Germany sets digital standard

Multimedia Home Platform standard to be introduced in July

BERLIN — With broadband cable on the way, German broadcasting regulators, and public and commercial webs settled Wednesday on the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) as the standard for digital reception.

In a joint announcement, pubcasters ARD and ZDF, commercial TV giants Kirch and RTL and regional media regulators said the decision would allow viewers to receive digital programming from different channels and additional multimedia services regardless of the end receiver. The MHP standard will be introduced by July.

ARD topper Fritz Pleitgen welcomed the move, calling it “a decisive breakthrough for digital TV in Germany.”

ARD had always backed MHP. Pleitgen added that the decision finally lets manufacturers know where they stand. MHP, he said, has a good chance of becoming the European standard. “This is a must for a future television without borders.”

Kirch head of technology and networks Peter Mihatsch said, “The Kirch Group is making a commitment to a far-reaching strategy in a changing competitive environment.”

Speaking at a press conference Thursday in Munich, Mihatsch added that MHP would enable the mass marketing of digital terminal devices.

Decision is also seen as a breakthrough for Kirch’s troubled digital pay TV web Premiere World. Its customers will soon be able to choose from a number of MHP decoders and will no longer be forced to buy or rent the much criticized D-Box. With a new additional module, which would sell for about $50, viewers could subscribe to Premiere World.

Mihatsch added that whether D-Boxes will continue to be provided to new subs depends on how quickly new MHP models hit the market. D-Boxes are already outfitted to receive MHP-encoded programming.

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