In April 2015, the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA) and the Digital Production Partnership Ltd (DPP) announced a strategic partnership to promote the international exchange of content through the definition and implementation of common specifications, to benefit the wider broadcasting industry.
Through joint NABA and DPP meetings, nine of the major North American broadcasters – ABC/Disney, Bell Media, CBC/Radio-Canada, Fox, HBO, NBCUniversal, PBS, TimeWarner and Turner – have agreed a common file format, structure and wrapper based on the AS-11 UK DPP specification implemented in the UK in 2014.
The outcome is two new technical specifications (published April 2016) for the delivery of finished air-ready programs for North America. The current versions of the generic specifications are available via the links on the right-hand side.
The specifications are based on the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) AS-11 specification and work is ongoing to define the rules for these file formats, full details can be found below:
The AS-11 X8 specification is not intended to be a foundation for the future, it is aimed at NABA broadcasters who currently use legacy MPEG-2 based codecs. It will allow them to migrate to AS-11 workflows before utilising more up to date codecs (e.g. AS-11 X9) in the future.
The team will also be working with the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) to support these specifications in BXF (Broadcast Exchange Format).
Not every North American broadcaster will move to these new technical specifications immediately. The transition will start in 2016 and continue into 2017 with various networks taking delivery of programs to these specifications on a selective basis.
Production companies wishing to deliver to these new specifications should discuss this at the point of commission, and seek formal agreement with their broadcaster at the outset of production.