Intellect launches UK trial HbbTV spec

Technology trade body Intellect has released a specification that would enable the deployment of HbbTV over the UK terrestrial system and made a test stream available.

Less than a week after the launch of the hybrid platform YouView, backed by the four major terrestrial broadcasters including the BBC and ITV plus two ISPs, Intellect says it wants a hybrid television system that would work alongside the UK’s Freeview platform.

There has long been disquiet among the manufacturers – many of whom run their own connected TV platforms – over the island mentality of the UK broadcasters. They argue that a European-wide platform is required to enable scale. Already many TV sets sold in Europe feature the MHEG-5 middleware used by the UK terrestrials, arguably because it is cheaper to leave it in than remove it, now it looks as if the same will happen in reverse with HbbTV appearing in UK sets.

Intellect wants to open up a discussion with broadcasters and plans to run a roadshow that demonstrates how HbbTV is already being used.

YouView will shortly release the Humax manufactured DTT PVR, and while there is talk of an integrated digital television (IDTV), this would come only after a stripped down DTT set-top.

Intellect, whose membership includes Astra, BT, Pace, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony, wants the UK to reflect the development of HbbTV in countries including France, Italy and Germany.

“Moving towards TV without borders also gives huge scale advantages to UK content-makers and technology companies, in short the UK’s vital creative industries. Today is part of a discussion with UK stakeholders about how the UK can be a leading part of the European television market again,” said Intellect director William Higham. “There will soon be millions of devices in the UK’s home that could activate their HbbTV capability, broadcasters across Europe such as the major French and German ones who could use it, and a huge reciprocal opportunity for the UK.”

The latest revision to the Digital TV Group’s D Book 7 includes a section on connected TV that has been interpreted as a move towards HbbTV.

However, by making their feelings known through Intellect it is clear that the manufacturers do not believe the DTG has gone far enough.