Television industry is emerging into new era in providing the better services to the customers. With the built around two-way interactive technologies, the digital television (DTV) infrastructure opens up new history in communication system. The two totally different worlds which were barely connected – television and the Internet – are now combining into an entirely new entity: which is interactive television. There are two specific terms which are commonly used to define the advanced television environment: interactive television and enhanced television. Throughout the whole text, we will use the term interactive television (ITV) to describe anything that allows a customer engages with the system by a remote control or keyboard usage in order to access the newest and advanced services. Also, interactive television (generally as ITV) defines as numerous number of techniques that allows the consumers to interact with the television contents. General purposes can be categorized into the following:
On-line chatting and do emailing
Stock market data, this includes personal investment portfolio performance in real time
Ability to select the desired movies for viewing purposes at home
News story selection and archive
Enhanced sports scores and statistics on selective basis
Purchase everything by on-line real-time, this includes groceries to software to electrical appliances without leaving house
A continuum from low interactivity (TV whether on/off, volume, changing channels) to moderate scale (movies-on-demand without changing channels) till high scale interactivity, for instances program viewer affects the show that being watched are represented by interactive television. It was obviously shown in any kind of real-time voting on the screen, in which viewers vote to make decisions that will subsequently affects how the shows continues.
TELEVISON PROVIDER IN MALAYSIA
There are numerous number of subscription providers available, with the different numbers of channels, special communication techniques for instance, program guide (EPG), high-definition (HD), video on demand (VOD), interactive television via the red button and coverage across Malaysia. These services are basically received by set-top boxes. However, households viewing TV from internet in Malaysia are not monitored and tracked by the government.
Figure 1: Service providers in Malaysia
MALAYIA TELEVISION CONTECTION AND COVERAGE
Driven by rapid change in delivery and content platforms, the Malaysian television market grows tremendously. Malaysians were largely depend on free to air (FTA) broadcasts without any significant cable infrastructure and relatively limited broadband access, until ASTRO TV service was introduced in 1996 back then. Satellite pay television is therefore concentrate in expanding its addition content and programming options. The pay media boasts until more than 100 channel beamed to some 2m consumers.
Even through there are tremendous growth in pay-media, FTA channels (which offered via satellite too) stay as the most popular stations in Malaysia market. According to 2007 Nielsen survey, 9.3% of respondents watched one out of six FTS channels the previous day. Government-owned Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) owns TV1 and TV2 while Media Prima works on the four channels remaining.
Right after MiTV made an unsuccessful attempt to emerge the market by using wireless internet protocol over ultra high frequency (UHF), it is retooling for new mobile broadband delivery system after the winning a 3G licence recently. The Government has also initiated several test programs for digital television broadcasts and by 2015, plans to phase out analogue transmissions as whole. Trial broadcasts were undergoing, and this involves a thousand households in Klang Valley from September 2006 till February 2007. Trial of digital transmissions received positive feedback from the consumers, this is according to Deputy Minister of Information, Chia Kwang Chye. More than 60 percent said that the quality of signal transmitted scaled from good to very good, more than 88 percent thought that the picture quality improved, and more than 70 percent said that sound quality was better. As part of the three years reconstructing process, RTM is assumed to be totally digitization by 2012. Every household in Malaysia, when once equipped with the necessary equipment(set top box or known as iDTV set), is expected to receive more than 19 channels, which seven of them fall under RTM and others for private broadcasters such as Media Prima which owns TV3, ntv7, 8TV and TV9. Besides simulating TV1 and TV2, RTM is also test-airing RTMi, Arena and Muzik Aktif on digital platform, by transmitting at UHF channel 44, modulated at 64QAM.
