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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