MILIA 2004, the World Interactive Content Forum, sees the industry descend on Cannes in the South of France to talk shop and meet programme makers and distributors.

Hosted alongside MiPTV, the international television programme market, the MILIA conference and exhibition brings together industry professionals from across Europe and around the World. The MILIA conference is for the first time also open to MiPTV participants.

The integration of the interactive content convention with the larger television festival marks growing importance of interactive television, a field that scarcely existed when MILIA was first launched in 1994. Now the focus is on interactive television, mobile and broadband applications.

In an opening keynote for the joint conference, Jana Bennett, the BBC’s director of television addresses ‘The Red Button Revolution’ and the future of television programming in a cross-platform world.

In this increasingly convergent and connected media world, the focus of home entertainment is no longer dominated by traditional television.

With this emphasis on ‘New TV’, the challenge for content producers is to explore new interactive opportunities with formats that exploit the full potential of this new media environment.

Inevitably, there is also considerable interest in generating additional revenue through interactive services.

New ‘cool tools’ offer the attractive prospect of visual drag and drop authoring, opening up new opportunities to creative content producers. Among the authoring systems featured are emuse Modelstream and ensequence on-Q.

With the capability to target multiple platforms, such tools may enable some degree of content portability in a market still fragmented by multiple middleware systems.

While open standards such as Multimedia Home Platform promise the ability to deliver interactive content and services across multiple platforms, the reality for many prospective producers and content providers is that they will need to contend with complex technology choices for some time.

Compelling content and services are crucial to the success of interactive television, and MILIA offers a forum to explore the true potential of the medium.