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EBU publishes new subtitling specification

The EBU has published EBU-TT (Timed Text) part 1, as a follow-up to its current EBU STL subtitle specification originally published in 1991.

The new format is XML-based, which makes it “human readable” and better suited to modern integrated file-based production methods than the old standard designed for an era when subtitles were loaded from floppy disks.

EBU-TT is a simplified version of the W3C Timed Text specification, which ensures it blends well with the broad family of IP based standards including W3C TTML and SMPTE TT, which is more focused on the US environment and on distribution. EBU-TT was developed by the EBU's XML Subtitles group, chaired by Andreas Tai of IRT, the technology and research center for German language public broadcasters.

Part 1 (Tech 3350) has been published, defining a structure for the interchange and archiving of subtitles. Part 2 is currently being drafted and will provide mapping guidance for users who want to migrate from EBU STL to EBU-TT. Work has also started towards a specification for live subtitling.