Freeview NZ Adopts MHEG Interaction Channel For Hybrid Services

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 
Freeview NZ logo

LONDON, UK — IMPALA, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance, is pleased to announce that Freeview NZ – established by New Zealand’s leading broadcasters including TVNZ, TVWorks (owners of TV3 and C4), Maori Television Service, and Radio New Zealand – has adopted the MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC) from the D-book 6.1 as part of an upgrade to its MHEG Country Profile that will allow hybrid services to be provided.

Freeview NZ – which has been operating as a platform since early 2007 and has used MHEG since launch on both its satellite (DVB- S1, MPEG-2, SD) and digital terrestrial services (DVB-T, MPEG-4, SD/HD) – says that the MHEG-IC is the key reason it is upgrading its profile.

Tim Diprose, Technology Manager with Freeview NZ, says, “We believe hybrid IP and broadcast TV technology is the future and is also relevant right now. To have high bandwidth HD mainstream shows broadcast via DTT and niche, catch-up and other on-demand content delivered over IP really makes sense. The New Zealand government has announced plans to roll out ultra-fast broadband to 75 per cent of New Zealanders and this will further support these hybrid platforms and applications.”

The concept of the MHEG-IC and the streaming media extensions are to provide a seamless viewer experience of broadcast delivered content augmented with additional on-demand content delivered over IP. The IP content appears as an extension of the channel or network and broadcasters have full editorial control of the user experience. The MHEG-IC gives access to streamed on-demand video content in addition to traditional text and graphics as well as the ability to support secure transactions.

According to Diprose, a number of receiver manufacturers are keen to implement this new technology this year, with it becoming mandatory for all Freeview approved TVs and DTRs for 2011. The timescale for the launch of any OTT catch-up video service is down to the broadcasters on the platform. The enhanced Freeview New Zealand receiver specification shares the same MHEG-IC and streaming media requirements as Freeview Australia, assisting receiver manufacturers by creating a larger market with a common specification.

Diprose says, “By deploying the MHEG-IC we enable a more diverse range of viewing options available on the platform and therefore encourage more consumer uptake. It could enable viewers to easily and comfortably catch up on shows they’ve missed, watching on-demand on their TV in the lounge (not from their PC) retaining show/series loyalty and viewership, providing broadcasters with new revenue opportunities.”

Giri Valliappan, Director of Market Development with IMPALA, says, “The MHEG Interaction Channel is a tremendous advance for broadcasters around the world, providing a clear, public standards-based move into the world of hybrid IP broadcast delivery. With the BBC’s iPlayer on Freesat beta release using MHEG-IC growing in reach, the technology is set for a bright future.

The founder members of IMPALA are Strategy & Technology (S&T), Cabot Communications and Echostar Europe.