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BARC to begin commercial deployment of audio watermarking technology

MUMBAI: With the test phase complete, the stage is set for the commercial deployment of Civolution’s audio watermarking technology as broadcasters place their orders with the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

Any channel that wishes to be rated in BARC’s audience measurement system would need to be watermarked. Civolution’s audio watermark is embedded in the TV’s sound track prior to broadcast. Upon airing, the content is then identified by Médiamétrie’s TV meter in real-time.

Partho“The broadcasters have already started placing orders for the watermarking embedding technology required at their playout centres. The deployment will take a few weeks. This is just the first step towards that,” BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta said.

Leading broadcasters like Star India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) have already tested the technology by deploying it for their channels.

Dasgupta stated that BARC has negotiated the rates with Civolution for deployment of audio watermarking technology on behalf of the broadcasters.

To enable deeper understanding of the watermark technology, BARC had recently conducted technical workshops countrywide for broadcast engineers from 18-12 March to help them understand the deployment of the technology at the broadcaster end.

The workshop was conducted by technical experts from BARC’s technical partners. The worshops were attended by more than 150 broadcast personnel.

“This technical workshop was successfully held at multiple locations in India. It gave a unique opportunity for the broadcasters to interact directly with the technology and service providers,” averred Dasgupta.

Watermarking technology inserts a mark into the programmes; it is inaudible to the human ear. This mark contains the identification of the channel which broadcasts the programme and the regular broadcast timestamps.

The meters installed in panelists’ homes can retrieve this information. This audio watermark is inaudible to viewers and is compatible with both digital and analogue broadcasting.

In addition to granular measurement of the content being watched, the technology also provides cross-platform audience measurement.

BARC, which has been set up with the specific purpose of designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s audience measurement system, had recently issued issued two requests for proposals (RFPs) for play-out monitoring and database systems and design, and quality control (QC) and analytics.

Dasgupta said that the response for the two RFPs has been very encouraging. Without divulging the names of vendors who have shown interest, he revealed that for play-out monitoring and database systems a lot global vendors from countries like US and Portugal have shown interest. In the case of quality control (QC) and analytics, on the other hand, many Indian vendors have thrown their hat into the ring.