30 May 2007

Capita win first Switchover help scheme contract

Capita, the company that collects the TV licence fee, has been awarded the contract to provide help with digital switchover to the residents of Whitehaven, beating three other companies including (as reported earlier this month) BT. From June, the company will provide financial and technical support for the elderly, disabled and poor to make the switch to digital. Switchover begins in the town in October.

29 May 2007

Switchover spectrum sale stalled

Ofcom has been forced to delay its proposals for what it will do with the broadcast frequencies freed up after digital switchover, due to an overwhelming response to its consultation on the matter. Whatever they choose will be controversial - broadcasters want to use it for HD channels, while mobile phone companies are eager to get their hands on it for new features like, erm… mobile television. The results of the consultation will now be released in the Autumn.

25 May 2007

Wales and the North lead digital take-up

The results of Ofcom's 2006 survey show that Wales has the highest proportion of digital television viewers. 82% of homes enjoying digital TV in the principality, followed by 76% in Scotland, 75% in England, and 69% in Northern Ireland. The UK average is 75%. Within England, the North leads take-up of digital with an average of over 78%, compared to London and the South East where the average is around 70%.

24 May 2007

ITV: Lend us a multiplex, Gov!

The chairman of ITV has made an audacious offer to the Government in a bid to secure more DTT capacity. Michael Grade has suggested that Freeview will face a big problem a few years down the line because it doesn’t have the capacity to carry High Definition programming. As a solution, he suggests the Government “loan” ITV (and possibly other commercial broadcasters) more capacity to broadcast using a more efficient transmission system. Once everyone has switched over to the new system, the “old” (existing) Freeview spectrum can be sold off. In other words, it’s digital switchover take two. The idea is completely ridiculous, but you can’t fault him for trying.

22 May 2007

BBC Trust to decide on BBC HD channel

The BBC Trust have launched their “public value test” into the BBC HD channel, currently only available as part of a trial on DTT. If approved, the BBC will officially launch the full service on satellite and cable and an overnight stream of the channel on DTT, using bandwidth from multiplex B (allowing viewers with compatible equipment to record programmes for later viewing). A decision is expected in November. The trial will continue to broadcast until then.

16 May 2007

S4C launch kids channel consultation

As reported earlier in the year, Welsh-language broadcaster S4C is to launch a consultation into launching a children’s channel. The service, which would be available on Freeview in Wales, follows the trend of terrestrial stations shifting kids programmes onto dedicated channels.

Freeview Playback website launched

Freeview Playback, the new brand representing Freeview PVRs, now has its own dedicated website at freeviewplayback.co.uk.

15 May 2007

Sky’s subscription plans dealt blow by Ofcom

A consultation into Sky’s plans to replace its three Freeview channels with a new 4-channel subscription package on DTT have been delayed by the media regulator Ofcom. Three aspects of the proposal are being investigated: the terms of Sky’s broadcast licence; the use of new compression technology; and the plurality of news services available on Freeview: the removal of Sky News from Freeview would leave only one rolling news channel, BBC News 24. In a statement, Ofcom said "Additional information is required before the formal application process can begin. Ofcom has asked the parties to provide this information. When Ofcom has received the information, Ofcom plans to launch a consultation on the proposals."

14 May 2007

Digital UK launch teletext aerial test

Viewers can test the strength of their existing television reception using Digital UK’s new switchover aerial test. Available on page 284 via Ceefax on BBC One and BBC Two, Teletext on ITV1 (analogue) and Channel 4 (analogue), and Sbectel on S4C, the test is designed to predict the suitability of reception for DTT post-switchover.

10 May 2007

BT Vision to launch advertising campaign

BT Vision will unveil it’s first ever marketing campaign at the weekend when television advertisements for the service begin. So far, the Freeview plus broadband service has only been given a “soft-launch” to allow the company to sort out any technical flaws with the service before a high-profile launch later this year.

04 May 2007

BT bid for Switchover assistance contract

The bidders for the contract to operate the BBC’s £600 million switchover help scheme for the elderly, disabled and poor have been revealed. BT, Capita, EAGA and Vertex have all put their names forward: the winner will be decided by the BBC Trust later this year.

01 May 2007

On-screen captions: get ready, Whitehaven

Viewers in Whitehaven, the first place in the UK to switch to digital, will see on-screen captions on all analogue television channels from next week warning them about the switchover. BBC Two analogue will be switched off on October 17, followed by the remaining three analogue channels by November 14.