Broadcasters and ISPs cosy up for iPlayer on Freeview
BBC, BT, ITV standards push for on demand telly
The BBC, ITV and BT are working on technical standards aimed at offering on demand TV over broadband to the UK's more than 15 million Freeview households.
The trio announced proposals today that to build a "standards based open environment for broadband connected digital television receivers". They invited other public service broadcasters (Channel 4 and Five), device firms and other ISPs to back the initiative.
The initiative, currently described only in the vaguest terms, will seek to extend the reach of the BBC iPlayer and the ITV player to mainstream living rooms.
Public broadcasters will be offered use of the iPlayer back end, the BBC said. It also seems likely the involvement of BT and other ISPs indicates plans for a shared content delivery network, to soften the impact on bandwidth charges.
No timescale was provided, but the announcement said plans for high definition on demand would be included. Like all new services, the BBC's involvment in the intiative is subject to approval by the BBC Trust. On demand via a new generation of Freeview boxes would carry no subscription fee.
BBC director-general Mark Thompson said: "We are building on a history of collaborating with and supporting the industry in research and development which includes NICAM stereo, Teletext and Freeview."
The BBC's on demand offering has been available to Virgin Media TV subscribers via set-top boxes since the end of April this year. The service has proved a success, and accounts for about a third of total iPlayer usage.
Relations between other internet providers and the corporation hit a nadir this year when now-departed tech chief Ashley Highfield suggested he might name and shame ISPs who restrict iPlayer traffic. A more conciliatory tone has prevailed since and BBC engineers have been investigating content delivery networks for months as a way of slashing the load iPlayer places on ISPs.
The BBC has also been under regulatory and political pressure to collaborate on technology with struggling commercial public service broadcasting rivals. ®
Stop bitching about the licence fee!
Will you all shut up about the bloody licence fee already?
It's what you pay not to have advertisements on TV. Most satellite stations are unwatchable without some kind of recorder, due to the sheer amount of advertisements they broadcast.
Also, the BBC are funded by *us* *the* *viewers*. Not by advertisers (who have the option to withdraw their money unless they like the programmes the broadcasters are making. Do you think Cadbury's would sponsor a documentary on how chocolate caused cancer?) or the government (who have the option to withdraw their money unless they like the programmes the broadcasters are making. Do you think the Government would pay for a programme that exposed them as incompetent?), but by the very people who watch the programmes they make.
Both communism (where the workers control the means of production) and capitalism (where a few rich fatcats control the means of production) miss the mark. At least the BBC's funding model is closer to the situation where the means of production is controlled by the poor sod who has to buy the products.
Honestly, they should have just decided when we went all-digital (and therefore required every TV receiver to be replaced) to scramble all the broadcasts and made you buy a viewing card -- no payment, no picture. I wonder who was responsible for them *not* doing it that way?
Could be very good - Freeview + Browser + Email client
"standards based open environment for broadband connected digital television receivers"
If this translates into a Freeview Box + Browser (Sea Monkey)+Email client (Mozilla)+IM (ICQ)+ wifi, we suddenly have a very interesting Digital Switchover programme.
Last weekend Asda, Clapham Junction were selling digital receivers for £14.99, and ACER laptops for £250, it did not have a browser equipped STB/receiver for £50!
It would be a relief to BTs accountants and shareholders alike if such a device appeared, as it would reduce the burden caused by BT Vision. The STB suppliers must have these designed and ready to fly.
The license is for installation and use.
If you plug in a TV aerial you need a license. A TV in storage does not need one, neither does one used just for watching DVDs.