New Compliance Tools Bring New Revenue Opportunities

Compliance solutions have rapidly transformed a once operator-intensive legal necessity into suites of automatic processes for new revenues.

“It’s halfway to Mars by now," a prime-time newscast director I used to work with would say if anyone on the PL noted a live, on-air mistake. At that time in the late 1960s, my station owned three quad VTRs, everything else was live or film. There was no home recording. If a sponsor complained that the station cut off the last word of their ad, the only diplomatic solution was a make-good and maybe a lunch. It was a difficult time for TV stations to win as-aired disputes.

The invention, proliferation and falling prices of VCRs and now DVR apps, digital media storage and streaming internet video has brought a tremendous amount of responsibility, credibility and power to broadcasters. It also means content clips from your station are being recorded, distributed and seen in more ways than any 1960's TV engineering visionary could have possibly imagined.

Live TV content moving at lightspeed doesn't vanish in outer space like it did before VCRs. Content clips go to the cloud and can spread in the cloud, making everyone in the clip famous forever, worldwide. How else could a recent Microsoft Bing search for ‘TV bloopers’ yield 127 million results? 

Before desktop PCs and cheap VHS machines recording 24/7 air-checks proliferated in TV stations, compliance meant signed manual entries in the daily Program and Transmitter Logs to meet FCC requirements and stay out of court. Typical compliance gear was a typewriter or pen and clipboard, a VU meter, a waveform monitor and some transmitter meters to read. Since then everything in TV broadcasting has changed, with the exception of the ubiquitous News-Weather-Sports local newscast format.

Today’s TV compliance gear has leapfrogged manual 'instances and incidents' logging on sheets of paper. A recent White Paper by Actus Digital CEO Sima Levy provided fresh insight into how TV stations are parlaying their legal compliance responsibilities and capabilities into revenue streams. This story is based on what she shared.

Compliance Churn

There has been an influx of end-of-life compliance products in the TV market. One of the most recent compliance solutions declared to be at the end of its life is Volicon Observer, which Verizon declared at end-of-life without a replacement. Volicon follows the footsteps of Axon TRACS, Suitcase, TV Log and other compliance solutions that were all declared end of life. In some cases, the manufacturers are not shutting down, just their compliance products.

The reason is that broadcasters expect more from their compliance investment. Once the air-check media is captured for compliance and archiving, it can automatically be repurposed and sold to new sponsors for OTT, on-demand clips on the station website and social media, and other emerging protocols, creating a compliance gear ROI while fully documenting mandatory content and technical data for legal purposes.

Clip Factory provides tools to record, create and edit clips, add effects and metadata, transcoding to any format and finally distribute the content to web portals, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or OTT.

Clip Factory provides tools to record, create and edit clips, add effects and metadata, transcoding to any format and finally distribute the content to web portals, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or OTT.

Post-Flight Future

Today's TV broadcasters want a compliance solution that does more than monitor and document what they broadcast. What they need is a post-production platform that can simultaneously handle other tasks such as quality assurance, video analysis, advanced clips creation for social, OTT monitoring, multiviewer capabilities, automatic clipping, intelligent searching and keywords alerts, ads detection, and more, all from a single platform.

Actus Digital CEO Sima Levy said “From our experience, when a broadcaster specifies the requirements for a compliance system, that description includes options that are not related to a 'typical compliance solution' and were not expected not many years ago. Compliance technology companies that are not aware of or ignore the shifting requirements won’t survive.”

According to Levy, broadcasters expect their compliance solution to have multiple capabilities. For example, stations expect the ability to check the quality of service of the aired content and send real-time alerts regarding any issues related to audio, video, loudness, closed captions, and subtitles.

Stations also need to build and maintain viewer engagement on social media platforms. What would be better than a compliance platform that also enables fast content turnaround that helps repurpose content quickly to social media, the web, and OTT platforms? Such features provide an easy workflow for clips editing, adding metadata, as well as automation options, using AI for keywords detection, defined rules, video analysis, ads detection, and more.

The purpose is to replace the old legacy editing systems for clips creation that were typically used for TV content. Compliance systems are more simple tools that can be used by everyone, and not just by professional editors. In addition, they provide faster clips creation workflow, from anywhere and from any workstation and of course, they are more cost effective.

“When you talk about clips for new media platforms, speed is the most significant factor,” Levy noted. “Stations want a media monitoring platform that supports multiple deployment environments and options to easily switch between different deployment environments, including on-premise, virtualization, cloud, and hybrid. This gives broadcasters the most flexibility, allowing them to select the model that fits their business the best,” she said.

Stations want program rating analysis and competitive analysis tools to help improve ratings and protect and increase revenues.

Stations want program rating analysis and competitive analysis tools to help improve ratings and protect and increase revenues.

Stations want to integrate between different solutions in order to gain even more powerful tools. For example, a station may want the ability to automatically create clips with specific keywords based on clips abilities as well as speech-to-text abilities.

Cashing-In with AI

AI has emerged as a solution for speeding up workflows, allowing media companies to automatically tag, organize, and categorize video recordings. This enables fast retrieval of relevant content and clips creation for social media outlets and the web. AI can make processes that once required hours of manual labor instantaneous.

AI-based solutions also allow users to more intelligently monitor and search for content beyond the channel name, date/time, extracted metadata such as as run/EPG, closed captions, and any extracted or manually entered metadata. 

Compliance solutions typically have a large media archive. Without using AI, this archive is hardly of any use when you implement AI options, suddenly the archive becomes useful and can be re-used. 

Broadcasters can search for spoken words, text that appears in video content, specific faces and ads that have been aired. In addition to searching, they can be automatically alerted any time relevant data appears within the audio or video.

If, for example, a broadcaster wants to automatically generate clips every time the word “football” is said and its monitoring platform includes a workflow for clips creation, AI enables ultra-fast clips turnaround, saving stations time and money. Human resources for monitoring or searching are unnecessary. The information will pop up and football clips can be produced and posted automatically. The process is extremely accurate, ensuring stations don’t miss any relevant content.

The best AI-based monitoring systems offer broadcasters a single, integrated solution for compliance, clips creation, and quality of service monitoring. Not long ago, each of these tasks required a different piece of equipment, from different vendors.

Today’s AI capabilities of monitoring systems are exclusively cloud-based to enable transparent AI engine upgrades and continuous advancements. Hosted in the cloud, the AI engine keeps learning, and no on-prem training is needed, which are benefits that on-prem and virtual machine (VM) systems simply cannot provide.

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