Broadcasters are expected to begin implementing new loudness regulations next year after the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) publishes a new set of guidelines.

Variations in volume are the single biggest cause of viewer complaints, according to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which has published its own standard for broadcasters to measure and normalise audio using loudness meters rather than peak meters.

The DPP is now working with trade body UK Screen on an amended version of the EBU spec R128, which it expects to publish in the first quarter of next year.

DPP Technical Standards Group chairman Kevin Burrows said: “We want to make sure we implement it before we encounter any regulatory problems.

“There is no pressure from Ofcom but we don’t want to wait for that to happen.”

Several European countries have already started adopting the recommendations; France has linked R128 to its audio-visual legislation and French-speaking broadcasters in Belgium lasweek switched to R128, while broadcasters in Germany and Austria have agreed to start applying the recommendations by the end of August.

“We also need to look at how we will measure overall broadcast output; a programme in isolation could be compliant [with R128] but we need to make sure the overall broadcast, including commercials and promos, is compliant,” said Burrows.

UK Screen’s representative on the DPP Technical Standards Committee Neil Hatton said dubbing mixers were not the only people who needed to be familiar with the guildelines.

“Quick-turnaround programmes or those with a tight budget that don’t go through sound suites will also have to comply with the standard.”

  • UK Screen will host a seminar on 25 September to discuss the implementation of the loudness standard.