Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/07/04/ondigital_launches_psychic_nettv_box/

ONdigital launches psychic NetTV box

Insight into the strange world of IT journalism no.42

By Kieren McCarthy

Posted in Media, 4th July 2000 17:06 GMT

Next Tuesday ONdigital will announce the launch of a new TV channel and forthcoming Net box that will give consumers Internet access through their TV. Details are a little sketchy but the channel, so far unnamed, will be out next year.

The Net box is a little disappointing, it uses its own browser and should be available in September.

Hang on, didn't the headline say it was ONdigital that was psychic, not The Reg> No, we're not psychic, just adept at getting hold of information that we shouldn't really have. ONdigital on the other hand is psychic since it appears to know what journalists will ask at the press conference.

What on earth are we blithering on about? Well, a company that we usually act as a content provider to, has happened across a Q&A document, listing the most probable questions IT journos will ask after the announcement and providing vanilla answers after each of them.

As a special treat, we thought we'd publish it in full. Look here. [Incidentally, we apologise to ONdigital and the IT journos who don't read this story in time]

We love these kind of documents - not just for the information but also the approach. If we asked, for example, why Sky had so many more subscribers than ONdigital, we would be told: "They don't, in reality. They start with millions of analog subscribers to convert. But when you count new customers, we believe that our real growth and that of Sky are very close." Please note that this subjective, ambiguous answer still holds if ONdigital had around 20 subscribers.

What other gems are there? Here we go:

Q Can you give us a target date for flotation?
A No, that is ultimately a matter for our shareholders to decide.

Q But they obviously can't agree while mergers are being discussed?
A I'm afraid I have nothing more to say

But while some areas are covered in detail, we have to worry about what look like enormous gaps in the preparation. For example, concerning the Net box, questions like, will this system allow me to read attachments? If I'm out of coverage will I still be able to get the system? Can I download? Can I see video from the net? Can I download software? will all be met with a solid 'no'. The immediate question that ONdigital will be faced with is 'why not?'

The other two highlights are the questions: How can I sign up for the Net box? and Is there enough capacity on the Net box to allow interactive learning? The latter is greeted with a blank and the former with a single question mark.

If you're interested in the finer details either read the Q&A or go to the conference on Tuesday or wait to read what happened on Wednesday.

We aim to be of service. ®