Six Keys for Success in Loudness Monitoring for Broadcasters

With the recent legislation on loudness monitoring, broadcasters the world over are now required to implement technology that keeps audio volume levels consistent between commercials and their accompanying programming. This has taken the form of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act in the United States and EBU PLOUD (R128: Tech 3341/2/3) in Europe. There are several additional international standards for loudness that require strict monitoring and compliance. These include: the international ITU BS.1770 standards; ATSC A/85; AGCOM (Italy); and others. 

Broadcasters and video service providers must be able to monitor for compliance and loudness regulations and easily troubleshoot and mitigate complaints to avoid fines from their governing bodies. The various legislation states that broadcasters and service providers must have a system in place to resolve and respond to complaints. The ability to log, monitor, and export loudness measurements is critical for broadcasters seeking compliance with this issue.

There are six essential features that must be present within a loudness monitoring system that promises to address today’s government mandates. They must be able to:

1)      Monitor at least 90 days of programing

2)      Provide visual thumbnails of what was playing at any moment in time

3)      Offer a printable time-stamped log of an entire 24-hour period or program, (providing both 1770-1 or 1770-2 values during extraction)

4)      Provide averaged loudness over a cut clip – This can be shown to the program provider upstream when a problem occurs. (It can be provided for a short form program or for a piece of dialog that is significantly not within the specifications.)

5)      Offer a convenient view of the instantaneous loudness level on the player

6)      Deliver alerts when programming is chronically out of range

Loudness Monitoring and More

Digital Nirvana’s flagship broadcast monitoring software, MonitorIQ, has a loudness monitoring and audio logging capability that meets all of those requirements. Contributing to the powerful audio capabilities of MonitorIQ is OEM software licensed from audio processing pioneer Minnetonka Audio Software, Inc. Minnetonka Audio’s AudioTools Loudness Measurement module enables MonitorIQ users to measure audio levels, perform quality control monitoring, record and log broadcast signals. With MonitorIQ, broadcasters can evaluate all common audio formats in their plant and be alerted whenever audio loudness exceeds acceptable limits. Loudness monitoring is bundled as a standard feature within MonitorIQ Essentials, Plus and Premium versions.

MonitorIQ incorporates Minnetonka Audio’s proprietary software within a broader feature set for loudness monitoring and logging of virtually all audio standards. With MonitorIQ being a 64-bit Linux-based system, and because Minnetonka Audio can upgrade its software to comply with any changes to loudness or other audio quality control standards, both products are relatively future-proof.

As the global leader in professional audio OEM licensing for Dolby Laboratories and DTS, Minnetonka Audio Software has been developing highly specialized audio processing software for over 20 years. Broad adoption of Minnetonka Audio’s algorithms for loudness measurement by European state broadcasters and major private European broadcasters attests to the reference implementation of the EBU and ITU recommended practices. The company’s retail, enterprise and OEM product lines are focused exclusively on audio, including encoding, QC, measurement and correction products for broadcast and content creation.

Digital Nirvana has licensed several Minnetonka technologies, including the AudioTools family of measurement products, for its powerful MonitorIQ broadcast monitoring system. Minnetonka Audio’s SurCode software licensed by Digital Nirvana includes technologies to decode and monitor Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby E. These industry–standard digital audio formats are widely used in ATSC/DTV and surround sound broadcasting.

Beyond Loudness

MonitorIQ is the only broadcast monitoring system that provides centralized management, automatic ad detection, a director’s audio track, as well as an advanced metadata harvester™.  The system also offers an efficient broadcast monitoring architecture that reduces operation costs and lowers the total cost of ownership.

Because the platform is based on open web services (REST) API’s, Digital Nirvana’s software can be easily integrated with third party products and can scale from one to multiple servers and from one to hundreds of channels. All Digital Nirvana solutions are web enabled, so users can access the software through any standard web browser without ActiveX component.

A powerful, new feature within the MonitorIQ Premier package is the Advanced Metadata HarvesterTM, which provides the ability to track any data the system logs and collects from alarms or from the broadcast feed. It can locate where the error occurred in the broadcast signal, collect forensic analysis about the event, and report that data back to the customer. It provides access to the data and to the mapping point of when, where and how that video was recorded.  This new feature dynamically enhances broadcast discrepancy reporting by allowing station executives and engineers to hyperlink straight to the reported video and view a problem or issue.

Digital Nirvana is actively engaged in the European broadcast market. Its European distributors include:  Broadcast Distribution LTD., LTRT, Video Signal, Twenty4Seven, Kapetanovic-Sistemi, and HMedia.