The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are leading a cross-broadcaster initiative to establish common digital standards.

A document on HD will be the first piece of work by the Digital Production Partnership (DPP), which is funded and led by the three terrestrial broadcasters and has representations on its working groups from Channel 5 and Sky, as well as the indie and post-production sectors.

The HD and SD guidelines, which the DPP hopes to release at the end of February, will address equipment and techniques and provide common technical standards, including format, video line-up, levels and gamut, the use of non-HD material and tape delivery.

ITV director of broadcast resources Helen Stevens, who is chair of the DPP, said the guidelines would benefit the entire broadcast community.

“I think this will touch all departments, from the point of completion through to marketing, access services, compliance - all the way through the supply chain,” she said.

A set of guidelines on file-based standards will follow “hard onthe heels” of the HD document,Stevens said, with the DPP also planning to address the issues of shared storage and cloud access and metadata standards.

“Metadata could be hugely complex, so we want a minimum, standardised set of metadata to be supplied with or added to completed programmes.”

Stevens said she had been surprised by the level of co-operation among broadcasters, but conceded that certain points would not be subjects for discussion among the rivals.

“We do have to be careful that areas we look at are not seen as commercially competitive. This is all about the practicalities of the supply chain.”

BBC North controller of production Mark Harrison, the BBC lead for the DPP, added: “This partnership reflects the broadcasters’ genuine desire to help producers and facility houses to overcome the complexities, and get to the benefits of digital working more quickly.”


The HD and SD standards document will cover:

Video technical requirements:
High definition format
Video line-up, levels and gamut
Aspect ratios
Use of non-HD material
Film for HD acquisition
Photosensitivity epilepsy guidelines
Safe area for captions
Standards conversion

Audio technical requirements:
Stereo audio requirements
Surround sound requirements
Sound to vision sync

Delivery Requirements:
Programme layout/format
Ident clock
Tape delivery including information such as format, paperwork and timecode