Compliance and Logging

  • With David Kirk

Compliance and Logging

Contributing Editor David Kirk looks at the latest developments in terms of hardware, software and services...

Broadcast compliance and logging techniques have developed strongly since their original dependence on the alertness and optical accuity of MCR staff. This overview summarises recent advances in both categories including direct quotes from some of the front-line product developers. Significant trends are the increasing implementation of multi-site connectivity which, not surprisingly, has become a practically universal feature.

Actus customers have recently requested proof of accurate programme names in their PSIP data, easy ways to produce FCC-required EAS reports with proof-of-airing, and proof they transmitted their audio in compliance with the loudness-related CALM Act. “Actus has evolved with the regulations delivering features to make it easy for them to either prove their compliance or be immediately alerted when their broadcast is not compliant,” says Ric Belding, VP of Solutions Engineering. Other countries have different regulations and laws not only about broadcast quality and metadata but often also about content. “For example, one country may require broadcasters to provide equal airtime to political advertisements while another has a mandatory requirement for their broadcasters to air presidential addresses. To address such needs, we developed tools to automate the recognition of political commercials and content across all television and radio stations in their country. By reporting the number of airings across all broadcasts and recording them 24/7, government broadcast regulators can form the necessary proof-of-airing compliance reports and levy fines when appropriate. Recent Actus developments include OTT StreamWatch streaming OTT Analysis, Actus RVM (Remove Video Monitoring) post-STB for MVPDs, and advanced search, analysis, and automated repurposing workflows. For example, customers can manually search for topics or subtitles, or set-up automated alerts when relevant information is aired. Additional advanced tools include competitive analysis with ratings and ad-sales lead-list generation based on automatic detection of advertisements airing on competitor’s channels. As broadcast and distribution methods have gotten more complex (SRT, 2110, ATSC 3.0, etc.), and additional viewing models have emerged (OTT, FAST, Connected-TV, SVOD, etc.), the Actus platform has stayed in sync with, or ahead of, the industry’s evolution with respect to compliance monitoring and logging. As complex audio technologies emerged (including 5.1 and multiple secondary audio tracks), Actus adapted to display levels properly and alarm on missing or incorrect audio. The Actus platform calculates and monitors loudness for all channel types and immediately alerts personnel of issues and generates reports. While investigating complaints and problems, Actus users can easily access raw data, view trends on graphs, and then click on logged incidents to immediately load the corresponding content. Another aspect of Actus quality monitoring is its configurable browser-based multiviewers with flexible mosaics that use snap-to alignment grids, assignable layout profiles for easy recall, inclusion of widgets to display things like loudness and TS data within the multiviewer, and on-screen alerts when there are compliance issues, such as missing captions, black on air, frozen images, missing SCTE and pixelation.”

Digital Nirvana’s MonitorIQ RM is a video monitoring system for remote hub and headend sites. A derivative of Digital Nirvana’s MonitorIQ, it is designed to monitor large numbers of individual locations very quickly. Cable operators and other video distributors can monitor hundreds of servers across a large geographic area to verify ad insertion, signal quality, service delivery, and proper programming placement at the local level, from one or multiple locations. Operators can see the entire channel lineup, change channels and view, fast forward, rewind or scroll through live or recorded content. This can be performed by region, ad zone or down to specific hubs or headends. Rather than having to go to every channel individually to set up a recording, technicians can schedule it on different channels and in different zones. We designed MonitorIQ RM only for remote monitoring, taking away the things people don’t need and simplifying the user interface to make it extremely easy to do the job with as few clicks as possible," says Digital Nirvana SVP Russell Wise. "Then we found a price and functionality point that makes it a smart solution to both purchase and deploy. MonitorIQ RM is available software-only or with server and hardware included. It is especially pertinent in Volicon RPM and Slingbox remote monitoring-type situations where we can bring access to live and recorded video at the touch of a fingertip from any place in the world.”

Easy Media Suite's Easy DVB Analyser enables operators to check all key aspects of DVB transport streams. It performs a variety of standards-based output stream validation tests. Supplied as software to run on a Windows-based PC, it can test for transport stream sync loss, sync byte error, continuity count error, PMT error, PID error and transport error, CRC error, PCR repetition error, PCR discontinuity indication error, PCR accuracy error, PTS error and CAT error. Also available is the Easy Multiviewer which can be used to monitor and analyse multiple sources. It can perform automatic tests for video and audio continuity, generating relevant alerts and logs. Audio level metering can be set to display multiple audio tracks or single audio track.

