Where the new digital production standards are really at

Reading the article in last week’s B&T about new technical standards of Radio production and distribution for DAB+, one could be forgiven for thinking that a consortium between AdStream and Fairfax Radio Syndication had won some sort of tender to provide some sort of service. “Not so!” says CRA’s Joan Warner.

The B&T article stated: “AdStream has joined forces with Fairfax Radio Syndication to create the radio industry’s first set of uniform commercial production standards since deregulation in 1992.”

“No no, that’s not it at all,” Commercial Radio Australia CEO, Joan Warner told radioinfo. “I don’t know who put that story out.”

The article went on to say, “The backbone of the new standards is a ‘Watermark’ process intended to ensure accurate delivery and synchronization of both audio and visual advertising messages for digital radio use.”. ‘Watermarking’ is the process used by Fairfax Radio Syndication, and Fairfax Digital Courier to verify advertising has been broadcast as per the schedule that was booked.

But a media release issued by Commercial Radio Australia suggests that although Fairfax and Adstream presented a set of draft specifications which were distributed for comment at the end of 2008, they are just two of the stakeholders who have been invited to provide input into developing the new production specs.

A meeting last week was attended by Audionet, DubSat, Music Point and DStar along with technical heads from ARN, Austereo, DMG and Fairfax Radio. Ms Warner said, “They (Adstream/Fairfax) put forward a proposal, which was fine and everybody had a look at it. Audionet put forward a proposal and Austereo had done some work on it as well.”

“The outcome is that a working group has been formed including all of those people to come up with an industry standard. Adstream and Fairfax got together and put forward a proposal for handling external material coming from agencies. Audionet had a proposal that supplemented that. And Austereo had views about marrying material on internal systems.

“There’s not going to be a contract or a consortium its just going to be a set of standards that the industry will agree to with input from each of the digital courier companies,” said Ms Warner.

When the digital radio production and distribution specifications are adopted, by the end of this month, they will provide consistent audio and visual production values to meet digital radio’s unique needs and specifically match audio and text/image files at the final broadcast point to ensure the correct visuals are displayed with the correct audio.