New standard helps preserve captions on catch-up TV

Thursday, 14 April 2011 17:24pm

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has made freely available a standard that will enable captions from broadcast TV and broadband video programming to work together – or to interoperate.

The official description for the SMPTE ST 2052-1:2010 standard, called Time Text Format (SMPTE-TT) states:

“This Standard defines the SMPTE profile of W3C Timed Text Markup Language (TTML), designated SMPTE-TT, which may represent Captions or Subtitles. It identifies the features from TTML required for interoperability between display systems for the format. In order to preserve certain semantic features of the input formats, SMPTE-TT also defines some standard metadata terms to be used, and some extension features not found in TTML.”

The new standard will facilitate the passing through of captions when TV programs are reshown on the Internet. In Australia, ABC’s online TV service iView remains the only catch-up video service  that preserves captions.

Unlike the recently passed 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act in the US, there is currently no Australian policy that mandates the preservation of captions from traditional broadcast to broadcast via the Internet. It is expected that these issues will be reviewed in the upcoming Convergence Review.


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