Figure 2: Digital TV set-top box
HISTORY OF INTERACTIVE TELEVISION IN MALAYSIA
In Malaysia, development of technology received considerable attention during the Mahathir Era from the year of 1982 till 2003. In order to transform Malaysia into a fully developed country by early of the year 2020, Vision 2020 was developed. Due to this, a mega project known as the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) was launched in 1996. In conjunction with this mega project, Malaysia’s satellite television was first introduced in 1996, which is ASTRO. ASTRO utilized Direct to User Service (D.T.U) and is broadcast as high powered KU Band transmission using the transponder of the MEASAT. Currently, the subscription based service is currently operating from Bukit Jalil. This service can be received by utilizing a fixed 60 cm diameter dish antenna and a decoder. Signals are encoded and encrypted prior to transmission, in order to form a conditional access subscriber service, and therefore allow the access only for subscribers with decoder and authorized smartcard.
Figure 3: Astro logo (1996-2003)
Figure 4: Both old (bottom) and new (top) Astro satellite dish or mini-dish.
INTERACTIVE SERVICES BY PROVIDERS IN MALAYSIA
ASTRO has then initiated more sophisticated viewing experience for the customers. This is known as interactive and multimedia services through the convergence and divergence of the existing ‘old’ and ‘new’ media technologies. Recently, there are various interactive TV and multimedia services that include games, video on demand (pay preview), chatting, stock link, Short Messaging System (SMS), internet banking and icon download which were not available previously.
Short Messaging System (SMS) through television programs is one of the most successful interactive services that were achieved thus far in Malaysia television industry. SMS technology was utilized by ASTRO in the year of 2003 as the introduction of Akademi Fantasia, a local musical program that copied from Mexico. Maxis was chosen as the sole service provider for the interactive activity via the program. Maxis, Malaysia’s leading Telecommunications Company, which also partly owned by ASTRO. Throughout Akademi Fantasia, for the first time ever television audiences were allowed to send in their votes to decide on the winner of the competition.
In year of 2000, interactive SMS technology was become a joint venture project between Microsoft and ASTRO. Microsoft had made an equity investment in ASTRO in order to helping and developing interactive internet and content in ASTRO. This has proven a critical success as it attracted more audience to tune-in into their channel. This was shown as in the first season of Akademi Fantasia in 2003, it was raked in RM 2.5 million profits through the votes made by audience.
Figure 5: SMS transactions of interactive service by ASTRO
This trend has also influenced other television stations in Malaysia, such as RTM, TV 3, 8tv, ntv7, and tv9 to use interactive technology to attract more viewers, and therefore increasing revenue. Since then, both imported and locally produced television programs, utilized SMS interactive activities, for instances, reality TV shows, musicals, dramas, and even local television news. There is also live radio broadcast, with kind of live, in-studio programming, coupled with an on-screen chat room that the users could interact with via SMS. To top it off also, there is a large chunk of screen for mobile ringtones and wallpapers.
In mobile content, with the burgeoning penetration of new generation of mobile phone, there is more demand for better entertainment content drives the growth of it. ASTRO provides customers new experience with the streaming of 2.5G video and the launch of 3G services. Besides CNBC and HITZ.TV, when 3G launches, ASTRO offers CNN, Cartoon Network, highlights of hit shows as well as exclusive English Premier League matches to mobile handsets. In addition, STK WAP technology provides a platform for SMS content and services for example cinema information and movie bookings, other info-on-demand and gaming. This service generated 36 million SMS transactions in 2004.
Mobile games on TV debuted on ASTRO @PLAY in March 2004, was the first initiative in Malaysia. This therefore made great contribution to SMS activity through games while @15 and HIT. TV, which is the SMS-TV chat channels contributed strongly to the ITV business, with roughly around 8.3 million chat messages chalked for the year.
