New Series Showcases Enhanced Digital Television
PRINCETON JCT, N.J., Oct. 1, 2001 -- Building on the flexibility of the U.S. digital television (DTV) standard and a successful first round of interactive television trials, Triveni Digital and Zenith Electronics Corporation are partnering with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to provide technical support for a new interactive television series, "Life 360," scheduled to debut Oct. 5 (check local listings.).
In the 13-week primetime series, PBS will broadcast the interactive television content over terrestrial DTV, cable and satellite. Zenith DTV set-top boxes built to the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) specification will be provided to approximately 100 households during the trial. In addition, PBS will use Triveni Digital's "SkyScraper" data broadcasting system to insert data into the DTV transmission. The companies are providing the ATVEF-enabled products to NJN (Trenton), KQED (San Francisco), WMVS (Milwaukee), KRMA (Denver) and WGBH (Boston), the five PBS digital television stations participating in the trial.
Triveni Digital will provide PBS and the four member stations with its SkyScraper data-broadcasting platform. The SkyScraper DataFab enables PBS and other content providers to schedule, insert and manage enhanced data securely. The SkyScraper DataHub allows PBS to allocate and manage bandwidth usage, while merging data packets with video programs to broadcast the complete transport stream. With this architecture, broadcasters can add enhanced content both at national and local station levels.
For its part, Zenith -- like Triveni Digital, a subsidiary of LG Electronics Inc. -- will provide DTV set-top boxes designed to receive and display interactive DTV content using the ATVEF, which allows the enhanced material to be broadcast with the program, rather than requiring a connection to the Internet. These set-tops will receive the over-the-air DTV broadcast signals, display the program information and user-viewable enhancements, and store the program enhancements for use by the viewer during the program.
"PBS and our participating stations are pulling together a most unique interactive television experience," said Deron Triff, Senior Director, PBS Interactive Television. "We believe that our enhanced 'Life 360' concepts, designs, and technology will demonstrate true innovation that differentiates public television by our use of digital television to inspire local viewer participation and contribution during and after the broadcast. This is yet another example of Triveni Digital and Zenith's advanced DTV technology in action, already borne out in our past field experience working with them."
"Interactive applications represent digital television's next frontier," said Zenith Senior Vice President Richard Lewis. "PBS is leading the way with 'Life 360,' and our enabling technology will help PBS begin to demonstrate DTV's full potential in this exciting interactive television trial. Zenith's involvement complements Triveni Digital's cutting-edge technology to offer PBS and its participating member stations real-world experience in interactive television applications."
"The ability to add enhancements to programming, whether on a national, regional or local basis, is of extreme importance to the television industry, as broadcasters search for new content and business models to support their transition to digital television," said Triveni Digital President and CEO Mark Simpson. "Whether for educational or commercial use, being able to provide easy-to-navigate enhanced programming, without requiring the viewer to be connected to the Internet will be one of the driving forces of DTV, both for broadcasters and viewers."
"Life 360" is the first original series produced for PBS as part of the reinvention of the PBS prime-time schedule. Each 60-minute program in this innovative 13-part series - hosted by Emmy®-winning ABC News "Nightline" correspondent Michel Martin - explores an intriguing theme through a dynamic mix of segments that draw on the storytelling craft of the best and brightest independent filmmakers, writers, comedians, musicians, performance artists, and journalists commenting on life today.
To make the "Life 360" interactive television project possible, PBS initiated an unprecedented co-production partnership between PBS, Oregon Public Broadcasting and ABC News "Nightline." Enhanced "Life 360" offers PBS another opportunity to showcase its vision for digital television. Using tested local insertion technologies and models, the four public television stations will build community-related content around each episode of the national program by creating locally relevant interactivity customized to each market.
In addition to data insertion in the vertical blanking interval of the analog signal, the "Life 360" interactive television broadcasts, including the enhanced content, will be transmitted by local PBS stations using the digital terrestrial 8-VSB transmission system developed by Zenith and adopted by the Federal Communications Commission as part of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) DTV standard.
Earlier this year, Triveni Digital and Zenith joined forces with PBS for the industry's first ATVEF terrestrial DTV broadcasts of interactive television enhancements. The successful trial was built around four episodes of "Scientific American Frontiers" airing on selected local PBS stations last spring. Enhanced streams with additional information about the program were placed within each episode.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Va., is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 346 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org.
Zenith Electronics Corporation, based in Lincolnshire, Ill., is a long-time leader in consumer electronics and primary developer of digital high-definition television (HDTV) technology. Zenith developed the VSB digital transmission system adopted by the FCC as part of the ATSC DTV standard. In addition to its broad line of HDTV products (70 percent of Zenith's 2001 product line is digital) Zenith offers a full line of digital broadcast products, including ATSC modulators, demodulators, translators and receivers to assist PBS and other broadcasters in the rollout of digital television services. Zenith is a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Electronics Inc. Visit Zenith on the World Wide Web at www.zenith.com.
About Triveni Digital:
Triveni Digital, Inc., a subsidiary of LG Electronics, develops digital television systems, focusing on equipment for management of data and meta-data in digital broadcast streams. Triveni Digital's products for ATSC PSIP, data broadcasting, stream analysis and monitoring are renowned for their ease of use and innovative features. Triveni Digital's custom solutions business enables the rapid deployment of solutions for data broadcast applications. Working with leading industry partners, Triveni Digital employs an open and standards-compliant approach to the digital television market. Information on Triveni Digital is available at www.TriveniDigital.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.