New Version of MHEG Interactive TV Middleware Submitted to ETSI

--Includes Support for IP-Based Interaction Channel, HD Graphics, and More

The International MHEG Promotion Alliance (IMPALA), an organization that was set up in 2006 by Strategy & Technology, Cabot Communications and EchoStar Europe to promote use of the MHEG-5 standard outside the UK (note: MHEG-5 is the middleware standard upon which the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial service, Freeview, is based; it was developed and standardized in the mid-90's as part of the DAVIC standardization effort to support interactivity and navigation for VOD services), announced Monday that the latest version of its open standard interactive TV middleware has now been submitted to ETSI for approval. According to the organization, Version 2.0 of ETSI 202 184 (the software's official designation) contains a number of "very significant" updates to the original ETSI MHEG specification from 2004, including support for HD graphics with increased color depth and screen resolutions, as well as the IP-based Interaction Channel (enables hybrid broadcast broadband receiver operation via an IP connection).

The goals of the MHEG-IC are to provide a "seamless" viewer experience of broadcast-delivered content, augmented with content delivered over IP as an extension of the broadcast channel or network. According to IMPALA, Version 2.0 includes support for PVR extensions, enabling an EPG to be delivered effectively and efficiently as an MHEG application. It also includes support for an extended font repertoire, IMPALA says, ensuring that most languages that use the Latin alphabet can be supported.

IMPALA says that the ETSI Work Group, which was established in October, 2008, used the MHEG sections of D-Book 6 as the basis for its work. D-Book 6 (which is now actually in version 6.1) was published by the UK's Digital Television Group, which bills itself as an independent, platform-neutral and technology-agnostic industry association for digital TV in the UK, in early 2009. "The submission of MHEG 2.0 to ETSI is a significant milestone for the world's most popular open standard interactive TV middleware," Giri Villiappan, IMPALA's director of market development, said in a prepared statement. "These developments are a step change in the capabilities of the globally deployed technology providing broadcasters with a cost-effective route into a new world of interactive service provision and therefore revenue growth. TechniSat's Germany & Regional weather service--the first MHEG-5 application in the country--uses the company's TechniSat MultyText system that is built in conformance with the new ETSI standard, which will enable all manufacturers to provide receivers in this new market." (Note: for more on the TechniSat deployment cited by Villiappan, see the article published on, September 7th.)