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Broadcasting terminology

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With every new technology a number of terms and slang words develop to assist in the rapid communication of ideas between the users of the technology.

Below is a glossary of terms used in broadcasting.

A [ top ]

ABC In the US, American Broadcasting Company, a television and radio network originally created out of NBC. In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In the UK, ABC Weekend TV, a former ITV broadcaster.

A/D Analog-to-digital conversion.

Absolute Event A scheduled event whose start time is determined with an assigned time based upon the facility master clock.

Access Time The total time required to find, retrieve and commence using information, also known as Lead Time.

Actives Listeners who contact the radio show regarding requests, contests or other interaction.

ADC - Analog to Digital Converter A device to convert analog signals to digital.

Aircheck The recorded copy of a broadcast. This can be a digital or analog recording.

Analog Recording Recording of audio using an electronic signal that varies continuously. The main drawback of analog recording is the introduction of inherent noise to the recorded signal.

Analog Transmission The broadcasting of a signal using an analog recording. Examples of use include radio.

Arbitron The company that provides the Industry accepted standard for audience measurement.

Archive An archive is a term for storage a can refer to the following: * Storage of master material under controlled conditions * Long term storage of material on an offline storage medium. * Archive Copy is a master copy intended solely for storage and not to be used in distribution.

Artifacts Noticeable loss of video and/or audio fidelity in a broadcast or recording caused by limitations in the technology used. Usually reflects undesirable distortion(s) of the original when digitized. Aspect ratio The ratio between the width and the height of the picture. In 'traditional' television sets, this is 4:3; in widescreen sets, 16:9. Sometimes printed decimally as 1.33:1 for 4:3 and 1.78:1 for 16:9.

Aston An on-screen overlayed graphic, usually giving the name of the speaker or reporter in vision.

ATR - Audio Tape Recorder A method of recording sound by electromagnetic pulses on a sensitised plastic strip.

ATSC - Advanced Television Systems Committee A committee established by the FCC to decide the technical standards for digital broadcasting in the US.

Average Quarter Hour The term used in audience measurement by Arbitron. It is defined as the number of persons listening to a particular station for at least five minutes during a quarter hour. Typical audience measurements may be in the order of ten thousand for the larger shows. (eg Jerry Springer scored 1,600 in the 12+ age group in the spring 2005 figures. Rush Limbaugh scored 16,400 in the same report)

B [ top ]

Backsell The technique where the DJ announces the song title and/or artist of the song that has just played. Also known as "back announcing".

Backtiming Where the DJ calculates the intro time on the song in an attempt to talk over the intro of the song and finish just prior to the vocals commencing.

Bandwidth The available space between two given points on the electromagnetic spectrum and, inter alia, the amount of information that can be squeezed into that space.

BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation The main public service broadcaster in the United Kingdom, founded as the British Broadcasting Company in 1922.

Bed A production element, usually instrumental music or sound effect played in the background of a spoken commercial, promo or other announcement.

Bel A measure of voltage, current or power gain. One Bel is defined as a tenfold increase in power. If an amplifier increases a signal's power by a factor of 10, its power gain is 1 Bel or 10 decibels (dB). If power is increased by 100 times, the power gain is 2 Bels or 20 decibels. 3dB is considered doubling.

Bias A constant amplitude high frequency signal added to the recording signal to improve the signal to noise ratio and reduce the distortion of an analog tape recording.

Billboard A short announcement to identify a sponsor at the beginning or end of a production element such as the news or traffic/weather reports.

Book A slang term for the Arbitron rating period.

Breakbumper An animation or logotype briefly shown after the end of a programme or part of a programme before the advertising. See also "optical".

Bug Slang term for a DOG (Digitally Originated Graphic) permanent on screen logo.

Bumper or Bumper Music A pre-recorded production element containing voice over music that acts as a transition to or from a stop set and other content.

C [ top ]

Call Letters The official name of the radio station in the USA. Also known as a station's callsign.

Cans Slang for headphones.

CBS Columbia Broadcasting System, an American television and radio network.

CCIR - Comité consultatif international pour la radio In English, "International Radio Consultative Committee", the organisation responsible for assigning frequencies to radio stations between 1927 and 1992. Now known as ITU-R.

Closed Captioning Text version of a programme's dialogue, overlayed on the screen by an equipped television set for the hearing impaired.

Clutter An excessive number of non-programme elements (such as commercials) appearing one after another.

Copy The written material used in producing a PSA, promo, or commercial that is meant to be read out by the DJ or presenter.

