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Old 04-15-2009, 08:51 AM
Drew Yaussy Drew Yaussy is offline
 
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Default Operating Sat truck - 1 or 2 people

For those of us that have photogs operating sat trucks - Do you use one or 2 photogs when you go live? We currently use one photog for standard microwave shots, but we use 2 when we operate the sat truck. Our reasoning is 1) compliance with FCC regs (they state an operator must be in control of the earth station at all times when transmitting), and 2) the overall complexity of operating the satellite dish and transmitter.

I am getting some pressure to relax this rule, and allow one photog to handle satellite lives. We currently allow one photog when feeding back video.

What are your policies?
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:53 AM
Imachief Imachief is offline
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Who's pressuring you? If it's your ND or GM, you might remind them of the FCC mandates. At my shop we use 2 for all satellite shots. One runs the truck, the other shoots, edits, and does the live. Period. Microwave shots are handled solo.

FCC inspectors have the uncanny knack of showing up in the strangest places; long story, I won't bore you with details. Do you really want to be the unlucky one who has to explain why the station is suddenly getting cited/fined because management wants to "save" a few bucks, and cut corners?

To cover yourself, it might not be a bad idea to ask for management's rationale in writing. That ought to make them think again.
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Last edited by Imachief; 04-15-2009 at 09:57 AM. Reason: spelling errors
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Old 04-16-2009, 07:01 AM
JimmyS. JimmyS. is offline
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Do some research, first. Find out exactly what 'being in control of the Earth station' means before you claim that it's FCC regs.
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:33 AM
Imachief Imachief is offline
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Default There have been numerous discussions about this topic

This has been posted here previously, but here it is again:

TITLE 47--TELECOMMUNICATION

CHAPTER I--FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

PART 25--SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS

Subpart D--Technical Operations

Sec. 25.271 Control of transmitting stations.

(a) The licensee of a facility licensed under this part is responsible for the proper operation and maintenance of the station.

(b) The licensee of a transmitting earth station licensed under this part shall ensure that a trained operator is present on the earth station site, or at a designated remote control point for the earth station, at all times that transmissions are being conducted. No operator's license is required for a person to operate or perform maintenance on facilities authorized under this part.
(c) Authority will be granted to operate a transmitting earth station by remote control only on the conditions that:
(1) The parameters of the transmissions of the remote station monitored at the control point, and the operational functions of the
remote earth stations that can be controlled by the operator at the control point, are sufficient to insure that the operations of the remote station(s) are at times in full compliance with the remote station authorization(s);
(2) The earth station facilities are protected by appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorized entry or operations;
(3) Upon detection by the license, or upon notification from the Commission of a deviation or upon notification by another licensee of
harmful interference, the operation of the remote station shall be immediately suspended by the operator at the control point until the deviation or interference is corrected, except that
transmissions concerning the immediate safety of life or property may be conducted for the duration of the emergency; and
(4) The licensee shall have available at all times the technical personnel necessary to perform expeditiously the technical servicing and
maintenance of the remote stations.
(d) The licensee shall insure that the licensed facilities are properly secured against unauthorized access or use whenever an operator
is not present at the transmitter.
(e) The licensee of an NGSO FSS system operating in the 10.7-14.5 GHz bands shall maintain an electronic web site bulletin board to list the satellite ephemeris data, for each satellite in the constellation, using the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) two-line orbital element format. The orbital elements shall be updated at least once every three days.

[58 FR 13421, Mar. 11, 1993, as amended at 66 FR 10631, Feb. 16, 2001]

So, after doing my reasearch I would submit; if as the operator of the truck you are the person responsible for finding the satellite, accessing and powering up on the correct transponder, then YOU are to stay at the controls during transmission.

However, if your vehicle is equipped with systems allowing the access operators to bring your vehicle up to power on their transponder, and take your "shot" off the satellite, the arguement can be made that they, not you are in control of the earth station. Then, and only then, would I allow my staff to do solo satellite transmissions.

Another question; what does your station's contract with theier satellite provider say? That contract may very well dictate how satellite transmissions are conducted, despite management's thoughts to the contrary.
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Old 04-16-2009, 01:38 PM
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I totally get what you are saying and wish we coulda sent two photographers to every sat shot when I worked at a TV station. However, no where does it state in the FCC regs that the operator has to be inside the remote station.

The parameters of the transmissions of the remote station monitored at the control point, and the operational functions of the
remote earth stations that can be controlled by the operator at the control point, are sufficient to insure that the operations of the remote station(s) are at times in full compliance with the remote station authorization(s);

This is the closest to stating that an operator must be in the remote vehicle. However, it can be argued that as long as the operator is in control of the site, that is sufficient. Now, if we were to have a long cable run, we sent two photographers on the shot because the 'shooter' can't be in control of the remote site from a long distance away.

