Saturday, November 04, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | New Zealand | FreeView Chose MHEG-5 Solution

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News received an interesting announcement from "Strategy & Technology Limited" (S&T), a United Kingdom specialist in interactive TV playout systems and "MHEG middleware". FreeView, the consortium of New Zealand FTA (free-to-air) digital broadcasters chose a complete end-to-end interactive TV solution from S & T following a successful trial.

As it turns out, this will be the first full-scale deployment of MHEG-5 technology outside the United Kingdom.

The order, for S&T’s 'TSBroadcaster' and 'TSPlayer' systems and an EPG application for the FreeView direct-to-home, DTH service, follows successful completion of a proof-of-concept trial hosted by TVNZ using sample MHEG-5 applications and set-top boxes (STB's).

The system will give all the FreeView digital broadcasters a fully redundant playout platform for interactive applications, as well as a FreeView EPG that will provide consistent appearance and behaviour on FreeView-certified receivers and set-top boxes.

Steve Browning, responsible for the TVNZ-hosted trial and newly- appointed General Manager of FreeView, said, “We have worked very closely with S&T and other suppliers to deliver a successful proof-of- concept that showed the capabilities of the MHEG-5 technology and the advantages of a consistent EPG. We believe this will offer significant benefits to broadcasters and consumers alike when the FreeView platform launches next year.”

Colin Prior, Director of International Sales at S&T added that MHEG-5 offers a flexible interactive solution as well as the significant advantage of low incremental cost in receiver devices that will ensure that the whole FreeView audience is able to receive interactive (iTV) applications.

FreeView plans to launch its DTH satellite service in 2007, followed later by a digital terrestrial TV platform (using the same MHEG-5 standard).

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia points out that S&T’s distributor in New Zealand, Magna Systems and Engineering will provide ongoing installation and support services as part of the overall contract.

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