Today at the 2015 NAB Show, Volicon and Nexidia announced the release of a joint solution that enables comprehensive automated monitoring of closed-caption quality and descriptive video in compliance with the latest FCC regulations, put into force on March 16, 2015. Addressing key requirements of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the integrated solution from Volicon and Nexidia automatically captures content, extracts closed captions, determines if the caption file matches the media and is properly aligned, identifies any missing or incorrect caption segments anywhere in the file, and verifies the presence of descriptive video services (DVS).
"Up to this point, broadcasters have worked closely with caption vendors to develop best practices and create an environment in which captions are the best they can be, but the reality is that errors are made," said Andrew Sachs, vice president of product management at Volicon. "Given new regulatory pressure to maintain a high standard of caption quality, it is no longer sufficient to rely on customer feedback or manual monitoring strategies. Every broadcast feed, along with a broad array of Internet-delivered streams, now must meet new caption-quality standards, and effective compliance simply isn't possible without some form of automated electronic monitoring solution. That's exactly what Volicon and Nexidia have engineered."
The FCC rules define new quality standards for captioning that include accuracy, synchronicity, completeness, and placement. These rules apply not only to broadcast content, but also to video clips shown online -- every rendition of every stream in every format. Broadcast affiliates and cable channels with the top market shares now also are required to begin providing and tracking at least 50 unique hours of video description content per quarter.
Round-the-clock manual closed-captioning monitoring in accordance with these requirements is cost-prohibitive for most broadcasters, and spot-checking is simply not comprehensive enough. The integration of Volicon's Observer(R) monitoring and logging technology, long trusted for compliance in broadcast stations, with Nexidia Comply, which uses patented audio analysis technology, facilitates scalable and cost-effective automated monitoring of the final broadcast output.
"Closed captioning and video description are critical concerns for broadcasters today, not only because of new FCC regulations, but also because they enhance consumers' experience of the final product and make it accessible to a much broader audience," said Drew Lanham, senior vice president and general manager of Nexidia's Media and Entertainment division. "Along with the continued growth of broadcast and Internet-based content distribution has come an expansion of the regulations governing that content. Working in partnership with Volicon, we have developed an automated and complete solution that enables broadcasters to handle these challenges with ease and flexibility."
The joint solution from Volicon and Nexidia continually captures content, along with critical metadata, so that users can dial back in time and view recorded content to determine if closed-captioning was correct. Using data from the as-run log, the solution performs electronic monitoring of closed-captioning and alerts operators to possible defects or absences of captioning data in specific programs. The visual log and captured metadata provide both visual and electronic confirmation of compliance (or noncompliance), so the user can create an unambiguous visual and aural affidavit of caption placement and timing. This capability supports internal troubleshooting, work with the closed-captioning vendor to prevent future issues, and responsiveness to any regulatory concerns.
Nexidia Comply's sophisticated audio analysis technology facilitates accurate analysis of spoken content, in turn enabling the automation of file-based closed-captioning, DVS, and spoken and written language verification. Using the audio or video file along with a sidecar closed-captioning file, the solution identifies voice activity within the file and matches it with what was actually said. This process confirms whether or not the closed-captioning file is complete and representative of what was spoken, and that it is properly timed.
In performing DVS verification, the solution compares the original program audio with the version that has had video description inserted. The aim is to verify that the two versions are generally the same with only slight differences (as should be the case). The solution finds the location and nature of the differences and determines if there is voice activity. When both voice activity and video description are detected, the solution reports on whether or not the segment matches the normal program audio, thus indicating whether or not DVS aired.
The joint solution from Volicon and Nexidia is available now as a fully integrated turnkey system for closed-captioning quality compliance. The solution also may be enabled as an upgrade to deployed Observer systems.
Further information about Volicon's Observer technology and the company's complete product portfolio is available at www.volicon.com. Additional information about Nexidia and the company's products is available at www.nexidia.tv.