Luckily, I don't have to worry about live shots anymore!!!
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:36 PM
Drew Yaussy Drew Yaussy is offline
 
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Default let's discuss further

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyS. View Post
This is the closest to stating that an operator must be in the remote vehicle. However, it can be argued that as long as the operator is in control of the site, that is sufficient. Now, if we were to have a long cable run, we sent two photographers on the shot because the 'shooter' can't be in control of the remote site from a long distance away.
JimmyS hits the nail on the head. The rule is up for interpretation. I personally prefer the safety of 2 people for ALL live shots. But I also have to deal with the reality of hard economic times.

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Originally Posted by Imachief View Post
FCC inspectors have the uncanny knack of showing up in the strangest places; long story, I won't bore you with details.
Please DO "bore" me with details! Give me dates, places, and names. It can only help me make a responsible decision.
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:41 PM
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In the 17 years of working in the news business, I've never had a FCC rep show up at a live shot. At the station, yes. But, not a live shot.
Please tell everyone how and where this happened and how you handled it so that all photographers that run trucks can be aware of this potential disaster.
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:02 AM
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Default Setting up a bad scenario

I say that 2 photogs should be sent on every sat shot.
Even if you are close to the truck when doing your shot, equipment malfunctions. I once had my HPA mysteriously shoot up from 24 watts to 150. I quickly got a call from SES Americom asking what was up. I killed the signal - much to a producers dislike. I WILL NOT be the guy who damages the truck, or worse, the bird.
Aside from that, I think there is a safety issue at play.
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Old 04-17-2009, 05:40 PM
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What happens if you are alone and under extreme deadline and do something like knock sombody else off the bird. Two people all the time!
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Old 04-17-2009, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldhuskie View Post
What happens if you are alone and under extreme deadline and do something like knock sombody else off the bird. Two people all the time!
Look... I agree that there should be two operators in a SAT truck. However, if you've been trained properly then you would know not to knock someone else off the bird, and if you do, that's your mistake. Everyday photogs are under extreme pressure... But, that's part of the job. The deadline is absolute and there is no changing it. So, saying that... You understand what your responsibilities are and should do the best job you can, everyday and all the time. That's why you are a news photog, right?
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Old 04-18-2009, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
However, if you've been trained properly then you would know not to knock someone else off the bird, and if you do, that's your mistake.
That does not account for the uncontrolable events you run into. Weather can have a big effect on your uplink. Precipitation and wind are two such examples.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:49 AM
Drew Yaussy Drew Yaussy is offline
 
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What I'm taking away from this discussion is that the FCC reg is open to interpretation:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imachief View Post
(c) Authority will be granted to operate a transmitting earth station by remote control only on the conditions that:
(1) The parameters of the transmissions of the remote station monitored at the control point, and the operational functions of the
remote earth stations that can be controlled by the operator at the control point, are sufficient to insure that the operations of the remote station(s) are at times in full compliance with the remote station authorization(s);
(2) The earth station facilities are protected by appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorized entry or operations;
<snip>

So, after doing my reasearch I would submit; if as the operator of the truck you are the person responsible for finding the satellite, accessing and powering up on the correct transponder, then YOU are to stay at the controls during transmission.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyS View Post
it can be argued that as long as the operator is in control of the site, that is sufficient.
Our sister station has a rule that a single operator can shoot a lock-down live shot with less than 100' of cable run. I think 100' is too long to react to emergencies in the truck, and I am always concerned about leaving a camera on a tripod. That being said, a rule like this opens our newscasts to more flexible live coverage.

So, according to this discussion, the rule is not b&w, but everyone prefers an extra photog for safety's sake, am I right?
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:11 AM
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Nothing is B&W in this business, each assignment should be evaluated on it's own merit. A single operator could be sufficient if it is a calm environment and nothing goes wrong. Is it your lead or a kicker? Breaking/evolving news or live only closer? Potentially you could get what you pay for, cheap in the field can lead to cheap on-air.

Show some flexibility in the boardroom and management will respond in kind.
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Yaussy View Post
What I'm taking away from this discussion is that the FCC reg is open to interpretation:

Our sister station has a rule that a single operator can shoot a lock-down live shot with less than 100' of cable run. I think 100' is too long to react to emergencies in the truck, and I am always concerned about leaving a camera on a tripod. That being said, a rule like this opens our newscasts to more flexible live coverage.

So, according to this discussion, the rule is not b&w, but everyone prefers an extra photog for safety's sake, am I right?
I'm a former Chief and current devil's advocate. If you were trained properly there shouldn't be any safety issues in the field. I know that people make mistakes when they get in a rush, but if you know what your job is and what to look out for in the field, no one's safety should be at risk, right? (Barring crazy weather) Sending one person to do a SAT shot that has been trained as such, is most of the time sufficient with a less than 100' cable run.
Like I said... It would be nice to send two photographers to EVERY live shot, but that's not going to happen with limited staff.

