Master control is the technical hub of a broadcast operation common
among most over-the-air television stations and television networks.
It is distinct from a production control room (PCR) in television
studios where the activities such as switching from camera to camera
are coordinated. It is also vastly different from the studio where the
talent are located. A transmission control room (TCR) is usually
smaller in size and is a scaled down version of centralcasting.
Master control is the final point before a signal is transmitted
over-the-air for terrestrial television or cablecast, satellite
provider for broadcast, or sent on to a cable television operator.
Television master control rooms include banks of video monitors,
satellite receivers, videotape machines, video servers, transmission
equipment, and, more recently, computer broadcast automation equipment
for recording and playback of television programming.
Master control is generally staffed with one or two master control
operators around-the-clock, every day to ensure continuous operation.
Master control operators are responsible for monitoring the quality
and accuracy of the on-air product, ensuring the transmission meets
government regulations, troubleshooting equipment malfunctions, and
preparing programming for playout. Regulations include both technical
ones (such as those against over-modulation and dead air), as well as
content ones (such as indecency and station ID).
Many television networks and radio networks or station groups have
consolidated facilities and now operate multiple stations from one
regional master control or centralcasting center. As an example of
this centralized broadcast programming system on a large scale is
NBC's "hub-spoke project" that enables "hub" cities such as New York
City, Los Angeles, and
Miami, Florida to originate television
commercials, breaks and programming for many of its smaller individual
stations, thus reducing or eliminating some responsibilities and
employees of the local master control at NBC, ABC, FOX, Televisión
Pública Argentina (Argentina),
Channel 13 (Argentina) (Argentina),
Rede Globo (Brazil),
RecordTV (Brazil), Rede
Bandeirantes (Brazil) owned-and-operated (O&O) stations.
Outside the United States, the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
manages four radio networks, two broadcast television networks, and
several more cable/satellite radio and television services out of just
two master control points (English language services at the Canadian
Broadcasting Centre in
Toronto and French language at Maison
Radio-Canada in Montreal). Many other public and private broadcasters
have taken a similar approach (although the CBC's operation is
arguably more complicated than most, with local breakaways on radio
and local advertisements on television).
One of ESPN's new digital master control rooms, MCR-D1, in Bristol,
Fox Business Network's Master Control with lights off
Fox Business Network's Master Control room with lights on.
Network operations center
Central apparatus room