The regulator, Ofcom, has blocked plans by the BBC to increase the level of Digital Rights Management (or DRM) used for the upcoming HD broadcasts on the Freeview platform.
The reasoning behind the move being blocked is down to the potential issues relating to ‘fair use’, i.e. being able to record it to set top recorders for watching later. However the BBC said “it remains commited to the launch of HD on Freeview” so they will have to think about their plans again for the platform.
This does not stop the BBC amending their plans and introducing some form of DRM in the future, but it delays it for now. There is limited time to get the plans sorted however, as Freeview plans to launch its first HD service during December from the Winter Hill transmitter which covers the Granada region (North West England).
BT Wholesale has releaved it has been developing a content delivery platform to try and ease the burden on the infrastructure brought on by the increasing usage of web based TV playback systems like the BBC’s iPlayer, 4oD and Five on Demand.
Called “Content Connect” the service is being developed by BT Wholesale with BT Retail and other ISPs trialling it. Currently several thousand users are testing the service with a planned launch next year.
With the uptake of streaming services, providers are needing to find alternative ways to reduce the overall load on their networks, hundreds of users each watching the same program over the internet takes its toll on finite resources. Bringing the content closer to the edge of the network reduces the load on the core infrastructure and will also decrease the time it takes for a user to download a show to watch it.
The ideal answer is to cache the programmes at the Exchange, as close to the user as possible but this would involve co-operation from all ISPs to enable a service like this. Only time will tell what and how this service will work and how much benefit it will give to the end user.
Setanta Sports has ceased accepting new subscribers to its subscription based broadcasting. BT Vision has also stopped accepting new users. It continues to broadcast at the current time while talks are underway in an attempt to secure a rescue package.
Talks are currently underway to try and secure more funding for Setanta. BSkyB have refused a £50 million lifeline that would save Setanta, they are currently looking at other ways to secure the needed funding.
Virgin Media, who also broadcast Setanta channels on the cable network are “monitoring” the current situation closely.
Channel 5 and PartyGaming (PRTY – http://www.google.co.uk/finance?client=ob&q=LON:PRTY) have announced a deal to create a new bingo and casino service.
Scheduled to launch in the next 6 months, this new service will come under Five’s branding but be run and managed by PartyGaming.
Will this channel join Five’s other 3 on Freeview, will it be a Sky / Cable only channel or will this join Five’s online presence, including Demand Five and FiveFwd. Will this just end up being another annoying channel to clutter up the airwaves? Personally, I’m not a fan of ‘gaming’ type channels or the shopping ones, a waste of bandwidth if you ask me.
Along with the announcement about its back catalogue being available, Channel 4 has announced it is closing its download version of 4oD. Deciding to concentrate purely on the Flash based version, as used for its Catch Up system.
All programmes will be available free of charge to UK residents and the download application will be closed once all content has been transferred to the web.
Channel 4 has announced that it will be adding its back catalogue of programmes to its 4 on Demand (4oD) service. http://www.channel4.com/4od/
It will be adding more than 4,000 hours of content, about 10,000 programmes, to the service from July. This is to complement the already existing catch up service that allows you to watch programmes from the previous 30 days.
The content will only be UK shows, and not include series from the US due to legal limitations.
The service is free to use, but is only available for users of Windows based computers currently, unlike the BBC iPlayer which works in your browser.
The Press has been making a lot of noise about the recent decision to screen one of the England World Cup qualifiers exclusively on the internet. The match is being screened online because of the collapse of Pay to View TV provider, Setanta Sports. The FA needed to look for a way to make up the lost revenue because of Setata’s demise.
At a price point of £4.99 to watch the single match, the price point could however put a lot of users off. This is quite steep for a 90 minute game. The service is being provided by streaming provider, Perform. It claims its service will be able to support up to 1 million subscribers, however it hasn’t been tested that far.
While IPTV provides a good way to get TV content out to users, no mater where they are, there are a few issues that come up with it. The quality is going to vary based on the amount of data (the bandwidth) of the connection available, with the average connection in the UK about 2Mb, this should be enough for most streaming, but at peak times the main pipes ISPs use may get congested.
Not only is there the bandwidth to worry about, but also there is monthly usage limits. Gone are the days of completely unlimited connections, we are now stuck with lower and lower caps while providers fight for the cheapest price / most users. Even if your not on a hard capped package, I would say your connection is “subject to fair use” – i.e. if your provider thinks your using too much, you are!
I can’t see many things being IPTV exclusive, however I can see more and more going online, the BBC for an example allow live streaming of some of their channels already through IPlayer. The increase in web based viewing is going to force internet service providers to rethink how they sell their connections, low caps are going to be frequently met with the increase in streaming and videos online.
In a move that closely follows Channel 4’s 4oD service being added to the Youtube streaming site, Channel Five has now agreed a deal with Youtube to put its content on the popular streaming site too.
This will bring hours of Five’s programs to the site, but as yet, not everything. Rights for some US series’ are still being discussed.
The content will be uploaded to the Youtube service shortly after it has finished airing, Five has also announced it plans to support this service by selling advertising space on it.
If your screen has gone blank, this is because this morning analog BBC2 was turned off in the Granada region (Winter Hill) as the start of the digital switchover takes place. From today, more than half a million more viewers will be able to get Freeview for the first time today.
Viewers will need to rescan their boxes / televisions today, and again on December the 2nd when the final part of the switchover takes place, this will be when BBC1, ITV1 Channel 4 and Five’s analog broadcasts are all turned off .
The whole process today should be complete by this afternoon, if you appear to be missing channels rescan again later on.
Sky and Cable viewers will be unaffected by this change.
Has your screen gone blank again?
Unlike The Out Limits, this time you will need to retune your TV.
Phase 2 of the digital switchover for Winter Hill completed successfully, and as part of this Freeview HD has also been enabled from this transmitter.
Currently on the Freeview HD Multiplex that has been created, BBC HD and ITV HD are broadcasting, with 4 HD to follow soon. Currently you’ll need a different TV or set top box to receive these channels.
This completes the digital switchover from Winter Hill and relay transmitters, the analog signal has been completely turned off. If you don’t yet have a freeview box, it really is now time to get one!