Metadata – structured data related to the programme asset are containing editorial and technical descriptions and forming the basis for (partially) automated production, contribution and distribution workflows.


Metadata is the prerequisite for cost-effective and (partially) automated work processes in the field of media production and media usage. In perspective, they allow the automated execution of tasks for content indexing (e.g. through recommendation systems), rights management as well as media production, distribution and contribution, also with the help of artificial intelligence.

For quality and cost reasons, a continuous flow of metadata from research through production to broadcasting, archive or secondary exploitation is desirable. Every interruption in the metadata flow requires manual reworking and collection of the necessary data, if these can still be captured at all.

In cooperation with ARD, IRT is investigating the practical feasibility of a uniform exchange of metadata. The topic of semantics, i.e. the meaning and relationships of metadata, also plays an important role here.

Semantics or the Relationship of Metadata

Due to different manufacturers and internal, non-standardized data structures, media workflows are often not interoperable. As a result, a lot of information is lost in the course of the production and distribution process and must be aggregated across systems with high personnel expenditure. The interconnection of the value chain and the structuring of the information should therefore be improved by not only generating unique metadata records but also capturing their significance.

Semantically networked metadata enable novel assistance systems for editors and journalists for intuitive semantic search and navigation. It also makes it possible to link the results from audio-visual analysis tools (speech-to-text etc.) with semantic text structuring solutions for the (partially) automated enrichment of metadata down to scene level (e.g. "In which scene does Angela Merkel shake hands with Vladimir Putin?").

End users also benefit from the semantic networking of metadata, e.g. through more intuitive search and navigation options in media libraries or apps. This also enables more efficient semantic recommendations in recommender systems based on user behavior.

In cooperation with broadcasters, IRT is testing fields of application for semantics with the aim of offering innovative media services and enabling savings in the various areas of the media value chain. In addition to technical aspects, economic, qualitative, structural, organizational, competitive and standard relevant aspects are also considered.

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Broadcast Metadata Exchange Format (BMF)

In order to enable a interoperable exchange of metadata, the standardization and harmonization of metadata is required. For this purpose, IRT has developed the Broadcast Metadata Exchange Format (BMF), taking into account the special requirements of ARD and ZDF.

BMF offers a comprehensive metadata vocabulary for television, radio and online. It thus supports cross-editorial, cross-media and cross-location cooperation and networking through the IT-supported exchange of metadata in a uniform format. As a lingua franca in metadata exchange, it increases the reusability of metadata implementations and increases the interoperability of metadata exchange between IT systems and various application scenarios.

The BMF modelling covers information requirements from many areas such as planning, production and dissemination. In close cooperation with ARD and ZDF working groups, various use cases have been carefully evaluated.

IRT consulting services for the implementation of BMF-compliant metadata exchange:

  • Advice on the application of the BMF class model and the implementation of a BMF-XML schema
  • Analysis of use cases and creation of requirements documents
  • Mapping of the information required for given use cases to the corresponding subsets of the BMF class model
  • Creating application-specific BMF-based XML subschemas
  • Creation of BMF-XML sample instances according to customer requirements or given use cases, derived from the BMF-XML schema
  • Checking BMF-XML instances for standard conformity
  • Maintenance and extension of the BMF class model according to the resulting requirements

Electronic Media Card

In the course of the IT-based production environment, the MAZ card in paper form has also become obsolete. Now the electronic media card simplifies the workflows for (external) data delivery in ingest, technical acceptance and transfer (e.g. media file transfer).

The electronic media card contains metadata about programs, items, single recorded material as well as collections of recorded material on a data carrier. It is stored together with the audio/video material and thus permits fast and efficient further processing of the data.

The media card was developed by IRT in close cooperation with the television companies of ARD and ZDF, where it is also used in many areas today. For this purpose, the relevant use cases and requirements from the operation were intensively analyzed. It is available as a BMF-based XML subschema.

Media File Transfer (MFT) 2.0

With the successful introduction of the media file transfer 2.0 of ARD (MFT 2.0) in 2018, accompanied by IRT, the file transfer could be fully integrated into the content management systems (CMS) of the television productions. This enabled the creation of new workflows in which the editors themselves are able to exchange media files with other broadcasters. New is the extensive exchange of accompanying metadata by means of the media card, supplemented by necessary delivery information. The structure of the metadata is defined as a subschema according to BMF and implemented in the CMS. Thus, extensive information on programmes, items, clips, raw materials, images, collections of audio-visualmaterial and much more can be exchanged between broadcasters without media breaks.

MFT 2.0 Input Tool

In addition to the fully integrated media exchange between the production CMS of the broadcasters, the MFT 2.0 can also be used manually via a control center of the transfer system manufacturer Tixel. The data required for the transfer and application are collected using an input tool developed by IRT and packaged in accordance with the BMF subschema for the MFT 2.0. The input tool guarantees the data quality required for further processing in the receiver's production CMS.


With weConnect, ARD radio will introduce a new exchange concept based on modern REST interfaces in 2019. Production, scheduling and editorial systems will be connected in-house as well as across broadcasting stations via a uniform interface. Within this network, individual editorial stories, consisting of conversations/interviews, live broadcasts, audio files, scripts, images or much more, can be planned or exchanged with each other. The metadata scope of a story is defined as an XML container according to SML (Story Markup Language: subschema of BMF).

In phase 1, IRT supports broadcasters in replacing the existing audio file transfer and the central line scheduling with weConnect. In phase 2, IRT supports the integration of the editorial systems into the communication process, whereby the full benefit of weConnect for the broadcasters becomes evident.

Metadata for Distribution

High-quality metadata is required for the provisioning and advertising of programmes and items on a wide variety of distribution platforms (linear, on-demand or download). With the "ARD Metadatenkranz", IRT in cooperation with the broadcasters developed a comprehensive data set, modelled as a subschema of BMF and defined as a uniform exchange format for distribution metadata in ARD. The conversion to this new format reduces the number of export interfaces required by broadcasters to a single interface. The implementation project for the supply of EPG data (Electronic Program Guide) for the linear program to the Play-Out-Center Potsdam and the supply of media library content to was started at the end of 2018.

Right to Information of Authors/Service Protection Beneficiaries (medas/author)

Since 1 March 2017, the Copyright Act has enshrined a right to information, according to which authors and beneficiaries are entitled to information on the essential use of their work. In order to meet this requirement, the individual broadcasters compile publication information and information on the participants for relevant productions and transmit them to a central information system (medas). For the exchange of data between the broadcasters and medas, a subschema of BMF is to be used, with IRT providing support in its introduction.

Your contact

Metadata & Accessibility

Susanne Rath
Division Manager

+49 89 32399-416

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