New Zealand Freeview launches with MHEG-5 Technology from S&T

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
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Strategy & Technology (S&T), specialists in interactive TV playout systems and MHEG-5 middleware, is pleased to confirm the successful launch of its EPG application on the new Freeview digital satellite service in New Zealand.

The free-to-air service – owned by a private joint venture company consisting of TVNZ, CanWest TVWorks, Maori Television Service, and Radio New Zealand – went live a few weeks ago. While launching with TV One, TV2, TV3, C4, Maori Television, Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert, more services will be added over time.

After an extensive period of what General Manager Steve Browning describes as “research, research, research and then a proof of concept”, the consortium opted for MHEG-5 as the middleware. “At the time we had to make the choice between MHEG-5 and MHP there were IPR issues with the latter. MHEG-5 is also proven with low receiver overheads, many applications, and many application developers,” he explains.

As well as S&T’s TSBroadcaster and TSPlayer playout systems, Freeview NZ has also deployed an EPG designed by the company. This provides both consistent appearance and behaviour on all receivers. Browning says, “This has enabled us to deploy an MHEG-5-based EPG and by doing so have a clear and consistently branded platform.” There are currently two certified set-top box suppliers in the market with more to come. All major appliance retailers stock the boxes and have a Freeview accreditation agreement that allows them to use the Freeview brand in their marketing.

Given the success of the satellite deployment Freeview now plans to implement the same solution on its terrestrial platform due for launch in early 2008.

Colin Prior, International Sales Director with S&T, says, “We are pleased to see such a successful launch following a complex project implementation. We are also very pleased to see the deployment of our MHEG-5 EPG application, which is both bandwidth-efficient and provides increased brand awareness for Freeview.”

On-going support will be provided by S&T’s local representative, Magna Systems & Engineering (NZ).