PBS Demonstrates Enhanced Digital TV and Data Broadcasting

Is the world ready for interactive television? The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) apparently thinks so. Last week PBS, along with several of its member stations, LG Electronics, and LG Electronics Research Center of America (LGERCA), began demonstrating "enhanced digital television and data broadcasting" to their viewers as part of PBS Digital Week 2.0.

As part of the enhanced broadcasts, PBS says its viewers are able to access a "rich variety of additional educational components." Wonders of the African World with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., broadcast last week, was used to demonstrate a Web-enhanced digital broadcast that is intended to build upon the content on PBS's companion website. The enhancements were broadcast during the program and were accessible at the end of each episode.

Three PBS member stations—New Jersey Network in Trenton, New Jersey; KCPT in Kansas City, Missouri; and KOPB in Portland, Oregon—demonstrated the enhancements at their facilities using PCs with LG-developed digital TV tuner cards and LGERCA's SkyScraper data-broadcasting software. PBS claims that this was the first-ever nationwide data-broadcast demonstration compliant with the data-piping protocol of the Advanced Television Standards Committee (ATSC) draft data broadcasting standard. LGERCA says that Skyscraper allows digital TV stations to broadcast data to any number of their customers' PCs without running into Internet bandwidth problems, and with viewers able to receive all data being distributed.

PBS has also recently announced that it will broadcast an LG-enhanced version of its The Living Edens at PBS's Fall Planning Meeting, using the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) specification. According to PBS, the ATVEF specification will allow enhanced programming content to be delivered over all forms of transport (analog, digital, cable, and satellite) to any "intelligent" receiver. PBS says that viewers who watch ATVEF programs may browse through the enhanced data while the program continues on the television.