31 March 2008

Regional multiplexes C and D planned?

National Grid Wireless has appointed a new Service Information Manager for it’s two digital terrestrial television multiplexes (C and D) which could enable the broadcasting of regional services. In other words, they’ve spent some money on a machine that will let them show different things on multiplex C or D in different parts of the country. At the moment, this can only be done on multiplexes 1, 2 and A (mainly for showing regional programming on the BBC and ITV, as well as regional advertising for the big commercial broadcasters).

30 March 2008

Digital now in 9 out of 10 households

87.6% of UK households now have access to multi-channel television, the majority through digital TV, according to the latest Ofcom report. Sales of Freeview in the last three months of 2007 were higher than ever, with around 4million receivers sold.

27 March 2008

More households to get commercial muxes

Ofcom have published details about the availability of commercial multiplexes after switchover. The figures show that the proportion of UK households able to receive multiplexes A, C and D will rise to "around 90%" (up from 75% now). The cost to commercial multiplex owners and broadcasters of extending their reach to all households able to receive digital television (expected to be 98.6%) is simply too high.

Towns could lose terrestrial TV after switchover

Changes in television transmitter patterns could leave up to 250,000 households without any form of terrestrial television signal after the digital switchover, according to Ofcom. Although the changes will provide approximately the same number of homes with signals they could not receive before, residents of Ardrossan in Ayrshire and Skelmersdale in Lancashire face losing out unless new (as yet unplanned) transmitters are built.

21 March 2008

ITV advertise new capacity on Mux A

SDN (owned by ITV plc) is inviting broadcasters to bid for new capacity on multiplex A (which it operates). Up to "1Mb of capacity" is up for grabs – so not quite enough for a new TV channel, but plenty for radio or interactive services. The deadline for proposals to be submitted by is Monday 7th April 2008. It is likely that the capacity will be made available immediately.

20 March 2008

Five Life to become Fiver next month

Five will re-brand their female-orientated lifestyle channel Five Life as Fiver at the end of April. The aim is to make the channel, launched in October 2006, "younger, faster [and] louder".

18 March 2008

Teletext Games becomes Teletext Casino

Teletext Games has been re-named Teletext Casino on the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide today. None of the games have changed, nor the channel number (103), just the title.

14 March 2008

BT plan new Vision services

BT will be making a "significant investment" into new applications for the BT Vision Freeview-plus-broadband service over the next year. New games and shopping services are expected.

HD on Freeview plans crippled by indecision

The likelihood of seeing high definition channels becoming available via Freeview – or at least a plan to facilitate their introduction – appears pretty remote at present. The delegates at last week’s DTG summit all had their own ideas about how HD on DTT should work, with the result being confusion and indecision all round. The plans range from the technically-ambitious to the unnecessarily-complicated: all have proven to be controversial. Click here for a Digital Spy article on the subject.

12 March 2008

Transmitter tower owners get merger go-ahead

The Competition Commission has given Arqiva and National Grid Wireless – the UK’s biggest broadcasting transmitter tower operators – the green light to go ahead with their proposed merger, but with conditions attached. These include offering immediate reductions in carriage costs for channels broadcasting on low-power DTT multiplexes of over 3%. NGW is a shareholder in the Freeview consortium.

Top Up TV change encryption cards

Top Up TV customers will be sent new viewing cards over the next few weeks. Judging by the picture on the Top Up TV website, it would appear that the subscription service will be switching to the NagraVision encryption method after April.

11 March 2008

Freeview enjoys bumper Christmas boom

Sales of Freeview receivers – including digital television sets, personal video recorders and set-top boxes – broke 3.8million in the last three months of 2007, according to the latest figures. The record-breaking sales figures contributed to record sales for the year as a whole, which totalled 9.7million. For the first time, the number of people purchasing Freeview Playback devices outstripped the number of new subscribers to Sky+ last year, but the satellite box still leads the market overall.

Bulletin: Lotto launches, Bloomberg leaves

National Lottery Xtra officially launched on Freeview yesterday, according to the Top Up TV website. The channel broadcasts between 08:45 and 09:45 on channel 45 every day. In other news, and earlier than previously announced, Bloomberg has been removed from the Top Up TV Anytime service.

08 March 2008

DTG propose SFN HD multiplexes plan

The Digital Television Group, who slammed Ofcom’s plans to squeeze HD channels onto a vacated multiplex B last month, have put forward their own radical plans to launch high-definition channels on Freeview. Their suggestion involves the creation of two entirely new multiplexes, to be broadcast as single-frequency networks (SFNs, i.e. broadcast on the same frequency nationwide) which could carry 12 HD stations between them, rising to 40 (yes, forty) as technologies improved.

07 March 2008

Hauppauge unveil portable Freeview player

Hauppauge launched their first portable media player at the CeBIT computer expo this week, and it contains a Freeview tuner with EPG and text. The device has a 3½-inch screen, weighs 200g and will apparently cost around £115 when it goes on sale in April.

Teletext apologise for faulty programme guide

Teletext have apologised to viewers affected by an “intermittent” fault in the Teletext Extra electronic programme guide. The guide is only accessible from certain brands of set-top boxes which receive the necessary software via an over-the-air download. An estimated 3.5million receivers currently use the service, of which Teletext say only a “small proportion” are affected by the problems.

06 March 2008

ITV2 to broadcast 24/7 from March 17

ITV2 (and ITV2+1, not surprisingly) will begin broadcasting for 24 hours a day from March 17. It currently timeshares with GMTV 2, which will move to ITV4 on the same day.

05 March 2008

Bloomberg to leave Top Up TV Anytime

Programming from financial news channel Bloomberg will no longer be available via Top Up TV Anytime from next month, according to an e-mail sent to subscribers. Its Anytime slot – just one hour a week – and the space left vacant by Lottery Xtra will be used by “new channels”. It is likely that the Showcase channel will also be scrapped. Bloomberg originally broadcast in an early-morning slot when Top Up TV launched in March 2004. It was removed as a linear channel in September 2006. There have always been rumours suggesting the channel was looking to broadcast on Freeview, however at present there have been no indications that it will make the switch.

04 March 2008

National Lottery Xtra appears on Freeview

A placeholder for National Lottery Xtra has appeared on Freeview channel 45. The channel, which previously provided programming to Top Up TV Anytime (albeit free content) has switched to multiplex D, and will timeshare with Film4 and Gems TV between 08:45 and 09:45 daily.

01 March 2008

Bad weather delays digital mast build programme

Bad weather, especially the storms Britain experienced last summer, has delayed work to build new digital television masts in preparation for switchover. In the Granada region, which will start analogue switch-off in November 2009, all of the allocated contingency time has already been exhausted: engineers may resort to constructing a temporary mast to ensure the switch’s timetable is adhered to.