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ITV and C4 make Freeview HD bids

(August 2008)

BR
Brekkie Wales Wales Today
http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a122759/itv-c4-submit-freeview-hd-plans.html

Previously....
OFCOM announce plans to reconfigure the BBC's second Freeview mux for HD, moving the current BBC streams, along with Five and S4C, to the BBC's other mux and the already packed ITV/C4 mux.

The broadcaster object, saying extra muxes are required for HD - and then for some unknown reason backdown and back OFCOM's plans.

BBC automatically get a HD slot, with other companies having to bid for the next two. A fourth will be made available later.



Unsurprisingly ITV and C4 have made bids - and unsurprisingly it highlights what a waste of space OFCOM's plan is. ITV's bid is to run a service daily from 6-11pm, which would include sport outside these hours and provision for other companies to use their space. A single service will operate in England and Wales, with local versions for Scotland and NI.

C4's bid is to air 4HD, a 24-hr simulcast of C4, in England, Scotland and NI, with S4C HD airing in Wales. Teletext is included as part of the plans. C4 also state Freeview HD boxes should be made with ethernet connections and built in PVRs to make it competitive in the VOD market.


I've stated my views on this before but these bids show how pointless the plan really is - you gain so little yet potentially lose so much, most notably the quality of the SD services. Rather than using DSO to improve the reception issues and picture quality, this plan will instead see extra channels squeezed into just two PSB muxes on order to provide this HD mux.

A five-hour service from ITV doesn't seem worth it, while the BBC are already beginning to outgrow their one HD channel. C4's may be a 24-hour stream, but is far from a 24-hour HD channel - and I don't think there really is a demand for S4C HD. It's bringing back a problem that DTT was supposed to solve.

As I've said before, Freesat should be pushed as the option for FTA HD programming. With the exception of a minority who don't like satellite dishes, whether they have a dish or not doesn't really affect most of those wanting HD TV - and once the cost of a HD TV is considered, the slightly extra cost of installing Freesat isn't really an issue.
NG
noggin Founding member
The issues are slightly more complex. If digital terrestrial is written off entirely as an HD platform, then as HD becomes standard, terrestrial either becomes a quality-ghetto, or just gets switched off.

Satellite is not an option not just for those who don't like dishes - there are quite a few other reasons. Many areas have restrictions or bans on satellite dishes (and only allow internal TV aerials) for conservation reasons, others have properties that don't have line-of-sight.

Current satellite technology is also not good at multiple receiver set-ups (requiring either multiple LNB feeds or a multiswitch - though optical LNB cabling may solve this)

I agree that Ofcom have made the wrong decision on this. The digital television groups suggestion of two additional HD SFNs from the digital dividend spectrum (which would allow 4-6 HD services) was a good plan.

As we are we're trying to squeeze 20+Mbs of SD and radio content (18Mbs of BBC Mux B and Five etc.) into an additional 6Mbs of spectrum (obtained by switching the remaining BBC SD mux from 18Mbs 2k 16QAM to 24Mbs 8k 64QAM)... Great recipe for picture quality - the BBC Mux B Interactive and BBC Parliament streams are already broadcast at the lower resolution that ITV and C4 use for their non-core services. I suspect the Beeb may have to do the same for BBC Three, BBC News 24 and BBC Four.

Hopefully the new BBC coding and mux operation and suggested new BBC One regional model (centralised encoding in London and ANOther location rather than encoding in each regional centre) will allow for statmuxing and more efficient use of space on BBC One.

(Is BBC Alba also being squeezed into Mux 1 in Scotland?)
BR
Brekkie Wales Wales Today
But long term even as HD does become standard, which of course it will until the next improvement a few years later, 3-5 HD channels on the platform doesn't make it viable. If this was providing 6-8 channels it might be worth it, but as it is even in the long term we're losing out on more than what we're gaining.
MA
Markymark Meridian (Thames Valley) South Today
noggin posted:

Satellite is not an option not just for those who don't like dishes - there are quite a few other reasons. Many areas have restrictions or bans on satellite dishes (and only allow internal TV aerials) for conservation reasons, others have properties that don't have line-of-sight.


