ATSC advances metadata protocol to make PSIP interfacing easier

January 5, 2004

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has approved a new candidate standard intended to make the interconnection of Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP) processing and other DTV metadata systems easier.

The new candidate standard, Programming Metadata Communication Protocol (PMCP), is intended to ensure transmitted PSIP information is “complete and correct” with minimal need for broadcasters to intervene manually, according to Graham Jones, chairman of the ATSC T3/S1 specialist group on PSIP metadata communication.

An ATSC candidate standard is an explicit call for implementation and technical feedback.

The new protocol, based on XML (extensible markup language) message documents, was developed by the T3/S1 specialist group to streamline metadata communications.

Among the reasons cited by the specialist group for relying on XML message documents are their flexibility, applicability to a variety of system architectures and ability to be deployed in the near term.

XML, a W3C standard, allows information to be structured in a text document so that it can be read by both humans and computers. The PMCP standard includes an XML scheme spelling out what elements are allowed in messages, their relationships, attributes and data types.

PMCP, which can also be extended to other metadata types and be used to carry private information, complements and references existing ATSC standards and supports the ISO V-ISAN standard for unique ID of program content.

According to ATSC, other extensions for PSIP metadata to support data broadcasting and for Enhanced VSB are expected in the future. A companion guide to using the PMCP Standard is also planned.

For more information, please visit: www.atsc.org/standards.html.

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