Harmonic Upgrades ProStream To Quiet Loud TV Ads

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Harmonic has incorporated automated audio-level control technology into its ProStream line of video-processing solutions, aiming to help operators comply with forthcoming Federal Communications Commission regulations banning annoyingly loud TV ads.

The vendor's ProStream 1000 stream processor with ACE real-time transcoding has incorporated Level Magic, an automated volume-control technology licensed from German audio specialists Jünger Audio. The platform's new audio processing capabilities also include transcoding and downmix support for common audio codecs.

Harmonic plans to demo the ProStream 1000 with ACE at SCTE's Cable-Tec Expo Nov. 15-17 in Atlanta.

The FCC is drafting rules enforcing the U.S.'s Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which mandates that ads be no louder than the programs they surround. The agency is required to issue its CALM Act guidelines by Dec. 15; pay TV operators will then have a year to comply with the order. 

The Level Magic algorithm eliminates audio level variations within a channel during commercial breaks as well as across channels. According to Harmonic, by incorporating the audio-processing features directly into the encoder, operators can save rack space and the expense of a standalone solution for CALM compliance.

Other vendors that are pitching solutions targeting CALM include Arris, Dolby Laboratories, IneoQuest Technologies, Tektronix, Triveni Digital and Volicon.

The ProStream 1000's newly added audio transcoding capability provides downmixing to support legacy set-top boxes during transitions to HD, and provides "any-to-any" transcoding to codecs including HE-AAC, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, AAC and MPEG-1 Layer II formats.

In addition to the new audio features, the ProStream 1000 with ACE provides multicodec capability for SD/HD MPEG-2 to AVC and AVC to MPEG-2 transcoding as well as SD/HD MPEG-2 to MPEG-2 and AVC to AVC re-encoding. The system also provides HD-to-SD downconversion, and supports up to 20 HD or 60 SD transcoded channels per 1-rack-unit-high chassis.

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