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skype-logo-feb_2012_rgb_500Skype wants to make it easier for broadcasters to use its video chat software to interview people on air, so it’s announcing Skype TX: “studio-grade” software that’s designed to provide professional quality audio and video in a package that works with existing broadcast studio setups.

The software will include a number of improvements over Skype’s consumer product, including the ability to manage several simultaneous calls through one interface, and HD-SDI input and output of video feeds.

It’s an important move, as more and more media companies are turning to Skype as a way to bring far-flung interview subjects into a broadcast conversation without having to send a crew with a satellite uplink truck, or ask someone to drive to a studio.

The announcement of Skype TX follows the company’s acquisition of Cat and Mouse, the makers of CatCall, software that provides similar functionality to broadcasters. While Skype is one of the leading video chat providers, it’s facing competition from a number of angles, including Google Hangouts, which the White House uses for its videoconferences with the President.

Skype TX will be available “in the coming year,” and it’s not clear how much it will cost broadcasters, though the company’s blog post says that there won’t be any transmission fees for connecting to interviewees using Skype. Before the software goes live, Skype has created a special “Skype in Media” page to show off the capabilities of its platform.

Here’s the full feature list from Skype’s blog post:

  • Powerful – Seamlessly adds full-frame Skype video and audio via SDI.
  • Responsive – User experience is optimized for broadcast workflow with API integration and call management.
  • Quality – A single, integrated production grade system to deliver professional audio and video calls. Skype video feeds processed into broadcast formats:
    • Free of audio/visual distractions such as call notifications and ads.
    • HD-SDI Video output/input
    • Balanced audio output/input
    • Auto aspect ratio conversion
  • Total control – Empowers a single operator to manage multi-channel calls and create compelling, new formats with HD-SDI Skype video feeds direct to your switcher.
  • Go anywhere – Cost effective for use in studio and outside broadcast integration.
  • Reliability – Built for always-on operation in a dynamic environment, including call handling management for multiple, simultaneous Skype calls on one management interface, plus operator previews, auto fall back to still and call quality monitoring.
  • Support – Fully supported by a team of specialist Microsoft-trained broadcast technical team.
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