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A state-of-the-art progressive source encoder is combined with a concatenated block coding mechanism to produce a robust source transmission system for embedded bit streams. The proposed scheme efficiently trades off the available total bit budget between information bits and parity bits through efficient information block size adjustment, concatenated block coding, and random block interleavers. The objective is to create embedded codewords such that, for a particular information block, the necessary protection is obtained via multiple channel encodings, contrary to the conventional methods that use a single code rate per information block. This way, a more flexible protection scheme is obtained. The information block size and concatenated coding rates are judiciously chosen to maximize system performance, subject to a total bit budget. The set of codes is usually created by puncturing a low-rate mother code so that a single encoder-decoder pair is used. The proposed scheme is shown to effectively enlarge this code set by providing more protection levels than is possible using the code rate set directly. At the expense of complexity, average system performance is shown to be significantly better than that of several known comparison systems, particularly at higher channel bit error rates.