29 February 2008

S4C to launch new block of kids’ programmes

S4C will significantly increase its broadcasting hours from June with the launch of a new block of programming for nursery age children. The station will start broadcasting from 07:00 (rather than noon) to broadcast a six-and-a-half hour block of shows for pre-schoolers. Last year, the Welsh broadcaster launched a consultation on kids television, suggesting a proposal to launch a dedicated children’s channel. The channel could utilise sister channel S4C Two for programming aimed at older children, which will be extended in ‘phase 2’ of the channel’s plan.

27 February 2008

NAO: Switchover budget £250million too high

The National Audit Office (NAO) has claimed that out of the budget for switchover assistance – £603million, to be funded via the licence fee – up to £250million could be left over at the end. The figure is based on the switchover process in Whitehaven, in which only one-third of eligible applicants applied for financial assistance with the cost of converting to digital. Their report also warns that not enough is being done to warn viewers that video recorders will also need to be upgraded.

26 February 2008

Bulletin: Setanta cricket and DRM-free PS3 TV

After a frantic start to the year, it’s been a bit quiet in the world of DTT news this week. Setanta Sports have snapped up the rights to the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition. All 59 games from the tournament, which runs from April to the beginning of June, will be shown live and/or in primetime. Setanta are looking to add more summer sports to their line-up as the end of the football season approaches (and subscribers consider dropping the service for a few months). Meanwhile, Sony have confirmed that their upcoming “PlayTV” PS3-PVR device will allow users to transfer recordings to other devices with ease, because it will not use any form of DRM.

19 February 2008

The Hits to be re-branded 4Music this year

Channel 4 will re-brand The Hits as 4Music later this year. Rumours last year suggested that the broadcaster would re-name the music channel last month. It has now been revealed that the change will occur later this year, when The Hits’ airtime sales contract with Sky expires. 4Music-branded programming will be shown on the channel from March.

16 February 2008

Sony launch Freeview add-on for PlayStation 3

As deeteetee.co.uk reported in July last year, Sony are to release an accessory for the PlayStation 3 which adds Freeview PVR functionality to the games console. The twin tuner device, called PlayTV, connects to the machine’s USB port, and allows gamers to stream live television to their PlayStation Portable (PSP) device. A software update, currently under development, will allow the device to record programmes even when the console is being used to play games.

12 February 2008

Rollercoaster week for digital radio

Digital radio has been dominating the headlines this week. GCap Media have decided to scrap DAB stations the Jazz and Planet Rock, leaving the future of DAB looking slightly less rosy than before. Stations Core and Oneword closed earlier this year. Meanwhile, Bauer (who bought out Emap’s stations last month) are considering launching their new station Closer on Freeview. A spin-off from the magazine of the same name, the station is due to launch on the new national DAB multiplex, but that’s been delayed and Bauer are keen to launch soon. They are also planning on re-launching Q (Freeview channel 716).

08 February 2008

Ex-Digital UK chief: public deserve more services

The former head of Digital UK (the body responsible for overseeing switchover), Ford Ennals, believes that spectrum freed-up by the switchover process should be used to provide more digital services. Speaking at a conference to discuss the successful switchover in Copeland: “The public should reap the benefits in the form of additional services. They see it as a by-product of the investment they have made in switchover”.

05 February 2008

CITV channel moves to multiplex A

The CITV channel has moved to multiplex A. The channel will remain on Freeview channel 75, but viewers will need to re-scan their digital receivers in order to continue watching the service… unless they receive the channel from a Welsh transmitter, in which case they will no longer be able to get the children’s channel from today. The move allows ITV4 to broadcast all day from tomorrow.

Emap radio stations change hands

Emap’s radio stations – identifiable on Freeview as those which share the same digital radio MHEG screen, and which include Smash Hits!, Magic and Q – are now operated by Bauer following their sale last year.

04 February 2008

Wales to lose CITV channel

Viewers in Wales will no longer be able to receive the CITV channel from tomorrow, February 5. The children’s channel will be moving into the space vacated by the defunct ABC1, which was also unavailable from transmitters carrying S4C. The “equivalent” slot in Wales is used by Bid TV between the same hours, 06:00 to 18:00. The move allows ITV4 to broadcast 24 hours a day nationwide.

02 February 2008

DTG condemns Ofcom’s HD plans

The Digital Television Group has condemned Ofcom’s proposals for squeezing High Definition services on to Freeview. Back in November, Ofcom revealed they would not be reserving any extra spectrum for HD channels, and instead suggested converting one multiplex (B) in a HD-only service using a new broadcast format (such as DVB-T2). Channels currently carried on B would then be slotted into free slots on other (already pretty full) muxes. The DTG have argued that this idea is highly flawed, as it could jeopardise any future developments, and because it relies on assumed advances in technology, rather than tried-and-tested methods.