The HbbTV hybrid broadcast broadband television standard will now be a mandatory part of the specification for digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom. Support for HbbTV has been optional for some time but will be a requirement in the latest update to the D-Book specification. MHEG support will no longer be required.

The Digital TV Group has released D-Book 12.6, the latest update to the requirements for digital terrestrial television interoperability in the United Kingdom.

Originally introduced as an option in D-Book 9 in 2016, support for HbbTV becomes mandatory. D-Book 12.6 requires receivers to support HbbTV 2.0.2, which was published in 2018.

Support for MHEG, which has been part of the platform for over two decades since the launch of digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom, has finally been made optional.

“As we consider the future of television and how viewers access, consume and interact with TV it is clear that we need both agility and stability,” said Richard Lindsay-Davies, the chief executive of the DTG. “The latest update to the D-Book — which remains the only technical standard universally deployed in UK televisions — mandates HbbTV for the first time.”

“It means version 12.6 underpins and supports all innovative digital services, networks and devices in an increasingly globalised IP/broadcast TV market, while providing the stability and confidence industry needs to deliver safe access and inclusion for all UK digital TV consumers.”

The move has been welcomed by Vincent Grivet, the chair of the HbbTV Association. “This signal, coming from a very dynamic and sophisticated market which has been at the forefront of developments in many areas, says a lot about the value of a modern, open specification capable of delivering all relevant interactive TV services expected by consumers today,” he said.

“We are committed to keeping the specification up to the expectations and needs of the market, and we are convinced that it will continue to be recognized as being the right option by an increasing number of markets and industry players.”

The D-Book underpins the platforms for Freeview, Freesat, YouView, EE TV, BT TV and TalkTalk TV.

Freeview Play, the hybrid version of Freeview, offering live and on-demand television, which was launched in 2015 and is integrated in most televisions sold in the United Kingdom, is now used in over 10 million homes.

The 9th annual HbbTV Symposium takes place in Paris in November. Richard Lindsay-Davies of the DTG will be among the speakers.

Ocean Blue Software will be introducing its Open Red Button Project, ORB, which it says will bring significant cost reductions for manufacturers while accelerating innovation, taking advantage of recent developments in embedded browsers and Android and RDK platforms.

“ORB takes a radically different approach both in terms of technology and business model,” said Paul Martin, the chief executive of OBS. “Our approach unleashes the power of collaboration which will considerably accelerate innovation in this area.”