RealTime IT News

FACTS in New Push for Digital TV

SYDNEY -- The Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations (FACTS) has created a Digital TV Strategy Group with participation from all free-to-air television broadcasters, in a combined move to drive the Australian uptake of digital TV.

The new group will manage a range of policy, technical and marketing issues, including developing a common Application Program Interface (API) for digital set-top boxes and integrated receivers, managing receiver compliance, data downloads and return/back channel management and coordination.

National broadcasters ABC and SBS have joined the three free to air commercial stations, the Seven, Nine and Ten Networks, in the project which is part of FACTS9 strategy to drive the industry's digital agenda, said FACTS chief executive officer Julie Flynn.

"There is more to digital TV than spectrum, and it's not as though we are sitting on our hands now that we have spectrum," said Flynn. "The Strategy Group consists of a steering group that has already had two or three meetings, and a business drivers group which will meet next week, to push the development of digital television."

"While all of the commercial stations and the national broadcasters have separate strategies for digital TV, there is strong support across the industry for progressing management issues including developing a common platform that will allow viewers to access these different services regardless of which set-top box or integrated television receiver they have purchased," said FACTS chairperson Judi Stack.

The Digital TV Strategy Group will be managed within FACTS, and the organisation has appointed a project manager to oversee it. As well as involving TV stations the group will liaise with digital equipment manufacturers to develop commonality in the technology delivered.

"Introduction of retailer equipment into the Australian market with a common API will be an important step towards delivering interactivity to viewers," said Stack.

"There is a Group consensus that one of the major tasks is to work towards adoption of Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) as a common API for Australia. In the meantime, the Group will monitor the development and adoption of MHP in Europe against criteria of capabilities, timing, and cost."

The point of MHP is the interactivity digital TV has touted as a feature.

"The DTV Strategy Group will work closely with manufacturers and retailers on a coordinated framework for the rollout of the next generation of receiving equipment," said Stack.

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