26 June 2007

Ofcom launch Sky subscription plan consultation

11:20 - Ofcom have launched a consultation into Sky’s proposal to replace their three Freeview channels with a subscription service on DTT. In a change to their original plan, the broadcaster no longer plans to use the more efficient MPEG-4 system, which would require new set top box purchases. Ofcom expect the consultation’s findings to be published in the Autumn, followed by an official statement early next year. Until then, Sky are obliged to keep their Freeview channels on the air.
13:15 - Sky have hit back at Ofcom, questioning the need for a consultation, confirming that they still plan to launch a four-channel service, and that they have not ruled out using MHEG-4.

Changes afoot on multiplex B

Multiplex B will no longer carry the Engineering Channel from July 2. The channel, which broadcasts software updates for receivers to download, will remain on multiplex 1. Several theories surround what the move signifies: the BBC could be moving their radio stations not currently on one of their multiplexes to B, for example.

20 June 2007

Freeview overtakes Sky in digital homes

Ofcom’s quarterly report on digital television in the UK has revealed that Freeview-only homes have overtaken those subscribing to Sky for the first time. Between January and March, Freeview households rose from 7.7 million to 8.4 million, thanks to sales of 1.96 million Freeview receivers. Sky has just over 8 million subscribers, and saw the number of new customers added in the period drop below those of cable (Virgin Media) for the first time since 2001. More than 80% of homes now have access to digital television.

19 June 2007

Ofcom will charge for “gifted capacity” in 2014

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will all be charged an annual administered incentive pricing fee for their digital television and radio spectrum from 2014. Ofcom say the measure – which could see the BBC paying £48 million each year for its two Freeview multiplexes – will improve efficiency by discouraging wasting capacity… in reality this will most likely lead to a deterioration in quality as broadcasters attempt to squeeze all they can out of the bandwidth they can afford.

Channel 4+1 to launch on Freeview

Brand Republic report that Channel 4+1 will launch on all digital platforms in August in an attempt to boost advertising revenues. It is not known at this stage where the capacity for the service will come from.

15 June 2007

The Premier League

Following yesterday’s announcement of the Premier League football fixtures for next season, the marketing campaigns for television coverage of the Premiership have begun: both Setanta Sports and BT Vision have adverts in national newspapers this morning, and Top Up TV are pushing their service off the back of Setanta’s rights.

14 June 2007

Bulletin: Kangaroo

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are in talks to develop a “one-stop shop” TV downloads service, codenamed Project Kangaroo. It is claimed the service will do for broadband “what Freeview did for digital TV”, and could be available via broadband-enabled Freeview receivers in the future. Also today, Top Up TV are running a special offer in conjunction with The Mirror, with the Top Up TV+ box available for only £100.

13 June 2007

Bulletin: Setanta freeviews

Setanta Sports will broadcast on Freeview between 19:00 and 22:00 until June 22 to give non-subscribers a taste of what the channel has to offer (and a chance to judge for yourselves what the picture quality is like). In other news, two more Freeview channels have been confirmed: TVNZ6 will launch in September and TVNZ7 will follow in March 2008. Sorry, should have said that’s on Freeview in New Zealand.

12 June 2007

Bulletin: Goal...accio!

The Guardian reports that Virgin are playing down suggestions that Virgin 1 – the new 18:00 to 06:00 channel to be launched on Freeview – is a “knee-jerk reaction” to the cable firm losing carriage of Sky One. They also report that Five have bought the rights to live games and highlights from the Italian Seria A football league starting this autumn.

11 June 2007

Virgin 1 to launch on Freeview

Broadcast reports that Virgin will launch a new general entertainment channel, Virgin 1, on Freeview this Autumn. It will replace FTN, which currently acts as a shop window for Virgin’s subscription channels on satellite and cable. Unlike Sky, who want to take their channels subscription-only, it would appear that Virgin now want to directly challenge Sky One with the new free-to-view channel: Virgin Media Television’s MD wants Virgin 1 and the newly reinvigorated Living to be two of the top 10 TV channels by switchover”.

Report: As Switchover looms, questions remain

The Guardian newspaper (which incidentally publishes its 50,000th issue today) has published a special report on the dispute between broadcasters, Ofcom, lobby groups and manufacturers as to what to do with the freed-up spectrum released by the switchover process. You can read the article, ‘Access All Aerials’ by clicking here.

02 June 2007

BBC HD trial channel closes on DTT

BBC HD has ceased broadcasting from the Crystal Palace transmitter in London. The BBC’s trial channel continues to broadcast on satellite and cable, following the BBC Trust’s decision to begin a public value test into a full launch of the service: on DTT, however, the 12-month licence to broadcast the channel has now expired. If approved, HD programming could be broadcast on multiplex B overnight, providing a HD “catch-up” service to viewers with compatible equipment.