A new Interactive Television Production Standards Initiative has been launched by television and interactive production companies, programmers, and technology providers. The open standards initiative will address the current industry situation in which "there are several disparate middleware platforms, operating systems, and hardware devices for distributing iTV and no common means of producing interactive programming. XML has been chosen for the standard because of its general acceptance as an open method for transferring data and its compatibility with all of the major iTV platforms. Of the three principal components of iTV programming (content, presentation, behavior), the initiative will seek to standardize only content and presentation. The content production portion of the standard specifies the timing and content of interactive assets such as trivia games, polls, interactive advertising, leaderboards, etc.; presentation description portion of the standard specifies the visual elements of the program, the location of these elements, and a method for mapping content to these locations. The iTV production standards initiative will be compatible with the other major iTV standards, such as SMPTE DDE-1 (ATVEF), SMPTE DDE-2, DVB-MHP, and ATSC-DASE. An XML schema developed by GoldPocket Interactive for enhanced TV programming has been used to create draft specifications, now under review by the WG; the expanded and refined XML spec documents will be published on May 5, 2002.
The standard "will support the leading one- and two-screen platforms, including middleware from Liberate, OpenTV, Microsoft, and PowerTV; AOLTV, UltimateTV, and MSNTV/WebTV set-top boxes; and PCs and Macs."
Scenario: a <poll> element might be created to "define the content type used to poll the participating audience and to return to them the aggregation of their responses"; a <poll-choices> element could be used to "define the behavior of the choices to be presented with a poll"; a <response> element might be used to "define the application's response to a user's actions." Using such elements (with appropriate attributes) one could "create an XML markup of a poll that asks viewers of the Grammy Awards who they think should win the award for best new artist."
iTV Production Standards White Paper. From GoldPocket Interactive and the iTV Production Standards initiative. April 08, 2002. 16 pages. ['Describes different components of the specifications such as the presentation description and the content production, and gives examples of each.'] This document "provides a high level summary of the iTV production standards initiative and the draft specs v1.0, which was distributed to working group members... The introductory chapter of the white paper addresses the mission and goals of the iTV production standards effort and then describes the benefits of the standards effort to all players in the industry. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how this initiative relates to other standardization efforts in the iTV industry. Chapter 2 provides a high-level, conceptual description of the standards initiative, beginning by summarizing the components that comprise an iTV program. The white paper then describes the two-pronged focus of the standards effort -- content production and presentation description. The chapter concludes with a brief description of the standards organization and process. Chapter 3 provides a detailed description of the content production standards, which are the main component of this initiative." The paper notes that sample schemas in the document are not final iTV Production Standards XML Schemas that will be published on the iTV Production Standards Initiative website.
Committee membership and license terms and (unofficial summary): Membership in the iTV Production Standards Committee is free, and open to "all corporations or other business entities engaged in the business of interactive television. Membership benefits include access to the ITV Production Standards Website, to the iTV Production Standards XML schema as posted on the Site, access to technical whitepapers, and other information posted on the Site, listing on the Site, inclusion in publications and press releases related to the standard as appropriate. The license granted by The GoldPocket Interactive, Inc. ('GoldPocket') to a Member [is] a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonsublicensable, worldwide license to the iTV Production Standards XML Schema as published on the website, as updated from time to time... Committee participants understand that the iTV Production Standards XML Schema is an open standard and agree to provide a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonsublicensable, worldwide license to the other members for any contributions they make to the schema as members through a working group or other contribution..."
- Announcement 2002-04-08: "Leading Players In Interactive Television Introduce Open Standards for iTV Production. Standards to Increase Availability and Distribution of iTV Programming on All End-User Platforms." [source]
- iTV Production Standards Initiative website
- iTV Production Standards Initiative membership list
- Project overview
- GoldPocket Interactive (GPi)
- Contact: Mr. Martijn Lopes Cardozo (Chairman, iTV Production Standards Committee). See also general contact information.
- Articles and press:
- "iTV Firms Look to XML for Production Standards." By Thor Olavsrud. From InternetNews.com (April 8, 2002). "In an attempt to increase the amount of iTV programming in the U.S. and unify the fragmented iTV middleware market, a group of Interactive TV content and technology providers Monday unveiled a draft XML-based standard intended to allow producers and studios to write interactive content once and distribute it to all major set-top box and PC platforms. They gathered under the banner of the iTV production standards initiative. The iTV industry has been plagued by false starts, both in the realm of public demand and the reluctance of content producers to actually create iTV content. Two-way iTV provider GoldPocket Interactive, developer of the XML-based production standards, said it believes producers have shied from iTV due to the unattractive economic considerations of creating content for disparate middleware platforms, operating systems and hardware devices..."
- "Standards for Interactive Television: A Brief State of the Union." By Tim Halle (WGBH).
- "Tuning In to iTV: The Opportunities and Challenges of Developing Interactive Television Apps With XML." By John Papageorge (CEO, Media Overdrive). From IBM developerWorks, XML zone. February 2002.
- "Broadcast Markup Language (BML)"
- DVB-HTML application format. Presented as Annex AA in the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) Specification 1.1, surveyed by Philippe Perrot in "DVB-HTML: An Optional Declarative Language Within MHP 1.1. XML Technologies In Broadcasting."
- OpenTV. "The OpenTV Publisher engine uses XML to provide operators and content developers with the ability to turn any XML-based data source, data stream or specific body of copy such as magazine content into iTV content..."