At the end of the month, a nation wide upgrade of the Freeview digital TV platform will take place to make the signal of Five stronger and to pave the way for Freeview HD later in the year.
On 30th September, every freeview box and television will need to be re-scanned to enable it to continue watching Five correctly.
After retuning, homes will also be able to recieve Quest, a new channel from Discovery Networks International. The upgrade is also in preparation for the start of Freeview HD which will start broadcasting from Winterhill later this year.
In an effort to unify the mix of cable networks that Virgin Media took on as part of the merger between NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile, it has announced a plan to roll out a new IP based TV content delivery platform.
Based on Cisco Digital Video Headend technology it will enable the provider to speed up the content distribution from head office to the localised head ends around the country, it will also enable the easier introduction of new SD and HD content channels as well as saving the operator money in the operation costs of the network.
Upon completetion, the system should allow Virgin Media to provide more advanced services to the customers.
Moving to an IPTV based solution could also mean in the future that off net subscribers (those on Virgin.net ADSL) could potentially get ‘cable’ via their internet connection. Currently Virgin Media has 2 types of network, on net, those connected directly to cable. And Off net, those who aren’t. Being able to unify services between the 2 would allow more customers to be able to receive cable tv.
Sony have confirmed that they will be making the BBC iPlayer available to Playstation Network users in the UK. This comes along with new movie streaming service.
An easy to access link will be added to the menu to access the iPlayer directly, rather than having to go via the browser. I would expect this will be added along with the new Firmware 3.0 which is due out September 1st.
The new movie streaming service, will allow users to buy or rent movies to watch on their PS3 or PSP. Under deals agreed with major movie studios, including 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment this should give users access to a good collection of films to start with.
This move confirms that Sony see the PS3 than more than just a games platform, they see it as a full multimedia platform at the centre of every house.
In a move that mirrors that the government made to help the ailing car industry, today Sony have announced a scrappage scheme of their own.
If you return an old television when you purchase a brand new Sony one, they will give you up to £150 off the price. Sony has said that customers who take advantage of its scheme will get £50 off small Bravia screens, £100 off a 40+ inch screens and £150 off any of its larger screens.
Not only are they doing this to try and reduce the carbon footprint generated by older, more power hungry sets, they are also targeting people who haven’t yet upgraded to a digital ready television.
With the digital switchover for most areas looming, if you haven’t upgraded now could be a good time to do so. With this scheme, it also answers the question of ‘What to do with your old television?’, will more manufacturers follow suit?
While it doesn’t sound very exciting, Freeview are to launch a ‘Retuning Campaign’ to try and get users into the habit of retuning or rescanning their set top boxes or TV’s regularly.
On Freeview, users need to request their TV does a rescan to pic up new channels that are added, or when channels move about. Unlike Sky or Cable, where these changes are sent to the boxes automatically, with the larger range of set top boxes or Freeview receiving equipment this cannot be done so they user needs to do it themselves.
While the retune doesn’t need to happen right away, there will be changes made during September to improve the performance and signal quality of the various Freeview channels, also users will need to be aware that they will have to retune during the digital switchover which is now underway. The next area later this year is that using Winterhill, this will be changed over during October.
It is a simple procedure to complete, but anyone needing any help retuning their box can get support on the Freeview website at http://www.freeview.co.uk/
With more and more content going on various on demand online services and the higher bandwidth requirements for these, ISPs are being forced to take actions to try and control their costs.
It is known that BT controls traffic for the BBC’s iPlayer on certain of their internet packages. Net Neutrality is the principle that the ISPs and network managers should not effect how certain providers or system should run. However, with the high bandwidth requirements for streaming media, some ISPs have gone against this and are controlling traffic to reduce the effect it has on their network. For the end user, this may appear as a lot of buffering during the streaming of video content, or slower than normal downloads from certain content providers.
With the recent announcement by Channel 4 to start offering more HD content via their on demand system, 4oD, there is a worry the problem with only get worse.
How would you feel if you knew your provider was trying to control how you use the internet to releave load across their network even though its harming what you are trying to do. Should they be forced to upgrade their networks to cope with the needed demand?
Personally, I believe they should invest in the networks so that the UK is leading the way, not playing constant catch up.
Virgin Media has often been criticised for having a very weak High Def line up on its cable TV platform. Today they have announced 4 more HD channels will be broadcasting on the network soon.
Living HD, FX HD, National Geographic HD and MTVN HD will be added to the platform, starting later this month. For XL TV customers with a V+ box, these will be available as part of the current package. There are ongoing discussions about adding even more HD content to the platform. Currently there is a lot of On Demand content available in HD, but only the BBC HD channel.
Virgin have confirmed a decent HD line up is one of their priorities, now that more users are HD enabled at home.
Ofcom are proposing Sky should be forced to share certain of its premium content channels with competing broadcasting companies.
Ofcome is proposing that Sky would have to offer premium channels to its rival broadcasters at regulated prices.
While users of Virgin’s cable TV service can subscribe to some of Sky’s premium channels, opening up the access would make it more feasible for other broadcasters to also show Sky’s content.
Sky are against this idea, and have threatened legal action against Ofcom. I would have thought they’d want more viewers to see the premium content. With the collapse of Setanta, Sky currently broadcasts the majority of English Premiership matches, Ofcom would like to see this spread out more so others can access and broadcast without requiring Sky TV.
Ofcom is also talking with the English Premier League about putting more limitations on the packages of matches. This would allow more broadcasters to show some of the matches.
ESPN who have bought the rights to broadcast the English Premier League matches that Setanta were due to show before they went into administration has started to broadcast on Freeview Channel 34.
While this service is encrypted, it is currently being provided free to anyone who was previously a Setanta subscriber.
The channel was added to Sky’s “News and Events” pack today, it is also available as a standalone premium channel on Virgin Media priced at £10 per month. BT are also looking to supply ESPN over the BT Vision platform.
It has been confirmed that troubled broadcaster Setanta Sports has now gone into administration, with the loss of all jobs in the UK and Ireland.
It is going to stop broadcasting shortly to customers in the UK, and will immediately cease taking payments for subscriptions. It will however continue to broadcast elsewhere.
Unable to pay the money it owed for its broadcast rights, it lost its bundles of games for both the English Premier League and the Scotish Premier League. It hoped that a rescue package could be reached, but talks broke down and this couldn’t be accomplished.
On Monday ESPN bought the rights to broadcast the 46 English Premiership matches that Setanta were due to show, and its package of 23 matches for the next 3 years. They are going to be shown on one of ESPN’s channels via Sky.