ABC readies 3-channel IPTV trial

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SYDNEY -- The Australian Broadcasting Corp. will be the first Australian broadcaster to launch its own IPTV service, with a three-channel trial for 5,000 users beginning March 26, ABC announced this week.

ABC Innovations, the pubcaster's digital division, will launch the service, which also includes the establishment of a new 24-hour Continuous News Center from ABC News. ABC Shop Downloads will offer new download-to-own and download-to-rent versions of ABC programs, along with the launch of 60 new online sites for ABC's radio stations.

The IPTV service, similar in concept to the BBC's iPlayer and named ABC Playback, will initially have three ABC-branded channels available to users on ADSL2+ connections or faster, free for users around the country.

They include ABC Catch Up, which will allow users to watch full-screen, full-length programs that screened on ABC TV during the week; ABC Real, showing ABC natural history programs and general documentaries; and ABC Shop, showing programs available for purchase as digital downloads from the ABC Shop site.

A full service for public use will launch later this year, when additional channels, including an ABC News broadband channel will debut.

"ABC Playback is about the future of broadcasting. Many new habits and technologies are forming around this time and ABC Playback offers early adopters a novel way to watch full length ABC programs on the big screens, be they computer monitors or LCD TVs," said Sam Doust, ABC Innovations creative director and one of the team responsible for the design of the technology for the new applications.

ABC Innovations also has built a new online presence for the ABC Shop that launches March 18. It puts the ABC ahead of most other broadcasters here by providing fee downloads of ABC TV shows in cases in which the rights are available.
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