PBS Debuts Another First in Interactive Television; Wavexpress Selected to Provide Digital Broadcasting Platform
Award-winning Actor Alan Alda to Host Series That Lets PBS Viewers In Select Markets Interact with Programs, View Additional Content and Securely Purchase Educational Products
Washington, DC - February 28, 2001 -- The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Wavexpress, a leading provider of integrated services to digital broadcasters, today announced an agreement to broadcast America's first enhanced television series for digital terrestrial (over-the-air) television based upon open standard specifications of the Advanced Television Enhancements Forum (ATVEF). The announcement was made at the PBS Interactive TV Workshop.
Four enhanced episodes of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS will take advantage of Wavexpress' platform features to integrate national and local enhanced broadcast applications synchronized to the program, including seamless integration of TV and the Web. The enhanced episodes of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS, hosted by Alan Alda, will include "Bionic Body," "Chimps R Us," "Flying Free," and "Fat and Happy?" The first of these shows airs on local PBS stations Tuesday, March 27.
Seven local PBS stations will participate in the trial -- WETA (Washington, DC), OPB (Portland, Oregon), NJN (New Jersey), MPBC (Lewiston, Maine), TPT, Twin Cities Public Television (St.Paul/Minneapolis), WHYY (Philadelphia), and KQED (San Francisco). In certain markets, select viewers will install the Wavexpress TVTonic TV/Web browser software and a digital tuner card on their PCs, enabling them to enjoy single screen integration of television and enhanced content overlays, including two-way polling.
Additionally, TVTonic users will be able to chat and engage in peer-to-peer communication with other viewers while watching PBS programs. Showcasing the power of digital broadcasting, PBS will also send interactive content that viewers can store on their hard drive and use after the broadcast. Wavexpress' Wave Systems' (NASDAQ: WAVX) EMBASSY(tm) technology will also provide unique metering and program-related commerce capabilities through which PBS intends to make SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS videos available.
Other partners in the project include The Chedd-Angier Production Company, producing SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS and the enhanced content; Triveni Digital, providing broadcast data insertion technology; Zenith, providing digital terrestrial set-top box receivers; Agilent Technologies, producing an enhanced underwriting message; and Nielsen Media Research, conducting viewer research and analysis.
"With this unprecedented initiative, local PBS stations will be able to showcase content relevant to viewers in their communities," said Cindy Johanson, senior vice president, PBS Interactive. "Those watching these interactive episodes of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS will see content localized for their market, provided by their local public television station. We view this as a significant step forward in the path to personal television. In addition, by forging new ground in the development of interactive television programming, PBS sends a clear message to leading cable, satellite, and digital terrestrial platforms that the content community is anxiously awaiting the deployment of ATVEF compliant receivers."
"PBS has chosen to play a leading role in the deployment of enhanced television," said Cliff Jenks, President of Wavexpress. "Wavexpress has been working with several PBS stations in our datacasting trials and the company is delighted to extend this relationship to provide PBS with tools not only for delivering digital content, but also developing and securing it."
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 347 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org.
About Wavexpress, Inc.
Wavexpress provides integrated services to digital broadcasters. A joint venture of Wave Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: WAVX) and Sarnoff Corporation, Wavexpress delivers enhanced content and rich media-movies, music, sports, news, computer games, software-over a digital broadcast signal direct to any DTV-enabled PC. Wavexpress provides a full range of secure data broadcast architecture, infrastructure, and services to broadcasters, content providers and consumers. Wavexpress' broadcast e-commerce system offers a variety of business models, including ad-supported content distribution, pay-per-use, purchase transactions, and subscription services. Integrating over $100 million in research and development, Wavexpress capitalizes on the broadcast engineering expertise of Sarnoff, and Wave Systems' EMBASSY technology and back-office systems that handle distributed content protection and transaction reporting functions. For more information, visit the Wavexpress web site at: www.wavexpress.com.
TVTonic makes Interactive Television easy. All you need is an analog tuner card and the TVTonic application installed on your PC. Using a digital tuner card brings you crystal clear HDTV pictures and allows you to receive datacast content stored on your hard drive. The attachment of the EMBASSY meter allows you to purchase datacast and Web content securely and privately.
One of the nation's most experienced science and technology film and television documentary companies, The Chedd-Angier Production Company has produced more than 100 prime-time programs for PBS. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS is currently in its 11th season. Visit the series at its new web site at PBS.org/saf.