Claiming that interactive television applications and content are riddled with too many proprietary elements, two separate groups are pushing new open standards for iTV production based on extensible markup language, or XML.

The first is based on a baseline standard spec initially developed by iTV provider GoldPocket Interactive, outlined in a white paper at Using XML, the spec establishes a method for presentation description of content produced for interactive programs and specifies the timing and content of "interactive assets" such as trivia games and interactive advertising.

Comprised of iTV and interactive production companies, middleware vendors and programmers, the GoldPocket initiative believes iTV, sans standards, is hindering the rollout of the technology. To combat that problem, the companies behind the effort have proposed a way to enable studios and other content providers to write interactive content once for distribution on all "major" set-tops and PC platforms.

The group claims that the standard will support middleware from leading providers such as Liberate Technologies, OpenTV Corp., Microsoft Corp., PowerTV, AOLTV, and UltimateTV, as well as PCs and Macs.

The advisory board for the iTV standards assembly is comprised of AOL Vice President Carlos Silva Jr.; Game Show Network Senior Vice President John Roberts; Turner Broadcasting Vice President of Multimedia Chris Pizzurro; Dick Clark Productions Senior Vice President of Television R.A. Clark; Lions Gate Entertainment Business Development Director Adrian Sexton; Beyond Z Interactive Media CEO Karen Lennon; and Cylo Inc. President Kirt Gunn. GoldPocket Vice President of Product Management Martijn Lopes Cardozo is chairing the committee.

The second group, the TVXML Forum, is headed up by multimedia software and services company Comverse and its TV Gate messaging division, which has developed an iTV platform that will serve as the forum's standard baseline.

That TVXML Forum is expected to make its formal launch at this month's National Cable Show in New Orleans.