Impala welcomes interactive Freesat channel

Impala, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance, said it welcomed the beta release of the world’s first deployment of hybrid broadcast broadband MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC) by UK free-to-air satellite platform Freesat.

Freesat, which is owned by the BBC and ITV, will allow access to the highly successful BBC iPlayer catch-up TV service via the IP connection, supplementing its existing broadcast content.

The principles behind 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 channel or network. The MHEG-IC gives access to streamed on-demand video content in addition to traditional text and graphics as well as the ability to support secure transactions.

Giri Valliappan, Director of Market Development with IMPALA, said in a statement, “While there has been much discussion in the marketplace about other potential hybrid technologies, we are delighted that MHEG is the first to make this real-world breakthrough. The MHEG-IC has been designed to provide viewers with access to additional on-demand services without the broadcaster having to relinquish control, something that we believe to be tremendously important.”

The MHEG-IC uses a ‘Hybrid File System’ that enables broadcasters to create common applications that can work on both IP-connected and unconnected receivers in a seamless and user friendly way. The MHEG-IC allows the application to determine whether or not an IP connection is possible (i.e. the receiver is equipped with the appropriate hardware and software) and whether or not it is actually available (i.e. has the user actually connected the receiver to the home network?).

The system enables decoding of MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 streams using the same hardware used for broadcast content.