Watermarks Added to Broadcast Audio?

Amid news that its watermark technology for DVD-Audio may have been compromised, Verance nonetheless announced last week the launch of its "ConfirMedia" watermarking service. The company says that ConfirMedia will monitor and report the airplay of encoded commercials, music, and programs broadcast by television, cable and radio stations in the 100 top US markets and on the national feeds of major broadcast and cable television networks in the US.

Verance's Bob Cerasoli explains that "by developing additional applications that are based on our standardized [DVD-Audio watermark] technologies, we will provide unequaled broadcast information services for the advertising, music and programming industries. Our intent is to become a global information service, providing critical feedback to these industries."

The company states that broadcast material is encoded with Verance's watermark, which can occur "anywhere along the production or distribution chain," and that the encoding process is software based, as well as MAC and PC compatible. Once the content is encoded, the content's identification data is uploaded and registered to ConfirMedia's National Data Center. Upon broadcast, Verance says, ConfirMedia monitoring stations detect the unique code embedded in the content and report it via a dedicated network to the company's data center. ConfirMedia subscribers can access airplay detection information and reports via secure website login the day following the actual broadcast. Verance adds that encoding software, the encoding process, and registration are free to the user.

Verance expects that, when the system is fully operational, in addition to monitoring all major television networks, it will monitor more than 2000 radio stations covering the 100 top US markets, reaching 86% of the US radio listening audience. At last week's NAB convention in Las Vegas, Verance announced that performing rights organization SESAC plans to fully integrate ConfirMedia's broadcast monitoring capabilities into its affiliate services and royalty distribution systems.