By the way... If some of you are so concerned with this, don't go to your ND or Chief Engineer, write the FCC and have them interpret the rule.
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Old 04-19-2009, 02:23 PM
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How about legal liability if something goes wrong and there's a lawsuit?

If you're a part of the chain of command that sent 1 instead of two and something
went horribly wrong. You could be on the losing end of a civil suit and/or OHSA fines.

Would you sacrifice your home and your kid's college fund to look frugal
for the ND/GM?
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:10 PM
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So if something goes wrong and you're the operator... Wouldn't you be the one responsible? I can understand if there wasn't sufficient upkeep of the vehicle but if you are the one operating the truck and something happens, well it's on you. See, what I'm trying to get some of you to understand is that a good manager would ensure that the entire staff is trained properly on equipment. I had everyone sign a Safety Manual, training manuals, and other materials, plus constant 'refreshers'. So, if you are trained properly and you signed all the docs then nothing should 'go wrong'. Correct?
Some of you always blame management for your own mistakes made in the field, even when you've been doing the job for years. Take responsibility and you'll be fine in the manager's eyes.
By the way... Tell me how OHSA would get involved when there are no rules, laws, mandates, or anything of the like concerning SAT shot operators that would cause me or others to worry. And yes... Being a part of the chain of command I used to worry about certian things. But, as long as we had our bases covered and all the documentation; I knew we would be fine. And many times because of my documentation, we were fine.
Behind the curtian...What most of you don't know is that we learn to keep documentation on everything. I had e-mails going back to 2002 either in hard copy or electronically. So that if I ever had to pull them out, there they were. These days you can't go by "he said, she said". You have to have proof. And, maybe most of you may see me as 'on the other side'... But, since I'm not in news anymore, I thought I'd offer up some words of wisdom.

I don't mean to flame anyone, at all. But, sometimes people need a grasp of reality.

As far as the two SAT shot photographers on every shot is concerned, show me where something went drastically wrong other than a missed live shot and I'll change my mind.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:35 PM
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So someone has to get killed while trying to do the work of two
people before its an issue?

I'm suggesting that there could be scenarios where a station would be considered
negligent for understaffing the SNG shoot.

People get burned, lose limbs and worse all the time for hurrying with SNG and microwave trucks. That's certainly more severe than a missed or crappy live shot.
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:21 AM
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I understand what you are trying to say... But, please try to understand what I'm saying. Tell me, how would the station be held negligent? Any lawyer would see that hundreds of SAT shots were performed with one operator, without problems. He would do research and see the dozens of TV stations that use one operator with out severe incidents. Then he would look at the training to see if the station was negligent. He would see all the training forms signed by the operator and have to dismiss that aspect. Your comment of getting severely injured because of "hurrying with SNG and microwave trucks" won't stand up. If you get injured because you're in a hurry is the station's fault? Look at it this way...If you get a ticket for speeding in a news unit; is that the station's fault, too? Would you expect them to pay for your mistake because you were in a hurry to get to breaking news?
I've said it before.... If you are properly trained, no one should get injured on your watch because you know what you are doing.
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:18 AM
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sounds to me like some people haven't grasped the concept that bean counters in charge are looking to cut corners and budget wherever they can. Not sending 2 people to one live shot is one way they are doing it. Hybrid sat trucks are paving the way to OMB lives.
I happen to do both, photog and live truck op (microwave and satellite.) I don't run more than 20 feet of cable for either. WHY? Incase something goes wrong technically. I said it before, and I say it again: "If you don't like the genny noise, send me an op."
That won't happen nowadays in this cost cutting business. Get used to it. Is it right, probably not, but that's the reality.
We need to adapt, I have. If we don't, we'll be replaced by the lowest bidder part-time kid outta school who says "Yes, sir!" everytime when asked to OMB a live.
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:35 AM
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Years ago they used to send out 'crews'. Camera op, sound tech, reporter, maybe a grip. That went away with much discourse from the crews. Then engineers stopped running ENG trucks and had the photogs trained with discourse from both sides. Yes, OMB is a cost cutting measure simply because management saw that it can be done. Every photog in the shop I used to work in does SNG shots alone, without severe incidents that I know of (except for the occasional missed shot). By the way... It's not just the news room that cuts corners. When I started at News4 there were probably 12 to 15 engineers. Today (or the day I left) you can probably count the number of them on one hand. Also happened in production and Creative Services. "Bean counters" saw that it can be done with limited amounts of people so that's the way it went. If you want to blame anyone for the OMB lives, blame the first photog that did a live shot by himself.

Off to work... I hope everyone has a safe and happy day.
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