All German broadcasters to use EBU R 128 to harmonize audio levels

Germany's public and commercial TV broadcasters have unanimously agreed to use EBU Recommendation 128 to underpin a national move to harmonize the audio levels of their television output.

The broadcasters, including EBU Members ARD and ZDF, plan to begin broadcasting with newly harmonized loudness from 31 August, 2012. Thereafter, German viewers will no longer have to snatch for the remote to manage sudden lurches in volume between programmes, adverts and trailers, as well as discrepancies between channels.

EBU Director of Technology & Development Lieven Vermaele hoped the German adoption of EBU Recommendation 128 would stimulate a wider international appreciation of its benefits.

He said: "R 128 is gaining real traction in Europe, but what is significant about the German move is, as in the Netherlands, both the public and private broadcasters have agreed on its simultaneous, universal application. This is great news for German audiences, and should encourage national broadcasters in other countries to follow suit."

Chairman of the ARD / ZDF Production & Technology Commission, Heinz-Joachim Weber (WDR), applauded the foresightedness of the public-private collaboration, which had kept the viewers as its top priority.

"Together, for the first time, we have made technical progress towards solving a problem that viewers have been aware of for years. As we move forwards, unwelcome loudness imbalances will increasingly become a thing of the past."

EBU R 128 allows broadcasters to measure and adjust audio using loudness meters instead of peak meters only, which is the standard, albeit inadequate, practice.

Major variations in volume between channels, programmes and commercial blocks are among the top complaints from viewers in many countries.

2012 will be a key year for R 128 implementation; in France, broadcasters on the DTT platform will switch to the EBU Loudness Recommendation in three steps, starting from 1 January and reaching completion at the end of the year. In Switzerland the national channels will adopt R 128 from February 2012. Broadcasters in many other countries have expressed interest in the use of R 128 too and are currently working on education, equipment testing and implementation plans.

(Source: EBU )