ContentDepot: Station FAQs

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The following tabs will take you to frequently asked questions that may come up as you use the ContentDepot. For more detailed information, please refer to the Help system in the ContentDepot portal. Simply click on the "Help" link from any page in the ContentDepot portal.

  • Getting Started in the ContentDepot
  • Installation
  • Live and Stored Programs
  • Subscribing to Programs

Getting Started in the ContentDepot

I do not think I received a username and password. How do I login?

Every station has designated one or two ContentDepot administrators. When those administrator accounts were set up, emails were sent to the administrator with his or her login information. If you are the administrator, and you did not receive your username and password or can no longer locate it, please use the "Forgot Password" link on the portal login page.

When you click on that link, you will be prompted to enter the email address that was associated with your account. When you input your email address, two emails will automatically be sent to that address: The first will have your username and the second will contain a randomly-generated password that you will be asked to change when you first access the portal.

If your email address has changed or you do not receive any automatic emails, please contact our PRSS Help Desk at 800.971.7677 or prsshelp@npr.org.

If you are not the administrator for your station, you will not receive login information until your station administrator creates your account. When your administrator creates your account, you will be automatically sent an email with your password. Please contact your station administrator regarding your account set up.

Please Note: The login info for your ContentDepot receivers is not related in any way to your login for the portal.


What is the ContentDepot portal and how do I get to it?

The ContentDepot portal is the web interface for the ContentDepot. Your station personnel will use the portal to set up users, receive messages, and subscribe to programs. You must subscribe to programs to receive them in the new system. The URL for the portal is posted on the www.prss.org homepage.
 

How are users created?

Your organization's ContentDepot administrator will set up user accounts for anyone at your organization that should have portal access. Please refer to the ContentDepot Administrator section for the steps to create a new user.

You must provide a unique email address for each user that you create. Once a user account is created, his or her login information will be emailed automatically to the individual directly.

If an individual that you need to set up already exists in the portal, that person probably was imported into the ContentDepot during data migration from the previous systems. Three things to look out for with migrated users:

  1. If the user requires a login to the system, you will need to update the person's account to include "Access to the ContentDepot."
  2. You will need to correct the "dummy" email address that was intentionally populated in the system to prevent "spam" messages from being sent during testing.
  3. When the user receives his or her password message, the password may be blank. This is a known defect in the system and can be resolved simply by requesting a new password using the "Forgot Password" feature on the portal home page.
     

How can I download files over the Internet?

All you need to do to download files from the ContentDepot portal is:

  1. Create any users that need download ability in the portal; and
  2. Subscribe to those pre-recorded programs for which you need downloads. Once those two steps are complete, authorized users can download files from the portal the same way they did from the catalog. You can then set up your ContentDepot receivers and automation systems separately to automate the receipt of those programs for the future.


In what format will portal files download?

Audio files downloaded from the ContentDepot portal will be in broadcast wave (.wav) format. The file includes the original MP2 audio file plus metadata that is added (wrapped) for use by station automation systems. This is the same format that will be delivered via satellite. It is not possible to download a raw MP2 file from the portal. All other files will be downloaded in their native (unaltered) format.


How do I subscribe to programs?

Once the individuals responsible for subscribing to programs have been set up by the station administrator and emailed their login information, the subscription process can begin.

  1. Hopefully, your station has completed a subscription grid for live programming.  A template grid was emailed to station administrators. If you have not completed it yet, it's not too late. We strongly encourage you to map live programs to decoder ports BEFORE you begin to subscribe in the portal. The ContentDepot portal will not provide an error message if you double book a decoder, so mapping out your assignments will speed the process and improve accuracy.
     
  2. To locate a program to subscribe to, use the search box in the upper left navigation to search for the program title (e.g., Morning Edition).  When using the search feature, you can narrow your search results by selecting "Programs" from the drop down window above the keyword box. Otherwise, all programs, episodes, messages, and other content for your search criteria will display.

    Please note that there is a known defect that can occur when you use the browser back button while reviewing search results and then attempt to proceed to the "next" page of results. This can result in "0 entries" being erroneously displayed. Please be assured that we are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
     
  3. From the search results, select the program that you wish to subscribe to, and follow the subscription procedures from the station getting started guide

Important Note: The information you input on the subscription page only controls the display of your station schedule on your home page. It does *not* control the subscription deliveries. If you subscribe to a program, you will receive all episodes that are transmitted. For example, if you subscribe to BBC World Service Weekday 1400, your decoders will be tuned to receive Monday through Friday episodes even if you only air it on Tuesday. Designating your air schedule as "Only Tuesday" only controls the display of this program delivery on your station home page.

