The European Commission has stated that it will not make a decision on imposing interactive TV standards until the end of 2005. Currently, there are several platforms in use throughout Europe, though the Commission does not see this as a problem, instead promoting interoperability on a voluntary basis. As some of the platform proponents are competitors, it remains to be seen if this will be successful.
Whilst the Commission hopes that everyone will share and get along, they are strongly advocating the Multimedia Home Platform. MHP is currently employed by RTL in Germany.
Developing for multiple interactive TV platforms does no-one any good – content has to be rewritten and retested for every platform and each system has different capabilities. As final content has to work on all platforms it is likely to encounter, it is often as simple and demanding as possible – stifling innovation.
There are five interactive APIs in use across Europe today, deployed in 25 million set top boxes, yet the Commission does not see this as a problem:
“In view of the complexity of the technological and market environment, the very different perceptions of interoperability held by market players, and the fact that interactive digital TV has not yet taken off on a larger scale in many Member States, we felt that the digital television market should continue to develop unhindered for the present” commented Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Olli Rehn, “Digital television networks (satellite, terrestrial and cable) have the potential to offer delivery of multi-media information Society services, alongside 3G mobile and other networks, and we welcome all future investment in this important technology. We will however revisit the issue at the end of 2005 in order to see to what extent market developments have contributed to interoperability and freedom of choice for users.”