On-air playback and automation

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The innovative phase of on-air playback systems has reached its peak. This year's presentation was composed of further refinements to mostly existing products.

The biggest splash was in free software. Two companies, Arrakis and Smarts, offered free versions of automation software, following a trend that has been used in other industries that rely on computer software. It is likely that more companies will follow this lead with similar specific-feature versions.

Most companies displayed software with additional facility integration capabilities. The Cart Chunk standard, a means to include file data and a hot topic last year, has been adopted by many manufacturers. Other efforts have been made to include or enhance newsroom and production capabilities.

Ad insertion was also a big buzz because of the RIAA and AFTRA items in the news. Most systems can now support some type of ad insertion within their systems. Still other manufacturers were showing multiple stream capabilities and database functions for program-associated data to be sent with webcasts.

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