Once your station has subscribed to programs, you should begin receiving audio on your ContentDepot decoders and receivers with the next episode delivery. For file-based programs, general information is available in the station guide to assist you with automation. For more detailed automation support, please contact your automation vendor. Our PRSS Help Desk is available to assist you with all other audio delivery questions. The PRSS Help Desk can be reached at 800.971.7677 or prsshelp@npr.org.
 

Why must I subscribe to 24-hour services as individual hours?

Program producers have divided their multi-hour programs into hourly series to offer stations the most flexibility in subscribing. This gives you the ability to subscribe only to the hours that you need without tying up your decoder ports for additional, unneeded hours. You must individually subscribe to every program. The 24-hour services such as Classical 24, BBC World Service, BBC Mundo, Beethoven Satellite Network, and Jazz Satellite Network are divided into weekday (Monday - Friday) programs that must be subscribed to INDIVIDUALLY by the hour, as well as SEPARATE Saturday and Sunday hourly programs. In other words, if you subscribe to Classical 24 Weekday 0800, you will get the 8-9 a.m. feed of Classical 24 Monday through Friday. To receive Saturday at 8-9 a.m., you must separately subscribe to Classical 24 Saturday 0800.

Some NPR series, such as the NPR Newscasts, are divided by DAY (seven days a week) and also by hour. To receive all newscasts, you must subscribe to every program by the hour and by the individual day of the week.

For example:

To receive BBC World Service all day, Monday - Friday, the subscription process would be:

  1. Search for "BBC World Service Weekday"
  2. Select "BBC World Service Weekday 2300" from the search results
  3. Subscribe to "BBC World Service Weekday 2300"
  4. Search for "BBC World Service Weekday" (or use your browser back button to return to the original search results)
  5. Select "BBC World Service Weekday 2200" from the search results
  6. Subscribe to "BBC World Service Weekday 2200"
  7. Repeat steps 1-3 22 more times for the individual programs representing hours 0000 to 2100.


Why do I have to subscribe to NPR Newscasts every day and hour of the week?

Program producers decided on the configuration of their programs. In the case of the NPR Newscasts, this gives stations maximum flexibility in selecting only the newscasts they air by dividing the programs into day and hour.


How can I tell which decoder is which when I subscribe?

The convention NPR Distribution used in assigning your decoders is that the lowest serial number device is decoder 1, the second lowest is decoder 2, and so forth. The serial number is the bottom number on your streaming decoder's rear panel label.


How do I set up to receive breaking news?

To receive breaking news programming in the ContentDepot, stations must subscribe in advance to the designated "NPR Special Coverage/Breaking News" program.

  1. Since breaking news can occur at any time, a decoder audio output (port) must be dedicated by stations exclusively to receive breaking news.
  2. When breaking news occurs, the program producer contacts the NOC and arranges to transmit the live audio as a scheduled episode under the breaking news program. By subscribing to the Special Events Coverage/Breaking News program, you are automatically subscribed to receive all episodes, whenever they occur.
  3. Additional messaging via the ContentDepot portal will announce the breaking news event and contain operational information. NPR News may also activate SquawkNet.
  4. When the event coverage begins, program audio is routed by the Network Operations Center (NOC) to the breaking news stream and the program start relay is activated. If event coverage is part of an ongoing program, program audio is also routed to the original program stream.
  5. If NPR activates their SquawkNet system, the designated relay for "station routing" is activated on the breaking news channel. Depending on individual station configurations, transmitters switch from regular programming to the breaking news decoder or stations will need to manually switch to that decoder to put it on air.
  6. At the conclusion of the news event, audio on the breaking news stream stops, the "end" relay on the breaking news decoder is activated, which signals the end of the coverage and, in the event of a SquawkNet activation, a separate command on the SquawkNet system releases the transmitter for normal operations.

Where do I go for evergreens?

Program producers have been encouraged to upload evergreen episodes in the ContentDepot portal. When available, these evergreen episodes will be posted on the main program page. You can request evergreen files for download on-demand as needed. For live programs, you must be subscribed to a separate, specifically designated evergreen program to obtain a file-based evergreen episode. Again, it is at the producer's discretion whether an evergreen is available for a particular program.

 

How will I receive promos?

Pre-recorded promos will be uploaded by producers as part of the episode page. Promos will be delivered via the ContentDepot as soon as they are uploaded. You can also download promos from the portal.


