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Round Up: Thursday 24 September 2009

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Paul Murphy Paul Murphy | 15:05 UK time, Thursday, 24 September 2009

test cardAutumn is traditionally the time when TV schedulers roll out good news so let's start there.

The announcement on the blog that iPlayer favourite Top Gear was getting the HD treatment has reverberated around the internet like a souped up Ford Fiesta Titanium. There hasn't been so much buzz since iPlayer got onto the PS3.

Part one of the Telegraph's The 50 most influential Britons in technology featured blog contributor and regular commenter Andy Quested at number 42 and the BBC's legendary Brandon Butterworth at 27. What unites these two? Probably two of the coolest job titles imaginable: "Principal Technologist, HD" and "Chief Scientist, BBC" respectively. (Update added Friday 25 September: part two of the Telegraph's Technology Brits is now online.)

TV chief Lorraine Heggessey has suggested that users of catch up services like the BBC iPlayer should pay for it. With the promised launch of ad-funded services like the revitalised Kangaroo (full disclosure: I worked on it!) and the eventual entry of Hulu into the UK market in the pipeline will consumers pay?

The BBC's Head of Distribution Technology responded on the blog to accusations that the Beeb was planning to make millions of Freeview PVRs obsolete. Oh, if only it were that simple. The reality is a brain-numbing yet potentially significant (depending on who you read: boingboing's take, cnet's, MP Tom Watson's) issue around the use of DRM/encryption on the coming Freeview HD boxes.

Paul Murphy is the Editor of the BBC Internet blog.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hopefully Andy Quested can use his new found power to get the BBC Trust to allow a 'red button second HD channel' or full temporary or permanent HD channel to deal with the impending arrival of events like The Winter Olmypics and The World Cup which will disrupt regular programming on BBC HD.
    The Winter Olympics will because of the time difference take up over 2 weeks of the entire BBC HD schedule.
    And also use the lastest MPEG-2 updates to remove the 2 MPEG-2 channels BBC HD has to share with so the transponder can switch to DVB-S2.

    Lorraine Heggessey is behind the times. Channel 4 online has already switched to an advertising funded model.
    And why would people want to pay £1 for 1 show when they pay just over £11 for the entire license fee?
    She forgot to see the growth of PVR technology would raise the question of why should you pay online if you can watch when you want via your PVR.
    It would only widen the digital divide as those currently financially excluded would find more exclusions put in place when they get online.

    The BBC is right to use some form of limited protection for its material on DTT.
    Official BBC Worldwide sales of BBC content help raise money which is reinvested in BBC programming.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Wouldn't a real second channel be better than a "red button second channel". A red button channel wouldn't have programmes listed in the TV guides, and would you be able to record it on a PVR? It would be easier to know what's on the channel and record a programme on it if it was on a real second channel.

  • Comment number 4.

    The reality is it took a long time to get BBC HD going. There is less than 5 months until The Winter Olympics. In order to provide full coverage without having to stop broadcasting everything else a 'red button HD channel' is more likely to be approved than a new second HD channel.
    It could be given a temporary placement on the EPG.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think it's been a pretty mixed week. Top Gear is fantastic news, various people trying to justify charging for iPlayer or similar services and encrypting EPG data are fairly disturbing developments. Lorraine Heggessey is just being plain greedy. The iPlayer gets the BBC a lot of brownie points, if it were to charge I think you'd see a lot of the goodwill on the licence fee evapourate overnight.

    I'm glad those two got in the telegraph's list but I don't believe one should get into the business of making people into cult status. These people just do their jobs, we shouldn't thank or idolise them too much.

  • Comment number 6.

    ropies - a fair enough point, but lists are always great fun as long as you don't take them too seriously. (And they're even bigger fun if you happen to be included in the list!)

  • Comment number 7.

    Question to The BBC's Head of Distribution Technology:

    Why is the picture quality of BBC Standard Definition service so variable?

    Some programs are good, some bad. It seems to me that the BBC do not have sufficient digital bandwidth in their digital infrastructure (including transmission capacity) to meet the demands of the red button and other interactive video services.

    As an example the Red button coverage of F1 has poor picture quality and the BBC 1 coverage is not much better. Channel 5 and Eurosport HD (when up-scaling SD) are significantly better.

    I have access to Sky, FreeSat and Free View and all exhibit this problem.

    Another daily example is the BBC 1 Main and local news whose picture quality from the studios have been poor, but are now significantly better.

    Please do not compromise quality over quantity. I for one want the best picture (and sound) quality digital TV can deliver!

  • Comment number 8.

    have you discussed about a date of when to stop airing tv broadcasts in mpeg2 on Freeview boxes as we can't use mpeg2 forever and will you get force manufacturers to add mpeg4, aac and ac3 audio decoding capability in all new freeview boxes and built in tuners so that when we do switch to mpeg4 the numbers of tv's and boxes to be replaced will be more minimal?

    all of virgin's cable boxes that customers receive now can decode mpeg4 so and have done for quite a while so that when they decide to switch to mpeg4 the number of boxes they need to replace will be quite low, will you be trying to implement such a system?

    regarding the new copy protection of the EPG for hd freeview, will you be letting hauppage and other pc tv card manufacturers to use the EPG as i watch tv via my pc.

  • Comment number 9.

    #8. At 1:36pm on 27 Sep 2009, samuel1984 wrote:

    "have you discussed about a date of when to stop airing tv broadcasts in mpeg2 on Freeview boxes as we can't use mpeg2 forever"

    Why? We could have carried on using analogue terrestrial TV forever, although it would have limited the UK to 4 or 5 (depending on location) terrestrial channels, and who would pay for yet another TV 'format' change to the FTA broadcast sector. HD DVB-T, like SD or HD DVB-S, is different as it's not (yet, and may never be) the core television service. A codec change could/would make millions of existing FTA DVB-T STB/televisions obsolete...

    Sorry but the Freeview specification is all but set in stone I suspect, just like the 625 line service has been for the last 45 odd years, refinements yes but wholesale format (such as codec) changes no.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello, has the BBC ever considered creating an HD calibration blue ray DVD Wizard so that we can all be singing from the same hymn sheet? Just a suggestion.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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