Skip to main content
About PBS
PBS And Triveni Digital Announce Interactive Television Trials With Scientific American Frontiers
Email share

Partnership Allows For National and Local Insertion of Enhanced TV Content Enabling Viewers in Select Markets to Interact with Programs Using ATVEF-enabled Digital TV Set-Top Boxes

Washington, DC - February 28, 2001 -- The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Triveni Digital, the leading solutions provider for the management of enhanced data and metadata in digital broadcast streams, today announced a partnership for trials of PBS enhanced programming in four episodes of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS airing on local PBS stations beginning March 27. The announcement was made at the PBS Interactive TV Workshop.

The trials will be the first digital terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcast of interactive TV enhancements using the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) Transport Type B specification. ATVEF Transport B allows the enhanced content to be broadcast with the program, rather than requiring a connection to the Internet, thereby speeding up the delivery of the enhancements to the viewer.

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). Enhanced streams with additional information about the program will be placed within each episode of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS beginning with "The Bionic Body." Program-related enhancements will be encoded and distributed via satellite through PBS to member stations. Additional enhancements, customized to local audiences, will be inserted into the local broadcast of each participating station.

"The SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS iTV trials demonstrate PBS' vision to seamlessly blend local and national content through digital television," said Cindy Johanson, senior vice president, PBS Interactive. "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."

Triveni Digital's SkyScraper data broadcasting systems will be used by PBS and the seven participating stations. The SkyScraper DataFab provides tools for a content provider like PBS to schedule, insert, and manage enhanced data securely.

The SkyScraper DataHub provides the broadcaster tools to allocate and manage bandwidth usage. The DataHub may transfer IP packets to an IP-MPEG2 gateway, which encapsulates them into MPEG2 transport packets and hands them off to the broadcast mux; or the DataHub may encapsulate the data into MPEG2 packets itself and hand them directly to the broadcast multiplexor. The multiplexor and transmitter merge the data packets with the video program(s) and broadcast the complete transport stream.

"The ability to add enhancements to programming, whether on a national, regional or local basis, is of extreme importance to the television industry, as broadcasters search for new content and business models to support their transition to digital television," said Mark Simpson, president of Triveni Digital. "Whether for educational or commercial use, being able to provide easy-to-navigate enhanced programming, without requiring the viewer to be connected to the Internet, will be one of the driving forces of digital television for both broadcaster and viewer."

Zenith is supplying the ATVEF-enabled digital television set-top boxes for 100 trial participants across the various markets. The set-top boxes will receive the over-the-air Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) broadcast, display the program information and user viewable enhancement information, and store the program enhancements for use by the viewer either during the program or at a later time.

Other partners in the project include The Chedd-Angier Production Company, producing SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS and the enhanced content; Wavexpress, providing an e-commerce and interactive television platform; Agilent Technologies, producing an enhanced underwriting message; and Nielsen Media Research, conducting viewer research and analysis.

About PBS:
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

About Triveni Digital:
Triveni Digital, Inc. develops digital television broadcast products, focusing on equipment for management of enhanced data and metadata in digital broadcast streams. Triveni's current products for ATSC PSIP, data broadcasting, stream analysis and monitoring are renowned for their ease of use and innovative features. Triveni's custom solutions enable the rapid deployment of solutions for data broadcast applications. Working with leading industry partners, Triveni Digital employs an open and standards-compliant approach to the digital television market to enable new revenue streams via data and meta-data to the broadcast, cable and satellite industry. More information on Triveni Digital, a subsidiary of LG Electronics, is available at

About Chedd-Angier
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


Kevin Dando

Ellen Veden