Feeds

Only Sky can save digital TV

If you're a public broadcaster, every lunch is free

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Switch over? Switch off

The real problem is that Ofcom is absolutely terrified that 15 per cent of digital refuseniks are going to kick up a tremendous fuss when their analogue tellies stop working over the next few years. Let's be perfectly honest and state the chances of them running out before digital switchover (DSO) and taking a DSat or Cable subscription are next to zero.

Ofcom and the BBC Trust are also really interested in rapidly pushing through plans for FreeSat, the DSat equivalent of Freeview on DTT. I've always been extremely baffled by this, especially when Sky offers an equivalent service which is fairly priced, but the recent furore in Whitby, which has piqued my interest but not hit the national press yet, provides a clue for the true motivation.

Basically, refarming of any spectrum is difficult - even playing with power levels and mast position will not give the same coverage as before. This could develop into a huge PR nightmare as digital switchover occurs, especially as a lot of channels will not be available outside of the main 80 DTT masts. DSat will be the only economic alternative for people suffering poor reception and the BBC does not want BSkyB to be seen saving the DSO.

People should also not forget this use of the DTT spectrum is Version 2. Version 1 was the bankrupt ONdigital financed by ITV. It should also not be forgotten that BSkyB wanted to be part of ONdigital, but was barred on competition grounds. ITV has obviously admitted defeat on payTV and nowadays seems to take a 100 per cent ad-funded model for all distribution channels including the internet.

However, Channel 4 is still confused: it sort of admitted that selling subscriptions for Film 4 was a big failure; it also seems to want to get out of the game of encrypting its other channels and therefore earning revenue from Sky; yet it is still trying to get consumers to pay for content on the internet.

It should also be remembered that for however much the PSBers whinge and whine, their past and continuing failures in PayTV are completely of their own making and the state subsidised channels have been cross-subsidising these failures for many a year.

In the long-term, we can disregard TopUpTV - which I believe is fatally flawed. TopUpTV requires a different kind of set top box, which receives the free to air Freeview transmissions as well as TopUpTV’s paid for service.

Even with the addition of Setanta content, which is the best shot in the arm for TopUpTV for many a year, I suspect TopUpTV will not be around in the medium term with its current subscription/technology mix.

The lessons to Ofcom are clear: the DTT platform is currently unhealthily dominated by PSBers, there is a huge barrier to entry to new content owners and there is already a flawed PayTV platform using the DTT spectrum, which is basically going nowhere fast.

Basically, I believe Sky is the last hope before the whole of the DTT platform becomes subsumed by the PSBers, which is the outcome that the BBC have wanted all along. This is the question Ofcom should be considering. Instead of wasting its time on preventing Sky's entry, it should be actively encouraging entry. ®

A longer version of this article first appeared on the Telebusillis blog.

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.