The BBC has pledged its support to the HbbTV standard for interactive TV.

As part of the move, the BBC will remove the legacy MHEG requirement from its ‘BBC Interactive HTML application’ specification.

It is now working with industry partners to align other specifications such as the D-Book, which is published by the DTG, and the Freeview Play specification and Trade Mark Licence framework managed by Digital UK and Freeview.

A plan will be developed by the BBC, Freeview, Digital UK and the DTG by September this year, which will then be shared publicly in relevant industry forums. The plan will include “the development and sharing of test applications to enable manufacturers to ensure correct behaviour of the new HbbTV-based services”.

The BBC anticipates that manufacturers will be able to build HbbTV 2.0.1 into their 2018 product cycles.

In a statement the BBC said it believed the approach would address manufacturer feedback while “balancing the needs of audiences to drive the industry forwards and provide a better environment for UK free-to-air services”.

What is HbbTV?

HbbTV stands for Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV. It allows for the delivery of interactive services over broadcast and broadband networks through an internet-connected TV or set-top box.

HbbTV is based on elements of existing standards and web technologies including OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CEA-2014 (CE-HTML), W3C (HTML) and DVB Application Signalling Specification (ETSI TS 102 809) and DASH. 

As well as the companies listed above, members of the HbbTV organisation include Arqiva, BT, Ericsson and ITV.

The DTG welcomed the BBC’s adoption of HbbTV.

DTG chief executive Richard Lindsay-Davies said: “We are actively engaged to set out a plan, working with the BBC, Freeview, DUK and DTG Members to deliver a solution which works for both the industry and consumers with their varied viewing preferences.

“We are all supportive of a well-managed migration from MHEG to HbbTV and as the only mechanism that has successfully universally deployed, interoperable, interactive television services, the D-Book continues to lead the way forward in helping the industry deliver television to viewers.”