Freeview won't impose receiver spec till 2004 16/07/03



According to a report in the trade newsletter Inside Digital TV, the confidential ‘Baseline Receiver Specification’ will not be immediately imposed on manufacturers wanting to use the Freeview brand. Freeview's marketing arm, DTV Services Ltd, reportedly told Inside Digital TV that it regarded the document as "future-looking", pointing out that no UK DTT receiver yet met its specifications. Instead, manufacturers would be required to "work towards compliance with the specification in the future." The newsletter quotes sources suggesting that such compliance would not be required until well into 2004.

In theory, that could mean that a manufacturer whose existing product didn't include an MHEG engine to enable interactive TV (which is mandated in the spec) would still be able to use the Freeview brand in the interim, provided it undertook to include an MHEG engine in future models. The latitude apparently being shown to manufacturers in this regard offers consumers scant protection when purchasing Freeview-branded equipment in the interim.

Inside Digital TV also reports that the omission from the specification of any requirement for the inclusion of a 'full' electronic programme guide (EPG) was due to the fact that a special working party looking into EPG issues had been unable to agree a recommendation in time. The implication is that, in due course, the specification will be amended to include a requirement for something more advanced than the current 'now-and-next' information. and that a three-day Freeview EPG will probably become available by the end of the year, with a full seven-day EPG surfacing sometime next year. However, it is by no means certain that all Freeview receivers currently in the market will be able to cope with 'full' schedule information when it arrives - this would particularly affect the cheapest adapters currently available.