BBC Worldwide: “Agreeing common file delivery formats is an achievable step”

Rod Carter, Head of Digital Asset Management at BBC Worldwide

Rod Carter, Head of Digital Asset Management at BBC Worldwide

Rod Carter, Head of Digital Asset Management at BBC Worldwide, on the progress being made to digitise key content within BBC Worldwide’s library, and the consequences he sees for content distributors as they move to more IT-based asset management systems.

How is the process going to digitise key content within BBC Worldwide’s library?

As a content distributor BBC Worldwide has in excess of 200,000 broadcast-quality assets located in strategic libraries around the world, with further access to over 2mn+ assets from the BBC’s archive in a variety of formats.

The challenge was to identify which content is active within our distribution catalogue and prioritise the encoding of these assets into a consolidated DAM. We partnered with Sony DADC to provide the digital supply chain.

At present, we’ve proactively digitised over 15,000 of these assets to a uniform standard for both HD and SD. We also have a streamlined ‘on-demand’ digitisation programme to manage new content and older archive titles as required.

What steps are you taking to preserve key data within analogue assets?

Being a content distributor rather than a preservation archive, it is important for us at BBC Worldwide to balance the need to ingest new content with that of preserving unique content from ageing and redundant broadcast formats.

To this end we instigated a project that would preserve an exact copy of our programme master (held on D3 and 1” tape) to an uncompressed file format as well as creating a useable file for ingest into our DAM.

During this process we ran our tapes through a unique workflow that would remove inherent PAL related artefacts typically found in earlier analogue tape formats (PAL Transform Decoder).

The uncompressed file was transferred to LTO 5 tapes and the digital file was legalised/QC’d and ingested into our DAM to service future sales. Provenance information is also captured as technical metadata associated to the essence.

What consequences do you see for content distributors as they move to more IT-based management systems?

One consequence is the reliance on Internet bandwidth for Master file delivery. Such deliveries have file sizes way in excess of what consumers would typically download.

Therefore we are often restricted in our ability to deliver digital assets to customers by the bandwidth available to them in their native countries. Advances in file transfer acceleration and delivery technologies combined with increasingly economic bandwidth are helping to mitigate this.

Additionally, solutions developed around commodity IT infrastructure reduce the total return on investment (ROI) by harnessing existing skills within corporate IT departments and lower equipment costs.

What steps do you believe necessary to achieving greater interoperability as multi-platform services proliferate?

Agreeing common delivery formats is an achievable step. We are already seeing some standardisation of delivery packages (essence and metadata specs) as customers choose from a selection of pre-defined specifications.

The Digital Production Partnership is advancing this idea and has agreed the UK’s first common file format, structure and wrapper to enable TV programme delivery by file.

Rod will be speaking at the Digital Asset Management World Summit event taking place in Amsterdam on 23-24 October. For more information and to register, please visit

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