How do I get help setting up my station information?

The Help system in the ContentDepot portal provides valuable information in getting you started. Simply click on the "Help" link from any page in the ContentDepot portal.

If you are unable to find the information you need, please contact our PRSS Help Desk at 800.971.7677, or prsshelp@npr.org.

Installation

The ContentDepot is easy for most stations to get up and running. A minimum level of connectivity and interface to your audio setup is required for ContentDepot to operate. After the initial installation, you may elect to integrate the ContentDepot into your production systems in more complex ways as required by your operation.

For technical documentation for installation, please visit our technical documents page.

Live and Stored Programs

Updated 12/15/08

What is the difference between live streams and stored programs?

The ContentDepot delivers to stations both live programs (streams) and stored programs (files). Programs that are recorded ahead of time (stored) are uploaded into the ContentDepot and subsequently downloaded into the station's satellite receiver.

Separating live and stored content reduces the need for concurrent live audio outputs. Four stereo analog and digital (AES/EBU) outputs will be the complement for station installations. The architecture supports more should a station need to expand beyond the base complement.

 

 

How does the ContentDepot handle a show that some record for later and others play live?

We have considered two mechanisms to support these types of programs. The first includes automatic ingest of the live feed into the ContentDepot for subsequent distribution as a stored program. The stored programs would be sent to subscribed (authorized) stations and stored on their receivers after the live feed is complete.

The second alternative requires a station to capture the stream when it airs live, store it, and then play it out when it is time for air using local automation. For those stations that air the show at a later time, it's also possible that the producer might arrange to send out additional live streams of the same program for later playback.

We believe the first option is best because it is easiest for stations. Either way, the ContentDepot accommodates these types of programs and their associated cues (if any).

 

If a program is being produced close to deadline, how long is the whole turnaround process?

One of the benefits of direct producer upload of pre-recorded episodes into the ContentDepot is that it gives producers the ability to submit programs "closer to deadline." The file submission deadline would be the producer-specified available airdate less a minimum threshold for delivery. That threshold is less than the delivery time it would take to submit programs on physical media via mail or Fedex.

 

How soon before my local air time can I expect to receive files for program XXX?

We are asking producers of pre-recorded programs to submit files to the ContentDepot early enough so programs will be in receivers no later than 2 hours before the earliest air time. In some cases where a program is both live on a satellite stream and available for repeats at stations, files will be sent after the live feed is complete. Whether or not files are generated from a particular live program is strictly up to the producer of that program; in some cases local repeats can only be accomplished by local recording of the live feed.

 

With the new system, are we still able to get a time sync from NPR Distribution to keep our automation computers on the correct time?

We are keenly aware of station reliance on clean time data to synchronize station clocks, automation systems and other devices.

ContentDepot delivers Network Time Protocol (NTP) to the storage receiver at each station. LAN-connected workstations and systems can retrieve time messages from the storage receiver. Using a standards-based protocol also gives station staffs the option of using an alternate trusted time standard like a locally provided GPS clock as their primary time reference.

 

What file format standard does the ContentDepot use for stored programs?

ISO/MPEG I, Layer II (MP2), 256 kilobits per second for stereo audio, 128 kilobits per second for mono audio, 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

ISO/MPEG I, Layer II is a well-known and well-understood data reduction scheme that has been in use for more than ten years. It's considered comparatively benign in environments where there are multiple transcoding stages. It's also a comparatively 'fast' algorithm to encode and decode audio—a characteristic confirmed during NPR's testing at the BBC in January 2003.

 

Where is the digital encoding of pre-recorded programs accomplished? Are producers still be able to send PRSS a DAT or CD?

For pre-recorded programs, the ContentDepot enables producers to upload encoded audio files directly via a web interface. This gives producers the ability to maintain audio control over their files and upload at their convenience.

ContentDepot staff will encode CDs and DATs for producers who do not have the capability of encoding files or uploading them via the web. We anticipate that there will be a surcharge for this additional service.


Will there be any additional cost to download missed programs?

Much like refeeds today, it takes additional bandwidth to transfer the file again, so a charge for on-demand download of missed programs is certainly a possibility. That being said, we are using techniques that make the reliability of successful delivery high.


I notice that some ContentDepot stereo files play only  in mono in my Windows Media Player. What's going on here?
 
