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This paper proposes a novel image quality metric for colour codecs and a novel colour test image. The degree of colour error (bleeding) due to image compression is evaluated with a special colour test image designed to emphasise colour artefacts. The known reference approach, which is used in this research, offers swift and accurate measurements. The proposed test image replaces the full field static colour bar test signal used in analogue television and video engineering. The proposed test image can be used to evaluate the performance of digital video and television broadcasting facilities. The objective quality measure can also be used in the codec development process and in benchmarking codec performance. The efficacy of the new metric and test image is assessed using a JPEG codec at a range of compression levels.