Crash When an announcement, jingle or graphic overlaps with a fixed point in the schedule (eg the news or a time signal), usually due to poor timing.

Crossfade The technique where a DJ, producer or engineer fades out the out going track at the same time as fading in the new track.

Coverage percentage of households that can tune into a radio station within the theoretical broadcast radius.

Cueing Whilst the previous record was playing the DJ would attempt to find the beginning of the song on the next record. The DJ would place the needle down in approximately the right area then move the record back and forth Cueing on the turntable until the beginning of the song was found. When the previous song completed playing the DJ would introduce the next song and turn the record deck on and the record would quickly whirl up to speed with a characteristic distortion. This was later minimised by the use of a slip mat.

Cue Burn Cue burn relates to the days of vinyl records (33rpm , 45rpm). Whilst the previous record was playing the DJ would attempt to find the beginning of the song on the next record. The DJ would place the needle down in approximately the right area then move the record back and forth Cueing on the turntable until the beginning of the song was found. This cueing back and forth would rub the vinyl and damage the records creating a characteristic noise.

Cue dot A small square inserted in the corner of the picture to inform rebroadcasters that an advertisement break is about to happen. In the UK, this appeared exactly one minute before the break and disappeared 55 seconds later.

Cume Short for cumulative audience. A similar term of measurement to a newspaper or magazines' circulation figures.

D [ top ]

DAB - Digital Audio Broadcasting The use of digital encoding to send higher quality or a greater number of radio services to equipped receivers.

DAC - Digital to Analog Converter Equipment that changes digital signals into pictures or sound.

Daypart The radio station's broadcast day is normally split up (starting at 6am) into a series of 4 hour sessions containing one or more shows.

DB or Decibel One tenth of a bel. See also Bel.

DBS - Direct Broadcasting (by) Satellite Television and radio programmes distributed by satellite for reception via a dish at the receiver's property.

Dead air The time on-air where there is no audible transmission. This silence can be down to any of the following: * DJ, Producer or Engineer error * Equipment error or failure * Act of God * Deliberate silence for remembrance.

DJ - Disc Jockey A radio presenter who links records.

DOG - Digitally Originated Graphic A station logo or slogan permanently displayed on screen during a programme. Controversial due to "screenburn" issues.

Dolby Digital Also Dolby D. The standard for 5.1 channel (surround sound) audio. Six discrete channels are used (Left, Center, Right, Left Rear Surround, Right Rear Surround, and Subwoofer).

Double pumping Putting out two episodes of a show back-to-back, either to boost ratings in a given slot or to burn off episodes of a cancelled show.

Drive time Drive time refers to the period of time where the majority of radio listeners travel to work. This is traditionally 6-10am and 2-6pm and is normally accompanied by the stations highest listenership. Commercials are normally more expensive during such times.

Drop The Light Drop the Light is very common industry-wide term meaning 'Lower the Light Levels'. This is often yelled while shooting when the director wants to continue shooting the action of the scene after the light levels are lowered. It has nothing to do with any physical dropping of a lighting fixture during the scene.

Drops These are excerpts of TV, movies and other audio programmes that are used to accentuate programming.

Drop Song Temporary unselecting a playlist song to better accommodate an accurate clock hour. DTH - Direct To Home Television and radio programmes distributed by satellite for reception via a dish at the receiver's property.

DVB - Digital Video Broadcasting The MPEG-2 based standard of digital transmission and reception. Comes in variants according to the type of broadcast, eg DVB-T for terrestrial.

E [ top ]

Encryption The scrambling of a signal to allow reception via a decoder only be specific viewers, eg after the payment of a fee.

F [ top ]

Feedback The noise produced when the amplified sound from an output (eg loudspeaker) is picked up by the input (eg microphone) feeding that speaker.

FCC - Federal Communications Commission The regulator of broadcasting in the United States.

Format Clock A format clock is a diagram produced by a programme director or a producer to illustrate where each programming element appears in a typical hour.

FPS - Frames per second The number of times the television is refreshed in a second of time. As a rule of thumb, this is the same as the local Alternating Current electricity supply - 60 Hz or 50 Hz.

Front sell The act of introducing a song about to be played.

G [ top ]

Gain Volume

GHz - Gigahertz Thousand million cycles per second. The measurement for satellite frequencies.

H [ top ]

Hammocking Placing a new or poorly-performing programme between two established popular programmes in order to boost viewing figures.

