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Brussels, 20 August 2001

Short report following the meeting between Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, EBU President Arne Wessberg and ARD President Fritz Pleitgen

On Friday, 17th August 2001 the European Commissioner for the Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, the President of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Arne Wessberg, and the Chairman of the Co-operative of Public Broadcasting Organisations in Germany (ARD), Fritz Pleitgen, met in Helsinki to discuss the necessary steps to support digital television in Europe on a common basis.

Commissioner Erkki Liikanen voiced his support for the digital television industry to migrate towards Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) based on open standards. "I welcome industry initiatives to promote voluntary migration towards MHP across the Single Market. The European Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) being prepared by various industry associations is an extremely positive step. This MOU would build upon and complement the work of national MHP implementation groups, like Nordig, FUN and MHP Marcom. It offers a process that will help the roll-out of MHP over the next few years, steering it towards sustainability and critical mass across Member States' markets".

Arne Wessberg appeals to European industry: "As President of EBU, I would like to encourage the industry to look at initiatives such as NorDig as a model for a voluntary industry-lead Memorandum of Understanding, paving the way for a successful migration to MHP on a national, regional and possibly even Europe-wide level."

"We need full interoperability of all systems. All equipment designed for the reception of interactive services must be configured in such a way as to receive all offers with full functionality. Different technical solutions on different platforms will not safeguard competition in the long term," Fritz Pleitgen said.

The most important basis for such interoperability is the common DVB-MHP standard. The Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) is a standard jointly developed by European industry as an operating software to reproduce interactive digital programme offers on the television screen. Wessberg and Pleitgen support the Commission's initiative to promote the migration of all market participants to this standard on the national and European level. Given the differences in markets and stages of development of digital television in Europe, they specifically welcomed the Commission's support for voluntary industry initiatives for the introduction of MHP on all platforms. Examples are the NorDig initiative in the Scandinavian countries, and the Free Universe Network (F.U.N.) in Germany.

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