Something needs to be done about the ridiculous attitude some have towards satellite dishes in the UK. No other country has a hang up about their
aesthetics.

If DTT is allowed to go the way Ofcom are taking it, I fear the available picture quality of SD services will only be good enough for bedroom TVs. Satellite does indeed have genuine practical drawbacks for some, but it would seem that it is going to be the only 'off air' option for technically satisfactory quality digital reception.

One thing the Irish might like to consider, for their proposed DTT service, is

a) Tightly control the spec and performance of DTT receivers sold there.
That would avoid the increasing mess over such things as the recent split NIT on Freeview

b) Make all receivers HD capable. Then any future HD services would not need to simulcast on SD and HD, saving valuable bandwidth.

Too late for us now regrettably.
NG
noggin Founding member
Markymark posted:

b) Make all receivers HD capable. Then any future HD services would not need to simulcast on SD and HD, saving valuable bandwidth.


Downside of that is that it locks you into old tech for both SD and HD services and makes the SD receivers cost more (as they have to have HD chipsets and downconverters... )

If the UK had done that in the days of Freeview, we'd be running HD MPEG2 services via DVB-T (as in Aus), rather than being able to use DVB-T2 HD H264?

Very sound logic - not sure it is always the best route.
BR
Brekkie Wales Wales Today
Markymark posted:
Something needs to be done about the ridiculous attitude some have towards satellite dishes in the UK. No other country has a hang up about their aesthetics.


Completely agree. OK, fair enough if people have a personal issue with the look of them but as part of the switch to digital the legal complications in some areas should have been addressed so anyone who wants one, can have one. After all they're no more ugly than a standard TV aerial.


Similar issues with the roll out of cable too, though I guess that would cost a fortune, but there doesn't seem to have been any significant expansion in the cable network in the last ten years.
PE
Pete Founding member North Reporting Scotland
virgin are these days seeing if they can use BT's lines to increase their network availability. Having said that with h2o trying to get fibre in the sewers I can't see why virgin can't use this as an idea, I mean surely the main cost of laying the cable is putting in the ducts themselves.
SP
Spencer Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Brekkie posted:
Markymark posted:
Something needs to be done about the ridiculous attitude some have towards satellite dishes in the UK. No other country has a hang up about their aesthetics.


Completely agree. OK, fair enough if people have a personal issue with the look of them but as part of the switch to digital the legal complications in some areas should have been addressed so anyone who wants one, can have one. After all they're no more ugly than a standard TV aerial.


Absolutely - and a standard Sky minidish is much smaller than many of the high-gain aerials being fitted these days. Plus, being on a wall, they're not usually silhouetted against the sky like aerials, so I'd argue are less obtrusive.

I think the real objection mosty people have if they're honest is due to snobbery. I think many still associate satellite dishes with council estates and blocks of flats.
GS
Gavin Scott Founding member Central Reporting Scotland
Spencer For Hire posted:
I think the real objection mosty people have if they're honest is due to snobbery. I think many still associate satellite dishes with council estates and blocks of flats.


Yes I think that comes in to it a bit, but I'm not sure its necessarily wrong to hold that opinion.

Tenements and blocks of flats looks absolutely ghastly with dishes slapped on the sides. One or two dishes are easy to ignore, but when there are a dozen or more it just looks bloody awful.

The difference between those and aerials is that you can at least have a communal aerial with amplified distribution.

Not so easy with a dish.
SP
Spencer Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Gavin Scott posted:
[Tenements and blocks of flats looks absolutely ghastly with dishes slapped on the sides.


Of course they normally they look lovely. Wink
MA
Markymark Meridian (Thames Valley) South Today
Gavin Scott posted:

The difference between those and aerials is that you can at least have a communal aerial with amplified distribution.

Not so easy with a dish.


No more difficult, though more expensive per outlet, than terrestrial UHF communal distribution.

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