German platform operators don’t have to distribute TV channels’ HbbTV services on their networks as they are not considered to be part of the programme content. This decision was made by the German media authorities’ licencing and supervision commission ZAK at its latest assembly in Saarbrücken.
In a formal process lodged at the media authorities, public broadcaster ARD complained that cable operator Kabel Deutschland filters out the HbbTV signal ahead of cable carriage of several ARD channels. This would infringe the signal integrity stipulated in the German broadcast law. The HbbTV signal activates the red button on the corresponding TV channel. This enables viewers, for example, to access add-on services through the remote control such as the channel’s catch-up service. According to ZAK, the HbbTV signal is, however, neither technically nor with regards to content part of the transport stream of the broadcast signal. The term “programme” in the broadcast law only covers the actual broadcast content – video and sound -, but not further services just accompanying the programmes, argue the media regulators.