ContentDepot Live With Subsequent Files (LWSF) and a few producer-supplied files are encoded as "dual channel" audio instead of "stereo" or "joint stereo." A quirk in the way Windows audio interprets "dual channel" audio files causes them to play the left audio channel in both audio outputs when using some consumer audio players like the Windows Media Player or the VLC Media Player. This issue does not affect stereo playback when using professional automation software, so it does not affect on-air operations at virtually all stations. It's also not an issue for Linux- or OSX-based playback systems.
 
There's currently no known "fix" for this issue other than using professional-grade audio tools for audio continuity or quality-control operations.

Subscribing to Programs

Updated 03/07/07

What is the mechanism for receiving programming in the ContentDepot?

In the ContentDepot, every station subscribes to the programs it needs. For live programs, the subscription process includes assigning the specific decoder port to which the audio will be routed. Once a subscription is established, the station will receive every episode of a program as it is transmitted. You will also receive promos, rundowns, and web modules (if provided by the producer) as part of the subscription package.
 

Can I assign a live program to more than one output?

A station may assign the same feed to a second port on a different decoder (maximum of two ports) for backup purposes or to service additional network feeds.
 

Can I stack up adjacent programs on the same output?

Adjacent programs can be assigned to the same decoder port back-to-back. The major producing networks such as American Public Media, PRI, and NPR have been reviewing their programs to include a five-second silence at the end of a program to accommodate program switching. However, we do NOT recommend that you try to "hot switch" back and forth between a program and insertions on the same decoder and port (e.g., from a program to a newscast or from Morning Edition to Marketplace).

We encourage you to map out your live program decoder assignments.
 

How do I subscribe to programs that are delivered in both live and file formats?

The ContentDepot has the capability of recording a live stream and redistributing the program as a file. The program will be segmented around any cues or contact closures in the program stream. The use of this feature is at a program producer's option. A program that is live with subsequent file is treated as a package. Therefore, you would need to subscribe to the live program (and thereby assign a decoder and port) to receive the live program in order to also get the files.


How is breaking news handled in a subscription model?

Stations that wish to receive Breaking News/Special Events Coverage in the ContentDepot at any time and without manual intervention will need to dedicate a decoder and port. NPR has established an NPR Special Events Coverage/Breaking News program to which your station must subscribe if you intend to take breaking news. In working with NPR, this is the most flexible solution that will require the least amount of station "real-time" activities.

 

Special Events Coverage/Breaking News

When something significant in the world is happening that program producers want to put on the air with very little (if any) advance notice, stations have to be notified and be able to switch over to the coverage.

Typically, breaking news programming is characterized by:

  • Little or no advance notice
  • Not necessarily starting at a typical time post
  • Interrupting programming currently on local air (subject to local programming decisions)
  • Few (if any) cutaways for local content insertion
  • Breaking the format "clock" of the program currently being transmitted on that stream
  • Unknown end time


Breaking news in the ContentDepot

During the first year of ContentDepot operations, the basic theory of breaking news will be unchanged. Voice cues and signaling will still be provided via the squawk channel and program audio will be delivered through existing resources piggybacking on existing bookings. The squawk channel's satellite frequency will change, however, to accommodate the planned expansion of the ContentDepot streaming carrier. Significant advance notice will be provided to stations about the move as details are available.


ContentDepot Breaking News Operations

The current view of breaking news support is outlined in the following steps.

  1. To receive breaking news programming in the ContentDepot, stations must subscribe to the designated "Special Coverage/Breaking News" programs created by the program producers.
  2. Since breaking news can occur at any time, a decoder audio output (port) must be dedicated by stations to receive breaking news. Depending on the amount of live programming used by a station, a station may need to purchase another decoder (two stereo audio outputs) to dedicate to these services.
  3. When breaking news occurs, the program producer schedules the news event with the PRSS for satellite transmission.
  4. Additional messaging via the ContentDepot portal will announce the breaking news event and contain operational information. NPR News may activate the squawk channel.
  5. When the event coverage begins, program audio is routed by the Network Operations Center to the breaking news stream and the program start relay is activated. If it is part of an ongoing program, program audio is also routed to the existing program stream.

    If NPR activates SquawkNet, the designated relay for "station routing" is activated on the breaking news channel. Transmitters switch from regular programming to the breaking news decoder. Stations that do not use the contact closures associated with the squawk channel to select the breaking news stream will need to manually switch to that decoder to put it on air.
  6. At the conclusion of the news event, audio returns to normal programming. On the breaking news stream, the "end" relay is activated, which signals the end of the coverage and, in the event of a SquawkNet activation, releases the transmitter for normal operations.