Setting a digital TV standard

EU leaning toward uniform platform

BRUSSELS — The European Union is throwing its weight behind moves to establish a common standard for the burgeoning digital TV industry.

Erkki Liikanen, commissioner responsible for the information society, has met with Arne Wessberg, chairman of pubcaster federation the European Broadcasting Union, and Fritz Pleitgen, German pubcaster ARD’s topper, to discuss taking up the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) open standard within the digital TV industry.

MHP has been jointly developed by the European industry as operating software for creating interactive digital TV programs. The software allows content to be authored once and run anywhere.

The industry is preparing a memorandum of understanding on MHP, which the commission described as “an extremely positive step.” It says it will help the rollout of MHP over the next few years, “steering it towards sustainability and critical mass” across EU markets.

The EBU’s Wessberg suggested this document could pave the way for a “successful migration to MHP on a national, regional and possibly even Europewide level.”

Groups push format

A number of national MHP implementation groups already set up in Europe have also been promoting MHP as an international standard. These include Germany’s Free Universe Network, Scandinavia’s Nordig and MHP Marcom, a body involving players such as Philips, Grundig and Nokia.

“We need full interoperability of all systems. Different technical solutions on different platforms will not safeguard competition in the long term,” ARD’s Pleitgen said.