HDTV - High Definition Television In modern terms, broadcasting using a line standard of greater than 1000. Prior to World War II, "high definition" was used to mean a line standard greater than 240 lines.

Hit The Post Where a DJ continues to talk right up to the point where the vocals commence.

I [ top ]

Ident A station's symbol or logo, often accompanied by music, a jingle or an animation.

Image Liner A short audio clip played frequently on a radio station between songs and ads to identify the station that is being aired. I.E the stations call letters or positioning statement.

ITU - International Telecommunications Union Originally the International Telegraph Union, the ITU is the international organization established in 1865 to standardize and regulate international radio and telecommunications.

iTV - interactive television Systems that allow viewers to interact (eg play games, shop for related items or find further information) either two-way, via a telephone line, or one-way, via MHEG graphics.

ITV - Independent Television The UK's first commercial television network.

J [ top ]

Jingle A produced programming element usually in the form of vocals to accompanying music often produced in-house to identify the show, DJ or the station.

K [ top ]

kHz - Kilohertz Thousand cycles per second. kHz is used to measure mediumwave and often shortwave frequencies.

L [ top ]

Letterbox The appearance of black bars at the top and bottom of a picture when 16:9 or 14:9 widescreen material is shown on 4:3 sets. See also pillar box and postage stamp.

Liner A piece of written text that the DJ says over the intro of a song or between spots and songs. Liners are designed to invoke the imagination.

Line standard The number of lines broadcast to make up a television picture. Generally, 525 in NTSC areas and 625 elsewhere.

Live Any programming which is broadcast immediately as it is being delivered (a live report); performed (a live concert or show); or captured (live news or sports coverage). Requires an unbroken communications chain without any intervening recording or storage technology. Considered the most exciting form of broadcasting, delivered “as it happens”.

Live-on-tape A pre-recorded program produced in real time, usually with a studio audience, for later broadcast. Requires precisely timed pauses for insertion of station breaks and commercials at time of broadcast. Typically employed for network broadcast across multiple time zones. Also applies to live broadcasting which is simultaneously recorded for rebroadcast at a later time or date.

Log A written record of broadcasting. There are typically three logs: * A Music Log recording what songs where played. * An Engineer's Log detailing technical production settings. * A Commercial Log recording which commercials were played during the day. See also PASB.

M [ top ]

Macrovision A trademarked system designed to prevent unauthorised copying of video material.

MHz Million cycles per second. The bandwidth area for FM broadcasts and television.

Miscue A mistake by the DJ or production engineer resulting in two audio elements being played at the same time, eg an interview and the next song.

N [ top ]

NBC - National Broadcasting Company A television network in the United States. Formerly also a radio network.

Network A system which distributes programming to multiple stations simultaneously, or slightly delayed, for the purpose of extending total broadcast coverage beyond the limits of a single radio or television signal.

Nielsen Ratings Survey of US viewers by the AC Nielsen Company to establish the audiences for individual programmes and their demographics.

NTSC - National Television Standards Committee An American committiee formed to set the line standard and later color standard for broadcasting. Gave its name to the method of color reproduction used in the Americas (except Brazil) and in Japan.

O [ top ]

Ofcom - Office of Communications The regulator of broadcasting in the United Kingdom.

Optical Generically, any on-screen graphic. Specifically, a graphic inserted between a programme and an advertisement or between individual advertisements.

OOV - Out Of Vision A stage instruction noting that a character is not seen when speaking. Also, in continuity announcing, the practice of speaking over a caption rather than appearing on screen.

P [ top ]

PASB - Programme As Broadcast A BBC term for a (supposedly contemporaneous) log of a channel's output.

Pay-per-view Reception of a scrambled film or sporting event after the payment of a one-off fee for that broadcast.

PIF - Public Information Film A government-produced commercial, usually shown for free, giving safety information or advice.

Pillarbox The appearance of blank bars on either side of the picture when 4:3 material is shown on a 16:9 widescreen television set.

Pilot A one-off episode of a proposed series, usually in extended form, to gauge audience reaction. If successful, the rest of the series is made and the pilot becomes the first episode.

Pips Slang term for the time signal broadcast by some radio stations at the top of the hour.

Playlist The official songs that a radio station will play during a given week. The playlist is not usually chosen by the DJ.

Positioning statement A radio station's mission statement or vision statement. A one to two sentence statement that conveys what you do for whom, to uniquely solve an urgent need. These are usually aired during Image Liners.

Postage stamp The appearance of a black border all around the picture, usually in error, when 4:3 material is converted to 16:9 and then back to 4:3 before broadcast.

