Following Sun Microsystems Inc’s acquisition of Diba Inc and its interactive internet technology last month (CI No 3,216), there was some doubt about the future of Sun’s interactive television joint venture with Thomson Multimedia SA, Thomson Sun Interactive LLC, and Sun has duly reduced its stake by selling a 44% stake to pay TV company Myriad International Holdings Inc. MIH’s stake equals that of Thomson Multimedia, and leaves Sun still involved, but with only a 12% holding. The company will change its name to OpenTV Inc, and is gearing up for a major contract worth more than $15m with the UK’s new digital TV venture British Interactive Broadcasting. The board of the Mountain View, California-based Thomson Multimedia SA and Sun Microsystems Inc spin-off has been restructured and strengthened, with a new management team headed by chief executive Jan Steenkamp. This team’s initial focus will be to oversee the implementation of the company’s OpenTV interactive software for the launch of British Interactive Broadcasting, the UK joint venture of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc and British Telecommunications Plc that plans to launch digital television services in the middle of next year (CI No 3,156). British Interactive Broadcasting will use the OpenTV software in its set-top boxes, as well as OpenTV’s Open Author authoring tools for content production, to enable interactive services such as home banking, shopping, travel information, public information and games. Director of marketing Jon Haas says the management restructuring reflects the company’s transition from a young technology company to a mature, marketing-led organization. OpenTV already has a number of sales in Europe, and says it is in serious talks with major US players, although it has yet to announce a sale there.
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