Working With a Net
TV Guide turns to an automated solution for preflighting and digital ad submission.
In television, there are many recognizable icons—the NBC Peacock, the tell-tale ticking of 60 Minutes' stopwatch, the CBS eyeball—but few rival the TV lover's most sacred companion, TV Guide.
Published weekly by the TV Guide Magazine Group, New York City, TV Guide offers a compact, easy-to-grab-from-the-coffee-table alternative to channel surfing.
Those precious ads
What keeps the publication thriving, like many other magazines, is its advertising base. "We receive ads from more than 700 different advertisers," remarks Tim Davis, graphics manager for TV Guide's advertising production department. "And we're confronted with a problem of receiving consistent files. … One of the joys, yet curses, of desktop publishing is that everyone thinks they can design a good file for printing.
"My department mostly receives QuarkXPress files," adds Davis. "Ideally, we'd like to get files that have already been collected, preflighted and ready to go. Then, we can either [write] PostScript from those files, or we can create a PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format). Those files would then be sent on to any one of the 10-plus printers that we use."
With an eclectic mix of advertisers and agencies feeding digital files to TV Guide, file quality gets called into question. The predicament presents the magazine with two choices of action: The complacent approach would be to simply wait and hope that advertisers are quick studies and pick up the concept of good file preparation quickly. The second approach would position the magazine as a teacher. Davis and his colleague, Benjamin Waldie, software engineer for TV Guide's IT department, chose the teaching role.
In search of a solution to automate preflighting, Waldie and Davis discovered Markzware's (Santa Ana, CA) FLIGHTCHECK application.
While the software offered the verification functions the publication needed, its implementation was not ideal. "Our designers prefer to be designers," Davis professes. "Their expertise is not in preflighting, so we needed to make preflighting easier for them—almost invisible, in fact. And we needed to assure that we down here in production have consistently clean files."