Future Media Standards & Guidelines

How to Retrieve and Repurpose Existing EBU-STL Subtitles Files for A/V Content

1. Purpose

This document explains how to retrieve and reuse EBU-STL broadcast subtitles files for off-schedule and archived A/V content as well as marketing trails, if subtitles exist for that content, where:

  • off-schedule means a segment of a clip captured from a long-form programme, or an item of A/V content not previously broadcast on linear television; and
  • archive means a long-form programme previously broadcast on linear television.

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2. Retrieving subtitles for off-schedule and archived A/V content

If you want to retrieve existing subtitles, first check that subtitles exist for the particular programme using the internal BBC tape library system, Infax.

If subtitles do exist, you will need to make a note of:

  1. The spool number in order to retrieve the master tape from Information and Archives; and
  2. The programme number in order to retrieve the EBU-STL subtitles file from Red Bee Media.

Consider using the Telestream Pipeline hardware to control the video tape recorder (VTR) so that you can capture a clip from a specific time-code using the master tape (for example, 10:00:00:00) prior to transcoding it (for example, using Flip Factory) for the EMP.

You must complete the subtitling log to confirm the time code for each video clip captured from the master tape that already includes EBU-STL subtitles files; that is, time-code IN: 10:00:01:05; time-code OUT: 10:00:04:00.

To retrieve the EBU-STL file, you need to complete the Retrieve EBU-STL subtitle file form and submit it to Red Bee Media to confirm programme information details. Required information includes the transmission date, transmission time, spool number and programme number.

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3. Naming instructions for broadcast subtitles files

Use the following naming structure for broadcast subtitles files:


For example:


Where ProgNo includes 8 obligatory letters and numbers, and YY represents the programme version which includes 2 obligatory numbers.

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4. Delivery of EBU-STL subtitles files for conversion to timed-text format

Email the EBU-STL subtitles files to Andrew Strachan in the Usability and Accessibility Team in Central UX&DUX&D in conjunction with the subtitling log to confirm the time code for each video clip captured from the master tape, as well as the list of subtitles delivered to the BBC.

You need to include the following details in the subtitling log:

  • The name of the department and contact that commissioned the subtitling;
  • The name of the subtitling provider;
  • The file name for each subtitle;
  • The time-code confirming when the clip was captured from the master tape; and
  • The date the subtitles file were delivered to the BBC.

Alternatively, you can deliver subtitles for conversion using FTP, and the resulting timed-text output file can be dynamically delivered to the site. However, this is only applicable if the subtitles need to be converted from 10:00:00:00.

If you do wish to deliver your subtitles files using FTP, contact Andrew Strachan in the Usability and Accessibility Team in Central UX&D.

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