Pot - Potentiometer A round knob control for increasing or decreasing the volume on a channel.

Production Element A Production Element is a piece of audio that is used in the final audio mix. This may include commercials, music, sound effects, audio effects (eg echo) station id or program signatures or announcements.

Producer The person who performs or manages the day to day business operations of a station. Also the person responsible for an individual program - a radio producer or a television producer.

Promo An announcement (either recorded or live) used to promote the station's image or other event.

PSA - Public Service Announcement A commercial, usually shown for free, giving safety information or advice.

Q [ top ]

Quadraphonic Sound reproduction utilising four speakers. Now superseded by Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound.

R [ top ]

Ramp  An intro to a piece of music.

S [ top ]

SB - Simultaneous Broadcasting British term for the broadcast of the same programme from multiple transmitters.

Screenburn Where a permanent mark is burnt into the mask of the TV screen due to prolonged display. Common with sets tuned to one channel for promotional purposes or on ordinary sets from DOGs inserted by broadcasters. Also known as Phosphor burn-in.

Sirius Satellite Radio American satellite radio platform.

Slipmat A slipmat was a mat that was placed on a record deck between the deck and the record. Normally made by the DJ, it was cut significantly oversized when compared to a vinyl record. The DJ would cue the record to the beginning of a song and then holding onto the mat would turn the turntable on whilst the record stayed at the beginning of the song. The DK could then introduce the record and then release the mat onto the already spinning deck thus reducing the spin up speed to 33 or 45 rpm. The effect was to reduce the whirl effect produced by the turning on of the turntable.

Soundbite A small portion (usually one or two sentences) of an audio recording (often an interview) used to illustrate a news story in the words of the interviewee (c.f. a quotation from a politician).

Sponsorship In the United States, the practice of a company funding the making of a program in order to entertain an audience and sell a product. In the UK, an advertisement inserted between the end-of-part caption and the breakbumper.

Spot A radio or television commercial.

Spot advertising A commercial or commercials run in the middle of or between programmes, sold separately from the programme (as opposed to sponsors' messages).

Stop set The place where commercials are played during a typical broadcast hour. There may be several scattered throughout a typical 60 minute period. Stop set length can vary much between local stations and even network programming.

Subtitles Text version of a programme's dialogue, overlayed on the screen either at broadcast or at reception (often via Teletext or Closed Captioning) for the hearing impared or for when a speaker is unclear or speaking in a foreign language.

Sweeps A period, usually in February, May, July and November, where the A C Neilson Company undertakes to record the ratings of all shows in all markets with all demographics. This allows networks and local stations to spot surprise hits and unexpected failures. It is also a time when a successful network will try pilot episodes of new shows, whilst a failing network will often put existing successful programs in place of poorly performing shows to boost average ratings.

T [ top ]

Teaser A part of a program played before the title sequence, usually featuring a cliffhanger or prefiguring the plot of the episode to follow.

Teletext Electronic information inserted into the unused parts of a television signal and decodable by an equipped television set.

Television The transmission of pictures and sound by radio frequency or cable for public reception.

Transponder A physical part of a satellite that broadcasts the signal. In colloquial use, the satellite equivalent of the "channel" a television station is broadcast on (eg "broadcasting from Transponder 2C of the satellite").

U [ top ]

UHF - Ultra High Frequency Frequencies between 300 MHz (wavelength 1 meter) and 3.0 GHz (wavelength 10 centimetres), used for television broadcasting.

V [ top ]

VBI - Vertical Blanking Interval The blank area out of sight at the top and bottom of a television picture that allows the raster gun to reset. The space created is often used for Teletext and other services.

VHF - Very High Frequency Frequencies from 30 MHz (wavelength 10 m) to 300 MHz (wavelength 1 m), used for radio and television broadcasting.

VJ - Video Jockey A term invented by MTV as the television version of a Disc Jockey.

VTR - Video Tape Recorder A method of recording television pictures by electromagnetic pulses on a sensitised plastic strip.

W [ top ]

WARC - World Administrative Radio Conference The regular meetings of the CCIR (now ITU-R) to allocate radio frequency spectrum.

Wendy  A large carpeted wedge used to display items for shooting.

X [ top ]

XM Satellite Radio An American satellite radio platform.

Y [ top ]

Y Luminance in many color models used for television broadcast, such as YIQ and YUV.

Z [ top ]

Zoom To go from a long shot to a close-up (or vice versa) with the camera. In the UK, the name given by Associated TeleVision to their idents.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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