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Seven Reasons Standard TV Transmission.

As director of the Advanced Television Enhanced Forum (ATVEF), I talk with executives throughout the television industry and across the globe. Television programmers are rapidly adopting the ATVEF specification because it provides a cost-effective base for data services across any network for any receiver (satellite, cable, terrestrial, etc.). Beyond the direct benefit to programmers though, is the broad support of the television industry for the specification. Today there are more than 80 international licensees of this industry-initiated specification. So what do they see as the benefits in using this specification?

* Foundation for the Future: Relying on Web standards, the ATVEF Enhanced Content Specification provides a foundation cemented by experience. In either a one- or two-way service environment, the specification defines how the program signals the receiver to recognize the enhanced content and display it on the television screen.

* Ease of Programming: Cost has been a major factor in the slow growth of data-enhanced television services. Proprietary programming and receivers, the lack of tools and the need for an experienced creative employee pool has made it prohibitive to get a single enhanced-content program in front of a large audience. The ATVEF specification relies on existing Web standards like HTML, JavaScript and multicast IP to create programming that takes advantage of minimal new technology, making these standards useful in any television service environment. By creating or repurposing content for a variety of compliant receivers, it is now easier than ever to quickly reach a broad audience.

* Low Cost: As programmers are able to rely on existing tools and an expert pool of creative resources, the ATVEF specification provides a cost-effective base for extending beyond today's Web sites and into the realm of network programming. Nearly any digital receiver that is deployed in today's market is capable of supporting ATVEF-based programming, once the software is ATVEF-compliant. There is no need to create new authoring tools or develop new creative talent. Programming created for the Web or television (or any other appliance) can easily be repurposed for new services -- even for delivery of news, weather or stock updates to a pager. Embedding production and inventory management information yields a new, simpler model for managing and reusing assets. Gone are the days of paper tape inscribed with the production data of a program.

* Consumer Satisfaction: Interactive television will no longer be focused on channel surfing or electronic program guides. By extending the creative palette of the program creators to include Web-like data, the consumers' experience can be entirely new. Entertainment, information and even advertising now become new realms in which the consumer can participate at several levels. In October, Sony Pictures Entertainment launched ATVEF-based programming with its Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune game programs allowing at-home viewers to participate in the game being played on television and even to compete for prizes.

* Local Content Made Easy: The simplicity of the ATVEF spec also provides for easy programming at the local level, including regional news, weather, sports and public affairs. Local affiliates and operators would share the ability to expand their services to the local community. When the national crafts program identifies a particular tool, local operators can insert information on where to buy that tool nearby, not only adding value to their customers, but also adding advertising revenue.

* New Business Models: The introduction of data programming and services extends the business models dramatically. By tracking local consumer "remote click" activity, local operators/affiliates would have the ability to sell information to advertisers and national programmers, such as demographic data based on actual consumer activity. By accumulating this data, local operators would have a new revenue source providing more specific and immediate information on consumer television habits and activity than has ever been available. Advertisers could retrieve consumer response information by the next day, either through the local operator or by monitoring and correlating Web access to specific programs or offers. An ad offering a coupon to consumers might be fulfilled via the Web, or through the local retailer, and tracked all the way through the sale without violating consumer privacy. Eventually, the ability to purchase products and services will extend well beyond our historic expectations of television. I, for one, will be thrilled to write my grocery list on the pad on my refrigerator, knowing it will be delivered Saturday morning at 9 a.m. I won't care whether my phone, local broadcast, cable, satellite or Internet service makes this possible, but I'll be glad to subscribe.

* Receiver Management: In-house programming at Madison Square Garden has already taken advantage of the ATVEF specification, not only providing unique programming options to in-house audiences, but also enabling the in-house receivers to be upgraded across the network. No longer is it necessary to visit each receiver to provide software enhancements or new services. They are just a network download away.

One of the greatest challenges in moving to the digital-television age will be to create value for your customers that generates loyalty as well as growing revenue opportunities. The benefits of licensing the ATVEF specification depend on where you take it: for your customers and your business. For more information about ATVEF specification and how to license it, visit us at

CJ Fredricksen is also director of Industry Marketing at Intel.

ATVEF Founders and Adopters


Cable Labs

CNN Interactive


Discovery Communications

Intel Corporation

Liberate Technologies


NBC Multimedia

NDTC Technology


Sony Corporation


The Walt Disney Company

Warner Bros.


