IBC 2009 – Amsterdam. The Australian Freeview DTT platform is to use a version of the MHEG-5 middleware that is close to the specification being adopted by its UK counterpart for the launch of HD services later this year. The so-called interaction channel will make it possible for both Freeview and Freesat to deliver catch-up TV services including the BBC iPlayer.
“The Australian profile of MHEG-5 is ostensibly Freeview HD, including all the interaction channel support, so all the receivers that go into Australia from next year will have MHEG and the online capacity,” explained Colin Prior, director of international sales at UK-based MHEG developer Strategy & Technology (S&T). He added that it was likely that Freesat would enter the market first, but the Australian decision and recent trials proved it was up and running.
A revision of MHEG-5 will go to ETSI that incorporates the interaction channel and other new elements that are a part of the D Book 6.1.
S&T co-founder David Cutts, said the interaction channel was essentially already in the Freesat boxes and in the DVB-T2 receivers that will be used for reception of Freeview HD on the UK terrestrial system. “Although the software is all running and integrated in the box, it has not yet been deployed with a mass over the air download because we are still finishing off the Freesat software. With T2 it will be deployed with the software already in the box.”
The new specification also provides the ability to run over the top video and navigate around content databases. The middleware and the interaction channel will be on display on the S&T stand (1.A21) at IBC 2009.
A number of other countries have also expressed an interest in MHEG following the Australian decision.