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BBC iPlayer to hit Freesat boxes by month's end

MHEG implementation paves way for Freeview HD release too

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The BBC's iPlayer will be coming to Freesat later this month, finally giving free-to-air satellite television set-top boxes' Ethernet ports something to do.

Rahul Chakkara, BBC Future Media & Technology's head of TV Platforms, this week wrote on his blog that the service could be introduced before the month is out.

The Freesat-friendly version of iPlayer uses the MHEG 5 interactive TV standard to select and present internet-sourced iPlayer video streams. BBC R&D has been porting the HTML- and Flash-based version to MHEG, but the work is clearly not complete as Chakkara admitted the initial rollout will be a "beta deployment".

The work paves the way not only for iPlayer access through Freesat boxes, but also upcoming Freeview HD machines. Chakkara said MHEG 5 is also part of the standards enshrined in "DBook", the specification bible that defines Freeview HD's foundation technology. No great surprise there - regular Freeview has been using MHEG 5 since it started broadcasting.

However, Freeview boxes generally don't support networking. The ability to access BBC iPlayer and, potentially, other interactive TV services, if they're MHEG based, means it's more likely Freeview HD boxes will. ®

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