG (e.g. PAWA), etc. Finally, Viasat World really appreciated our commitment to on-site training of their users.”

The project started in Q2 2018 and the “go-live” date is now imminent. Dreams are normally over-night sensations, but the high level of open and flexible communication enabled Provys to go beyond the call of duty, spending some extra time to create the best possible solution for Viasat World.

Another Monumental Project in Giza

21 January 2019   #dmediaegypt

Broadcasting excellence reaches new peaks

When D Media, a leading media entity in Egypt and the owner of DMC TV Network, were planning to build a completely new broadcast centre in Egyptian Media Production City, they selected a consortium of two well established Egyptian system integrators: Systems Design and Technology KAR to manage the whole project. The scope of the project was to launch several new TV channels broadcasting general entertainment programmes, news, sports, and drama. The consortium of systems integrators in turn allocated different aspects of the project to selected manufacturers and software houses, including: playout and studio automation to Aveco; the newsroom computer system to Octopus; long-term planning, scheduling and content management to Provys; production and playout servers to EVS and graphics to Vizrt. Perhaps Systems Design and Technology KAR got some ideas from previous articles about ABEX Society which highlighted the wealth of broadcasting expertise to be found within the members of the society in which the first three play a prominent role.

In contrast to many other local broadcasters’ habits, DMC specifically wanted to achieve maximum automation of all operational workflows. Scheduling is in pole position when it comes to workflows because all related activities are driven by the schedule. DMC is unique in that its scheduling contains long-term planning which subsequently triggers all downstream activities. A further special feature in DMC is the accurate scheduling of Salah times (Islamic prayer times) which occur five times per day at continually changing times, and which must be accurately programmed for years ahead. Such scheduling must also include appropriate and varied content for each prayer time. Out of interest, Salah times are calculated using a sophisticated mathematical formula using factors such as sunrise, sunset and shadows, typically in keeping with traditional Arabic expertise in the field of maths. These prayer slots are precisely defined within the system in order that subsequent operations cannot interfere with these prioritised intervals, thus avoiding any chance of human error.

“The whole scheduling and content management operation rests securely on an Oracle relational database platform, thereby facilitating co-terminus collaboration across the whole of the team. This is a vast improvement on previous standard office software systems which were not entirely dissimilar to the local archaeological monoliths” says Adam Krbusek, Senior Provys Consultant, Egypt.
Adam Krbusek, Senior Consultant, Provys, Egypt

One area where spreadsheets are still used is in the field of ad sales where commercial break time slots are defined and outsourced to ad agencies to fill appropriately. The completed spreadsheets are then imported back into Provys for subsequent playout. A further sophisticated element is the use of Arabic, reading from right to left, for all internal text communications whilst the menus are still presented in English in line with international standards and terminology.

On an interesting final point, Egyptian Media Production City is a concentrated hub of Egyptian media companies all working within a closed campus which is designed to protect the massive capital investments made by the various participants.