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Glossary of broadcasting terms

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Glossary of broadcasting terms

Below is a glossary of terms used in broadcasting.


In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In the UK, ABC Weekend TV, a former ITV broadcaster. In the US, American Broadcasting Company, a television and radio network originally spun-off from the NBC network in the 1940s.
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.
Listeners who contact the radio show regarding requests, contests or other interaction.
Analog-to-digital converter: A device to convert analog signals to digital.
The recorded copy of a broadcast.
AM drive time: The morning rush hour slot.
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.
The company that provides the industry accepted standard for radio audience measurement.
1.  Storage of master material under controlled conditions
2.  Long term storage of material on an offline storage medium.
3.  Archive copy is a master copy intended solely for storage and not to be used in distribution.
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 Conversion
Changing the original aspect ratio of a HD picture through downconversion to either 16:9 letterbox or 4:3 center cut (see Center Cut). Also general term for converting original 4:3 / 14:9 material into 16:9 by zooming in whilst maintaining the aspect ratio, typically to allow the seamless insertion of archive footage into modern 16:9 productions.
Asynchronous serial interface: A streaming data format which often carries an MPEG transport stream (MPEG-TS).
Aspect ratio
The ratio between the width and the height of the picture. In NTSC television sets, this is 4:3; in widescreen (ATSC) sets, 16:9. Sometimes it is printed decimally as 1.33:1 for 4:3 and 1.78:1 for 16:9.
A synonym for lower thirds, the graphics on the bottom part of a television screen. An on-screen overlaid graphic, usually giving the name of the speaker, reporter or place in frame. Name derived from Aston Broadcast Systems Ltd., an early manufacturer of character generator (CG) equipment.
Audio tape recorder: A method of recording sound by electromagnetic pulses on a sensitised plastic strip.
Advanced Television Systems Committee: A committee established by the FCC to decide the technical standards for digital broadcasting in the US.
Average Quarter Hour: A form of audience measurement used by Arbitron, 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. (e.g. Jerry Springer scored 1,600 in the 12+ age group in the spring 2005 figures. Rush Limbaugh scored 16,400 in the same report)


Typically a raw broadcast signal direct from a remote site that is devoid of program graphics or studio segments (see fronthaul)
The technique where the DJ announces the song title and/or artist of the song that has just played. Also known as "back announcing".
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. Frequently referred to as 'Hitting the Post' or 'Talking Up the Song' In the case where a piece of music or theme is intended to end at the end of a program, the start of that music is backtimed for its ending to match the end of the program. This music is usually started silently and faded up for the credits.
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.
British Broadcasting Corporation: The main public service broadcaster in the United Kingdom, founded as the British Broadcasting Company in 1922.
A production element, usually instrumental music or sound effect played in the background of a spoken commercial, promo or other announcement.
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. It works by overcoming magnetic hysteresis.
A short announcement to identify a sponsor at the beginning or end of a production element such as the news or traffic/weather reports.
Burnt-In Time Code: pronounced bit-see. A permanently visible (as opposed to VITC clock counter superimposed over the video pictures, typically showing duration in hours, minutes, seconds and frames.
Black To Air
The Arbitron rating period.
An animation or logotype briefly shown after the end of a program or part of a program before the advertising. See also "optical".
An animation shown during the middle of a commercial break to provide relevant graphic information accompanied by backing music, usually only taking up no more than two minutes. On news channels, breakfiller content usually includes news excerpts, weather, stock market indices, current time(s) and/or schedules.
breaking news
Interruptions of regular or planned programming for recently-occurring events as reported by a news organization or agency.
Video used to illustrate a story.
A DOG (Digital on-screen graphic) permanent on-screen logo. Usually located in the corner of the screen. So-called because it looks like an insect is hanging out in the corner of the screen.
An element that acts as a transition to or from commercial breaks
bumper music
A pre-recorded production element containing voice-over and/or music that acts as a transition to or from commercial breaks.


call letters
The official name of the radio station in the USA. Also known as a station's callsign.
Slang for headphones.
Columbia Broadcasting System, an American television and radio network.
closed captioning
Text version of a program's dialogue, overlaid on the screen by an equipped television set for the hearing impaired.
An excessive number of non-program elements (such as commercials) appearing one after another.
Written material to be read by a DJ or presenter.
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