A&E Television Network

American Film Institute

APL Digital

Avid Technology


Bertelsmann Broadband Group

LaboratoriesBillp Studios



Cable & Wireless Communications

Chronicle Publishing

Citytv and MuchMusic

CTV.Net Limited

Dentsu USA

Deutsche Telekom


E! Entertainment Television


The Fantastic Corporation

FAST Multimedia

Hitachi America

Imedia Corporation



LG Electronics



MagiNet Corporation


Mixed Signals Technologies



National Geographic Ventures



Nokia Multimedia Terminals

Norpak Corporation

NTL Digital Services

Pace Micro Technology

Panasonic AVC American

Peach Networks

Pittard Sullivan

Playboy Enterprises


ProSieben Digital Media

Pushy Broad

Regent Electronics Corporation

R/GA Broadband

Samsung Electronics

Screamingly Different Entertainment

Scripps Networks

Sharp Corporation

SkyStream Corporation

Sonic Solutions


Steeplechase Media

Stellar One Corporation


Telecruz Technology

Telewest Communications

Thomcast Communications

Thomson Multimedia

TVN Entertainment

Two Way TV

Unique Vacations

Wavo Corporation

The Weather Channel

Wink Communications

WYSIWYG Diseno Digital

ATVEF Glossary of Terms

announcements: Announcements are used to announce currently available programming to the receiver.

binding: An ATVEF binding is the definition of how the ATVEF transport specifications are encoded on a specific video network standard.

content creator: An ATVEF content creator has the role of originating the content components of the television enhancement: including graphics, layout, interaction and triggers.

CSS1 (Cascading Style Sheets, Level 1): CSS1 is a simple style sheet mechanism that allows content creators and readers to attach style (e.g. fonts, colors and spacing) to HTML documents. The CSS 1 language is both readable and writable, and expresses style in common desktop publishing terminology.

datagram: A block of data that carries enough information to travel from one Internet site to another without having to rely on earlier exchanges between the source and destination computer.

DHTML (Dynamic HTML): A term used by some vendors to describe the combination of HTML, style sheets and scripts that enable the animation of Web pages.

DOM (Document Object Model): The Document Object Model is a platform and language-neutral interface that will allow programs and scripts to dynamically access and update the content, structure and style of documents. The document can be further processed and the results of that processing can be incorporated back into the presented page.

ECMA Script: A general purpose, cross-platform programming language.

FEC: Forward Error Correction

FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A standard for finding and transferring files on the Internet.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): A collection of tags typically used in the development of Web pages.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): A set of instructions for communication between a server and a World Wide Web client.

IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority): The central registry for various Internet protocol parameters, such as port, protocol and enterprise numbers, and options, codes and types. The currently assigned values are listed in the Assigned Numbers document. For more information or to request a number assignment, e-mail IANA at

IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force): The IETF is a large, open community of network designers, operators, vendors and researchers. The purpose of IETF is to coordinate the operation, management and evolution of the Internet, and to resolve short range and midrange protocol and architectural issues. The IETF meets three times a year and extensive minutes are included in the IETF Proceedings.

IP (Internet Protocol): This protocol is one of the languages computers use when connected to the Internet.

IP multicast: A one-to-many transmission, in contrast to Unicast. It is an extension to the standard IP network-level protocol.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization): A voluntary non-treaty organization founded in 1946 which is responsible for creating international standards in many areas, including computers and communications. Its members are the national standards organizations of the 89 member countries.

MIME (multipart/signed, multipart/encrypted content-types): A protocol for allowing e-mail messages to contain various types of media (text, audio, video, images, etc.).

NABTS: North American Basic Teletext Specification.

receiver: An ATVEF receiver is a hardware and software implementation (television, set-top box, or personal computer) that decodes and presents ATVEF content.

SAP (Session Announcement Protocol): The protocol used for session announcements.

SDP (Session Description Protocol): SDP is intended for describing multimedia sessions for the purposes of session announcements, session invitations, and other forms of multimedia session initiations.

transport operator: The transport operator runs a video delivery infrastructure (terrestrial, cable, satellite, or other) that includes a transport for ATVEF data.

triggers: Triggers are used to identify the URL in the announcement to the user in order to communicate the availability of the interactive television experience to the user, (as opposed to announcing it to the client downloader mechanism).

TV enhancement: A collection of Web content displayed in conjunction with a TV broadcast as an enhanced or interactive program.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol): An Internet Standard transport layer protocol. It is a connectionless protocol which adds a level of reliability and multiplexing to IP.

UHTTP (Unidirectional Hypertext Transfer Protocol): UHTTP is a simple, one-way resource transfer protocol that is designed to efficiently deliver resource data in a one-way broadcast-only environment. This resource transfer protocol is appropriate for IP multicast over television vertical blanking interval (IPVBI), in IP multicast carried in MPEG-2, or in other unidirectional transport systems.

UUID (Universally Unique Identifier): Also known as GUID (Globally Unique Identifier), this is an identifier that is unique across both space and time, with respect to the space of all UUIDs.

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium): The W3C, an international industry consortium, was founded October 1994 to bring the World Wide Web to its full potential. by developing common protocols promoting its evolution and ensuring its interoperability. The official site of the Advanced Television Enhanced Forum. Italian-language ATVEF info site.
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Publication:Video Age International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Previous Article:Int'l Council With TV Future in Mind.
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