Centralcast and Digital Convergence Alliance are merging to form CentralCast Alliance LLC, a nonprofit entity that will provide joint master control and other technology services to public television stations nationwide.
Centralcast, a nonprofit formed in 2012 by a consortium of public stations in New York state, and Digital Convergence Alliance, founded by public broadcasters in Florida, launched a decade ago through a CPB-backed initiative to streamline and consolidate public TV broadcast operations.
Centralcast expanded to provide services to around 27 stations and manage more than 100 streams of content, including Create TV. Digital Convergence Alliance grew from six Florida stations to include public TV partners in Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Dallas and Champaign, Ill. Its portfolio now includes 14 stations in 13 markets, according to its website.
“Technology works best when it’s shared and sharpened regularly,” said Paul Grove, CEO of WEDU in Tampa, Fla., and a member of DCA’s board, in a news release announcing the merger. “By building a larger roster of stations in common, all of us will have greater control over infrastructure investment and full access to the most innovative technology for master control and network operations.”
CentralCast Alliance plans to bring an additional 40 streams of content under its control when the system conversion is completed by August 2023. It will add cloud-based and over-the-top services and help lead its stations’ transition to ATSC 3.0 or NextGen TV. DCA stations will begin transitioning their originating streams to Centralcast’s facility in Syracuse, N.Y., early next year.
When the consolidation is complete, CentralCast Alliance will be the largest nonprofit provider of joint master control services. Public Media Management, a cloud-based content distributor formed through a 2015 joint venture of Sony and GBH in Boston, is now co-owned by Boulder, Colo.–based Public Media Group and Sony.
“Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Centralcast and DCA were pioneers, offering joint master control services for public television stations by public television stations,” said Robert Altman, Centralcast acting board chairman and CEO for WMHT in Troy, N.Y. “After ten years, the timing is right for us to move forward together.”
Shadi Sabra, CEO for Centralcast, will lead the new organization alongside CTO Steve White. “The first initiative of the new company will be to leverage CentralCast Alliance’s technology and existing infrastructure to offer a very cost-effective solution to any station whose master control provider cannot access live content when the PBS satellite system sunsets,” Sabra said.
An interim steering committee will guide the transition and work with BIA Advisory Services for strategic consulting. Altman and WNET Group CEO Neal Shapiro represent CentralCast on the committee. DCA’s representatives include Board Chair David Mullins, who is GM of WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla., and Grove.
“I believe if we combine our experience, we can create an organization that will provide an exciting future for all public broadcasting stations and the communities they serve,” said Shapiro, acting treasurer for Centralcast.