Broadcasters and content owners will be able to run catch-up TV services on Freeview using the MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC) from next spring.
Already manufacturers of Freeview HD devices, including Humax and ADB, are running their own implementations that have allowed viewers to access content from the BBC iPlayer using a browser.
David Cutts, chairman of the DTG Interaction Channel Working Group, said that from next April the DTG would only approve set-top boxes and iDTVs compliant with the MHEG-IC specifications as set out in edition 6.2.1 of the D-Book. Speaking at a Mashup event on the future of multiscreen, Cutts said the Freeview implementation would be similar to that already seen on Freesat. “The details were originally released in May, but the information was swamped in all the talk about Canvas,” he explained.
Cutts expects that a significant proportion of Freeview HD products sold from 2011 onwards will reach this specification, which includes facilities to deliver encrypted streams to TVs and to allow flexible ‘playlist’ presentation of content and advertising.
However, in a statement released to Broadband TV News, Freeview said although the introduction of connected TVs and boxes with VOD features was exciting, the DTT platform would be concentrating its promotional activity on the recording functionality. “In the lead up to Christmas, Freeview will be focusing on raising awareness of the benefits of recording both standard and high definition programmes with Freeview+, and the value of having the functionality to record great TV programmes without a subscription.”
New Zealand is anticipated to introduce the MHEG-IC as early as January 2011.
Humax has already included the MHEG-IC in its Freeview HD receivers, but it was unable to include the MHEG streaming capability because the specification was not finalised in time for the products release, and a software update will be required. The manufacturer is also concentrating on its own Humax portal, supported by the ANT browser, and including both the BBC iPlayer and Sky Player services.