Finnish terrestrial broadcasters set up a Launcher project

17 Febuary 2003

Finnish digital terrestrial TV broadcasters have agreed to develop the common applications suite further by adding a common Launcher application.

Finnish digital terrestrial TV broadcasters have agreed to develop the common applications suite further by adding a common Launcher application. The other two applications cross-carried through all terrestrial digital channels are bi-lingual (Finnish/Swedish) EPG and a digital teletext browser core, called Superteletext.

Launcher application is aimed to be the only autostarting application, which then takes control of starting, stopping, preloading, pausing and releasing of other applications which then would be signaled as present, but not autostarting applications. The objective is to control the behavior of the MHP application environment from the viewer point of view, so that no un-planned phenomena should take place while using any MHP applications. As an example, no autostarting applications will pop up to viewer’s screen while making e-banking transactions in any of the banking applications available in Finnish DTV. Launcher will be signaled as service bound, while EPG and Superteletext may not be.

One great achievement was the allocation of the so-called color buttons and VK_TELETEXT button in the MHP standardized remote control. The actions have been allocated as:

RED: “Hot topics” – any tv program related added value, relative to the point of time. Aimed to be the “starting point of viewer interaction”
GREEN: un-allocated, available for other applications
YELLOW: The national EPG shortcut
BLUE: Application listing of all available applications, tracks AIT and Launcher configuration files (list includes Superteletext and EPG)
VK_TELETEXT: The national Superteletext browser, will start the browser with channel dependent content

Launcher is defined by the joint task force – called KASU – of the terrestrial broadcasters. Members include YLE – the state national broadcaster and representatives from both commercial broadcasters, MTV3 and Channel Four Finland. The KASU workgroup started their work in 1999. (The MTV3 channel is operated by MTV Oy and Channel Four Finland Nelonen is operated by SWelcom Oy)

The aim of the KASU project is to enable all Finnish terrestrial MHP broadcasters to operate in a real multi-application environment and develop a robust common EPG as well as extensible browser core as the basis of digital text service. An open Launcher is needed, as the MHP spec does not fully define the application management to support stable and predictable end-user experience. KASU project group has come out with a Launcher specification and ordered the programming work from Sofia Digital.

Broadcasters are not tied to use the common Launcher application itself, but they should follow the requirements defined by the specification, if any proprietary launchers are used. The Launcher specification is aimed to be open and released in Finnish as well as in English to all interested parties when the complete 1.0 status is reached. The target schedule is to start Launcher testing in the beginning of February.

Mr. Kimmo Sinkko
Chairman of the KASU technical group
Assistant Director, MTV3 Interactive