The EBU and ETSI jointly organized a workshop on 9 September 2009 on one of the most exciting topics in broadcast technology today: Hybrid Broadcast Broadband, or more simply "hybrid broadcasting". This was arranged to be just before the IBC 2009 in Amsterdam, so that EBU and ETSI members would understand the background to the many sessions on the topic held during IBC.
Three parts workshop
The workshop consisted of three parts. In the first part, the main elements of the work in hybrid broadcasting being done by the DVB project, the Open IPTV Forum, and the new grouping, HbbTV, were explained. The HbbTV group includes a number of European broadcasters, operators, and manufacturers. They hope to submit a potential specification for a hybrid broadcasting system, HbbTV 1.0., to the ETSI standardisation body (EBU/ETSI JTC Broadcast) later this year.
MHP and MHEG-5
In the second part of the workshop, proponents of the currently used interactive TV systems DVB-MHP and MHEG-5 were invited to outline how these systems could fulfil the role of a hybrid broadcasting system. In the third part, user groups were invited to explain their requirements for such systems.
Licences and mobiles?
Finally there was an interactive discussion with the packed audience. Two important areas emerged from the discussions. The first was the need for attention to licence fees in these new systems. Broadcasters are haunted by the ghosts of the submarine patents which emerged with MHP five years after services had begun, and which was responsible for missed opportunities for its use. This time this has to be avoided. Particulary for the hybrid broadcasting area where the world is used to licence free Internet systems. There also was a concern that the business has forgotten about the need for such systems to function on handhelds, as well as lounge televisions.
Summing up there were many questions unanswered at the end of the workshop, but equally there was a clearer understanding of what the questions should be.