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NHS Direct Launched On Freeview Using Technology From S&T

Strategy & Technology Limited (S&T), specialists in interactive TV playout systems and MHEG middleware, has announced that NHS Direct Interactive – the UK’s health information service – has extended its interactive TV reach with its launch on UK digital terrestrial service Freeview using technology supplied by S&T.

The NHS Direct Interactive service on Freeview provides the latest news on current health issues, answers to common health questions and feature articles about long-term health conditions. By launching on Freeview a further 6.4 million households can access the service via their TV sets in addition to the 8.4 million households already able to access it via Sky’s digital satellite TV subscription platform.

The new NHS Direct Interactive service uses capacity within Sky Text on Freeview, Sky’s digital teletext service. S&T was contracted by Sky to extend the existing MHEG-5 middleware-based teletext system to allow the addition of the 150-page information service. A new virtual channel – channel 108 – allows direct access to NHS Direct and Sky Text.

As noted, in supporting the initial deployment of NHS Direct on Freeview, Sky is hosting the service on its Sky Text platform. The agreement between Sky and NHS Direct saw the service made available on Sky Text - on Freeview – from December, 20 2006 and it will run until March 31, 2007.

Deploying its world-renowned MHEG expertise, S&T has created additional templates and scenes that provide NHS Direct branding and layout of pages. The content is provided by NHS Direct as an XML feed. That is then processed through a SysMedia Plasma Gold content management and production system and broadcast using S&T’s TSBroadcaster and TSPlayer playout systems.

“We have adapted and extended the branding, look and feel of the Sky Text system in order to launch NHS Direct on Freeview. The system was exhaustively tested prior to launch on our set-top box farm at our new London offices,” explained S&T Director of International Sales Colin Prior.

NHS Direct says that 75% of people who use the service will do so via the internet or digital TV services.
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