Freeview Australia selects MHEG-5 as its middleware

Monday, July 20th, 2009
Freeview Australia logo

LONDON, UK — IMPALA, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance, is pleased to announce Freeview Australia’s selection of MHEG-5 as the interactive TV middleware for the suite of free-to-air DTT channels that operate under the brand. Receiver specifications including the MHEG profile for Australia have now been released by Freeview Australia and are available under NDA.

Using a phased launch and first appearing in 2009, Freeview is the brand name for the collection of Australia’s free-to-view digital television networks. Freeview Australia is not one channel or service, rather a suite of channels and represents “Australians’ right to watch quality television, for free”.

Freeview Australia is owned by ABC, SBS, Seven, Nine, Ten, Prime, Southern Cross and WIN. It is similar to the successful Freeview operations in the UK and New Zealand with Freeview-endorsed product conforming to published standards on sale through retail chains.

The launch of Freeview phase two in 2010 will see the deployment of an MHEG-5-based platform EPG that will provide listings information on all Freeview channels regardless of the channel being watched. The platform EPG will also allow channel and Freeview branding onscreen.

Giri Valliappan, Director of Market Development, IMPALA, says, “Freeview Australia undertook a comprehensive review process before selecting MHEG5. They wanted an open standard middleware but also wanted maximum manufacturer support. This was forthcoming from all the major CE vendors for MHEG – strengthened by the fact that all the major CE manufacturers would be able to supply product to meet Freeview’s launch dates – and means another successful adoption for MHEG-5 technology.”

IMPALA founder members S&T and Cabot Communications, working alongside a major CE manufacturer, prepared the country-specific profile for Australia, referencing the UK DTG DBook 6 for the majority of the specification, adding Australia-specific PVR extensions. The receiver specification and MHEG profile both include support for high definition and the IP-based Interaction Channel.

Robin Parkes, CEO of Freeview Australia, says, “We looked closely at both Freeview in the UK and Freeview NZ and were impressed by the success they had achieved. With the addition of high definition graphics and interactive channels, MHEG-5 provides the best route for enhanced services for Freeview in Australia.”