TV 9 is a free-to-air private owned television station in Malaysia, which is owned fully by Media Prima Berhad. Interactive television feature is introduced by TV9, which allows audiences to interact and communicate via Short Messaging System (SMS) while music video displaying. The element is available from 11 am until noon and from midnight till 1 in the morning. This is consequently in the year of 2004, TV9 announced its strategic partnershio with WAP Portal Sdn Bhd and Mobileway-Inphomatch, the leading provider of global mobile messaging interoperability and added value for mobile information services, in subsequently to deliver interactive mobile applications for its new SMS-MMS segment, known as Mobile9. The project is launched on 15 August 2007, where audiences can involve themselves in interactive activities on Mobile9, for instances like chatting, contests, downloading via SMS, polling and sharing their MMS pictures while watching TV programs. “Channel 9 is continuously exploring the best alternative to make sure that the right customer experience for our products and services. We want to offer customers the best services which are relevant, exciting and will definitely enhance their lifestyle,” said by Encik Abdul Aziz Hamdan, the Chief Executive Officer, Channel 9. Broadcasting of TV9 under (Ultra High) Frequency. The UHF channel is 42 in Klang Valley, and with weaker transmission at 33 in certain area of Klang valley. TV9 is available on Malaysia satellite provider ASTRO via Channel 119.
The third subscription based TV station in Malaysia, FineTV, utilizes an a- la- carte approach, which is a total interactive approach (video-on-demand), allows viewers to design their own television program or scheduling. Recently, FineTV is offering 18 television channels from serial drama, reality tv show, education, music video, game show, sports and cartoon are available upon viewers’ selection or request.
RED BUTTON TECHNOLOGY BY ASTRO
Interactive advertising can be done available via one-way or broadcast television, in the form of either red or green button advertising. For more inner explanation, red button advertising will be relied more on content delivered via broadcast, by pressing the red button on the remote control by the customers, they are able to find out more specific advert. Satellite service Sky in United Kingdom and ASTRO in Malaysia provides the service of Red Button Advertising. Meantime, green button advertising enables viewers to book advert by using remote control, this is followed by the viewing of a clip inside the broadcast stream, in order to record them on their PVR. With that expanded advert (which could be the program length), is then able to be viewed by the consumer with full leisure. Furthermore, the interactive Red Button is another first product in Malaysia market also, was launched in June 2004 with over 10,000 hours of extended programming introduced over subsequent months. Important features of its activity included live vote updates for AF over Astro Ria and ASTRO @15 channels, ITV advertising for Coca Cola and DHL, distribution of mobile downloads and Summer Olympics.
In May 2005 also, ASTRO launched their broadband portal, ASTRO. Tv, starting off with two channels on demand and favourite content: Akademi Fantasia 3 and English soccer, over the internet. With paying certain amount of subscription fee, a broadband users can watch live concert via webcast, enhanced video feed on AF3 daily developments, archived materials and auditions from earlier AF seasons. Besides, another separated GoalTv for sport channel, also provides streaming of trivia, commentary, analysis and matches on the top English soccer teams in order to delight the avid sports fan. The Star featured that in order to accommodate more “live” BPL coverage, a new sport channel, which is known that Astro SuperSport 3 (Ch 817) had been introduced. Due to this features, subscribers are able to watch al least eight live matches per week. And for a limited period also, iPhone users are able to download Astro’s B. player application to watch games for free.
Lister. M et. al (2003:20) defined that interactive means more powerful sense of consumer engagement with media text, individualized media usage, a more independent relation for the source of knowledge and greater user choice in selection.
Video on demand concept was initiated by ASTRO which allows customers to make selection from its pay per view package that consists of blockbuster and sporting events. Mitv also provides similar mode, where Mitv is the second subscription based television. The concept is known as ‘Affordable Transaction’, offers video on demand, games-on-demand, e-learning-on-demand and music-on-demand for its subscribers.
There does not need much explanation why ITV is gaining momentum – and will continue its trend as new technologies take control. This is due to the backbone for ITV growth comes from both the market strength of the Internet. In addition to that , with the rapid growth of digital video technology that took place in the cable, satellite, and terrestrial broadcasting industries, the world is now prepare for the creation of an ITV segment which meet the requirement of tests of sound economic principles. This is therefore introduced to mass customer market to a whole new range of opportunities. Interactive television in Malaysia depends on the implementation of digital terrestrial television. Despite RTM’s trial was a success, there is an uncertainty in the growth of the digital terrestrial television transition, significantly after the end of Abdullah Badawi’s tenure as Prime Minister.
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