Archives for September 2008

Why Freesat Works

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Simon Lumb Simon Lumb | 17:47 UK time, Monday, 22 September 2008


Let's say you've just made a change to some software you're developing that you expect an audience of thousands to use daily to check news headlines, sports results, the weather or the state of the markets. Let's say it runs on a digibox. How long would it take to press the keys the remote control 10,000 times and check that what you expected to happen, happens? When it comes to the shiny new Freesat platform, it takes us less than 20 minutes. Here's how.

Last August we were handed the brief to provide a digital text service for Freesat, the joint venture between ITV and the BBC to offer an alternative packaging of the free-to-air digital channels broadcast by satellite, due to launch in Spring 2008. The product manager, Andrew Bowden discusses the challenges on the BBC Internet Blog.

We were repurposing the channels currently available to view via Sky (or free to air satellite receivers). We already provide a complete BBCi red button service on the Sky platform. But that service is written using software licensed to Sky's platform (called OpenTV), which Freesat chose not to licence, so we couldn't just run that BBCi service on Freesat. Instead, Freesat uses an updated version of the software that runs the red button services on Freeview. It's free, it's called MHEG and it's an open standard.

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