Nine TV Groups Agree on Air-Ready File Delivery Specs

LAS VEGAS—A consortium of media companies have agreed on air-ready file delivery specs. ABC/Disney, Bell Media, CBC/Radio-Canada, Fox, HBO, NBCUniversal, PBS, Time Warner and Turner have all agreed on a common file format, structure and wrapper based on the AS-11 UK DPP specification adopted in the United Kingdom two years ago. The result is two new new technical specifications for the delivery of finished air-ready programs for North America, both developed by the North American Broadcasters Association and the Digital Production Partnership and unveiled during the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

“The key principle for this work was that the agreed specifications must be commonly defined, testable, unambiguous—and produce business value,” said Clyde Smith, senior vice president of new technology for Fox and the NABA technical lead. “The agreed common specifications will minimize confusion and expense for program-makers, and avoid the proliferation of different file types and specifications.”

The specifications are based on the Advanced Media Workflow Association AS-11 specification, with the following features:

• File format: MXF OP-1A
• Video Encoding: MPEG-2 XDCam or AVC/H.264
• Video Signal Standard: 1080i or 720p
• Colour Sub Sample: 4:2:2 or 4:2:0
• Audio: Supports a common fixed channel assignment and Dynamic assignment of Audio Tracks
• A minimal editorial metadata set

Work with the AMWA to define the rules for these file formats, which will be a part of the AS-11 family of specifications, is nearly complete. The team also will be working with the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers to support these specifications in the Broadcast Exchange Format, or BXF. The DPP will continue to work with NABA to support implementation activities, including the development of supporting materials and educational seminars planned for New York, Toronto, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

The specifications are the first output from the strategic partnership formed between NABA and the DPP in April 2015. Work will continue between the two organizations looking at Ultra High Definition for North America and at the development of a Mastering Format. This will help to reach the ultimate goal of the NABA/DPP partnership—to promote the international exchange of content through the definition and implementation of common specifications.

The agreement of these new technical specifications won’t bring an immediate move to a common delivery format. However, the transition will begin over the next 12 months with some networks that are in position to take delivery of programs to these specifications on a selective basis.

Production companies that want to deliver to these new specifications should discuss this at the point of commission, and seek formal agreement with their broadcaster at the outset of production.

The current versions of the generic specifications are: