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EBU Teams Up With Digital Production Partnership Over Mastering and Security

The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) has struck a partnership with the Digital Production Partnership Ltd (DPP), a UK based business change network, to promote open standards for interoperability between all components of the video cycle as the industry continues its march towards all-IP based workflows. The two bodies are parading their partnership at IBC, with the initial focus on content security and deployment of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF).

IMF arose as the industry migrated from tape-based to file-based workflows. Without it the task of delivering multiple versions of digital content for different use cases such as airlines, online platforms and multiple languages, from a single source, would be expensive and time consuming. IMF was developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) to facilitate the management and processing of these multiple content versions from the same high-quality original work, whether this is a feature, episode, trailer, advertisement, or other form of content, for worldwide distribution.

IMF is therefore designed either for internal or business-to-business content transactions, rather than direct delivery to consumers. It is a specification both for the Distribution Service Master and also Archival Master. It supports all the key components and ensures their integration, including audio and video itself, as well as data essence in the form of subtitles and captions. It also supports descriptive and dynamic metadata, which can vary with time and will play an increasing role in Ultra HD content as part of the overall package to improve picture quality. IMF then specifies wrapping or encapsulation of the media and data, as well as dynamic metadata, into well understood temporal units called track files using the MXF (Material eXchange Format).

At IBC, the Digital Production Partnership Ltd (DPP), set up by broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4, will demonstrate how IMF for Broadcast & Online will transform the mastering process with the first proof of concept presentation. Both DPP and EBU will also elaborate on their partnership, which is concerned with fostering global acceptance of IMF and other standards needed to underpin interoperability. "Interoperability and open standards are of fundamental importance to public service media," said EBU Director of Technology & Innovation, Simon Fell. "We are confident that the partnership between EBU and DPP will help to drive the industry towards consensus around emerging standards, delivering value to all stakeholders."

The partnership between EBU and DPP will help drive the industry towards consensus around emerging standards, according to EBU Director of Technology and Innovation, Simon Fell.

The partnership between EBU and DPP will help drive the industry towards consensus around emerging standards, according to EBU Director of Technology and Innovation, Simon Fell.

The partnership will also be majoring on security, especially aspects around interoperability and content storage that are not addressed so much by the traditional providers of Conditional Access. This, suggests the DPP, has also not been addressed adequately by providers of legacy security software in the IT data center domain, which has not adapted to the large amounts of data now being stored in the cloud by broadcasters and pay TV operators. A particular cause of vulnerabilities is the fact that many third parties are now involved in video ecosystems, opening media companies up to large scale transfer of content and sensitive personal or metadata information. The march towards greater personalization also exposes operators to damaging security breaches by exposing customer data covered by privacy rules.

The good news is that the remedy lies in application of long established principles rather than new technical measures. This includes avoiding single points of failure and not making large amounts of sensitive data accessible from a single login. Similarly, back up or replicated copies should be hidden from view and not available in the same session as the primary copy. By the same token, given the old adage that most hacks and malicious actions originate from insiders, it is not wise to give any one person all the keys.

Education is essential and should be conducted on a regular basis, while maintaining a coherent and well tested digital content governance strategy. Backup, disaster recovery and replication strategies must be reviewed regularly. But perhaps the major point is that whatever measures are adopted hackers will get through all defenses occasionally, so steps have to be taken to ensure that successful attacks cause as little damage as possible. Sensitive data should be kept in purpose built storage. Critical systems need to be capable of immediate shut down in the event of an attack being detected. One technical measure that does need taking therefore is deployment of effective surveillance and monitoring, which some of the traditional video security vendors do provide.

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