A consortium including Canal+, France Televisions, and TF1, German research organisation Institut für Rundfunktechnik, satellite operator SES Astra, as well as the software and media solutions providers ANT and OpenTV, have announced the launch of a new pan-European initiative aimed at harmonising the delivery of broadcast and broadband content.
In a statement, Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) said the “specification was developed by industry leaders to effectively manage the rapidly increasing amount of available content targeted at today’s end consumer.” It is based on elements of existing standards and web technologies including OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CEA, DVB and W3C.
The statement makes no mention of the controversial BBC Canvas proposals, which are also aimed at providing a seamless consumer interface between broadcast and broadband content in a managed environment. A spokesman for the Canvas partners said the project was “complimentary” to that of the consortium and described the move as “fundamentally different in technical scope”, but “could be an important precursor to adoption of a common European canvas IPTV standard” – if approved by the BBC Trust.
HbbTV has so far slipped under the radar, the first satellite demonstrations from the consortium being seen at IFA and IBC 2008. With support also from consumer electronics manufacturers Humax, Kaon and Philips the intention is to deliver interactive advertising, personalisation, voting, games and social networking as well as programme-related services such as digital text and EPGs.
“HbbTV will build on the success of the existing SD teletext service which is used by more than 14 million consumers each day in Germany by providing a high quality video text service more suited to HD receivers. It will deliver an open platform for broadcasters, manufacturers and service providers to deliver value added on-demand services to consumers of digital content,” said Dr. Klaus Illgner-Fehns, MD, Institut für Rundfunktechnik.
He added the Hbb concept brought considerable benefits to consumers who currently faced challenges from the integration of broadband technology with linear transissions.
Public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have already committed their support to the project – the HbbTV specifications are also a part of the HD+ teletext service – and can be seen at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin next week (Hall 2.2/101).
There will also be a further opportunity on the EBU stand at IBC 2009 (stand 10.D21).