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Clover’s Week: HbbTV makes its way across Europe
April 12, 2012 15.46 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Nordig has adopted HbbTV as the preferred API in the Nordic region. Where next for the hybrid protocol, asks Julian Clover?

There can be a danger that as an island nation the UK gets lost in its own self importance. It is generally true that the UK, helped along by the combination of the BBC, Sky, Freeview and the DTG is more than often able to innovate in the development of TV technologies.

While YouView, which may or may not launch in the next few weeks, has been slowly making its way, much of the rest of Europe has been signing up to connected TV HbbTV-style.

The progress made by what we once referred to as a Franco-German project has this week gained the Nordic market as its latest scalp. There had been suggestions that the ETSI-approved collection of existing standards and web technologies including OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CEA, DVB and W3C might make it to the Land of the Midnight Sun, but the inclusion as the preferred API within the Nordig specifications makes it official.

Nordig represents Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and by a quirk of history Ireland, though the latter is running MHEG-5, as per the UK.

Just as MHEG has or had the support of the UK’s public broadcasters, the same can be said within the Nordic region. For example the work that put through the HbbTV specifications for Nordig was done so under the eye of Peter Mølsted from the Danish public broadcaster DR.

But Nordig also has the support of the majority of pay and free platforms in the region including Boxer, Comhem, Canal Digital and Digita. Not that all of them will want to move from the sometimes proprietary systems used on the pay platforms.

Curiously Canal Digital is in the process of introducing new ADB boxes that run MHP, chosen after the satcaster’s brief dalliance with TiVo.

It was MHP that Nordig members signed up to in March 2001. At that point the DVB-sponsored API was ready to conquer Europe and in a roundabout way had the support of the European Commission, assuming that counts as an advantage.

MHP survives of course, in the US as GEM, and despite the ill-fated patent pool it continues as the driver for the delivery of content over broadband in Italy.

So where next for HbbTV? Possibly the UK of course with the technology forming a part of the ever-so-slightly delayed Freesat next generation receivers.

It might also look towards CI Plus, which is now being fostered by the DVB having previously been run from within the industry. The DVB must surely be the natural home for such a technology that could also lay to rest the ghost of MHP.

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Clover’s Week: HbbTV makes its way across Europe


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