Australian free-to-air broadcasters are apparently planning a FreeView brand similar to the successful service in the United Kingdom. It could threaten the prospects of a partership between the Seven Network and TiVo. Meanwhile, satellite broadcaster Austar is rolling out its own MyStar digital video recorder with four tuners, allowing seamless integration of both satellite subscription services and local broadcasts.
The Seven Network has been planning to launch a digital video recorder in partnership with TiVo, but there are reports that this could be threatened by moves from the other free-to-air Australian broadcasters to establish their own FreeView service.
The Nine and Ten networks are pursuing a platform similar to Freeview in the United Kingdom. A similarly named service is already available on satellite in New Zealand and will be launched on terrestrial television there later this year.
The Australian networks are planning an awareness campaign to promote the range of channels that will be available. In addition to the five existing networks, and five high-definition channels, another five standard definition channels are expected to follow next year.
The terrestrial networks may need to band together to limit the growth of satellite subscription services from Foxtel, which already offers its own iQ digital video recorder.
Austar, which offers subscription services in regional Australia, serving 660,000 customers mainly through satellite, is rolling out its own MyStar recorder. First announced over three years ago, MyStar was available to the first customers at the end of 2007 but has only recently been launched commercially.
With the MyStar box, Austar viewers are able to watch and record channels on either terrestrial or satellite services as if coming from the same network. The seamless integration is based on OpenTV Core2 and PVR technologies. The recorder will automatically manage the selection of tuners and dealing with conflict management in the case of programme clashes.
“MyStar revolutionizes the television experience of our customers, with the four tuners enabling them to enjoy all of their local channels directly alongside their Austar channels for the first time,” said John Porter, the chief executive of Austar.
Mike Ivanchenko of OpenTV said: “We believe more and more multi-interface boxes will be required by networks and OpenTV technology has been designed to handle them from day one.”