Enco Systems WebDAD 3.0 is the latest generation of the company’s browser-based, remote radio automation control system.  WebDAD lets users remotely manage and control studio-based Enco DAD radio automation systems from anywhere with an internet connection. Enhancements include an updated GUI layout designed to make operation more intuitive and streamline access to key features. Selectable dark/light modes let users tailor the display to their own preference. Reactive forms minimise the need to re-enter the same data in different sections of the workflow by retaining information across interface screens. “The ability for personnel to work remotely is critical in enabling today’s radio broadcasters to maximise their flexibility, efficiency, and operational resiliency,” says Enco System's President, Ken Frommert. “WebDAD 3.0 has been overhauled to address stations’ evolving remote access needs while providing an expandable and scalable platform for future functionality. WebDAD 3.0 also bolsters security with more granular control over user permissions, such as restricting access to specified libraries, functions, and systems."  Further Enco updates include a simplified deployment model for easier installation and upgrades; enhanced cross-browser support; and new support for third-party accessibility assistance tools to improve usability for people with impairments or disabilities. In addition to enabling remote management of on-premises DAD systems, WebDAD also serves as the user interface for Enco’s DAD Disaster Recovery (DAD-DR). A cloud-based companion to DAD automation systems, DAD-DR provides a continually synchronised clone of the broadcaster’s on-premises DAD deployment that is always ready to take over programme and ad playout if a natural disaster or critical technical failure occurs. DAD-DR operators can use WebDAD to update playlists remotely, add new content, voice track shows, and perform library maintenance even if their physical station is completely out of commission or inaccessible.

PlayBox Neo's Capture Suite is designed to maximise the efficiency of broadcast content ingest. Multiple ingest channels can be managed across multiple servers. Compliance-related features include a multiviewer with black-frame and frozen-frame alarms plus loudness audio level monitoring as well as manual, scheduled and compliance ingest modes with automated input switching. Functions such as input selection, ingest presets, file-naming rules, assignments and auto-transfer can be performed quickly and easily from a single graphic interface. Content can be edited before the completion of ingest. MXF and TS files are available for immediate playout via AirBox Neo-20 automation without having to wait for the ingest process to complete.

Qligent's Vision software is designed to perform monitoring and analysis of media service delivery. Available for on-premises, cloud-native or cloud-hybrid operation, it is claimed to provide a true picture of media performance across multiple delivery platforms with actionable insights across QoS, QoE and regulatory compliance.

Stirlitz Media software is used by TV and radio broadcasters and distribution platforms worldwide for their after-broadcast/compliance recording and comprehensive live OTT and DVB monitoring. The new Stirlitz Media Logger 8.0 (SML) introduces additional OTT video capture options, new export modes in webPlayer, more flexible alarms and new video database storage configurations. The timeline-based SML Player gives authorised users instant access to any part of the recordings via a web browser on their desktop or mobile. They can play, select and publish recorded content within a few seconds after capture. A single SML server can record a mix of up to 256 audio and 64 video stations from a mix of sources. MPEG-TS, OTT, NDI and AES67 sources are captured directly, RF, SDI, HDMI and audio through capture/tuner cards/devices. Combining multiple SML servers, the system can be scaled up to thousands of UHD, HD, SD and audio sources, optionally captured on different locations. An optional Enterprise upgrade provides support up to hundreds of concurrent connected users.

“Support for these additional capture modes in the Logger was a request from broadcast/OTT platforms that already use our IP Multiviewer Enterprise software based MCR,” says Greg Podsiadlo, President of Stirlitz Media.

“The multiviewer gives operators access to live video feeds with the option to hear the audio. But they also need to scroll back, watch, select and export from the recordings. Using the Logger Player this was already possible for DVB and HLS feeds; now we have added MPEG-DASH and RTMP and the logger will soon support SRT as well. All Stirlitz Media software is scalable, affordable, easy to use and most of all, rock solid. It can be tested in-house for free with any number of inputs.”

Vela's Infinity enables broadcasters to monitor, log, alert on exception, transcode, record and view the output of their new ATSC 3.0 channels in a manner integrated with all of the broadcaster’s legacy 1.0 channels, using the same compliance monitoring, technical and operations workflows.

Vela’s Constellation OTT solution enables broadcast stations and groups to monitor their OTT and FAST channels. Operators can monitor, log, verify, transcode, alarm on exception and multiview OTT and FAST channels. They can also perform aircheck and ad verification with Constellation OTT which is available as a purpose-built server, on virtual machines and for IP networking.

VoiceInteraction’s Media Monitoring System (MMS) monitors relevant QoS and QoE elements to ensure optimal delivery while incorporating features that streamline content creation, foster viewer satisfaction, reduce costs, and create monetisation opportunities. MMS uses proprietary automatic speech recognition and AI algorithms to ensure regulatory requirements and manage content. MMS records and stores incoming signals for compliance purposes, supporting a variety of sources for OTA and OTT channels. It performs on-premises or distributed capture and storage of continuous media feeds, with fully customisable alerts for any relevant QoS element.

An integrated multiviewer provides simultaneous access to multiple live/VOD broadcasts for real-time 24/7 monitoring. The automated speech recognition generates a full-text transcription and relevant, searchable metadata, automatic news clipping, topic assignment, keywords detection, anchor ID, title and summary generation.

MMS’ content fingerprinting technology also uses OCR for additional face and text recognition. The platform enables locating clips about a certain topic or person of interest, monitoring ad placements, keeping track of music royalties, and observing trends by adding Nielsen ratings or similar data. This information can be made available for every network channel or multiple market locations, including competitors. The generated clips and additional information can be exported to the web and social media. The index and search, combined with ratings, allow to suggest relevant clips and related content.