Changes to Freeview (with a techie edge)

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  • The commercial radio comparison is a good one. Commercial radio shows what happens when PSB regulations are diluted. We no longer have commercial radio stations serving a local audience and being active in the community, just pseudo-national jukeboxes. Not much variety either. Both major commercial broadcasters prefer to compete with each other within similar markets / genres rather than being unique / providing something different. That's what will happen to TV if the PSB requirements are diluted.


    The D3&4 renewal suggestions are interesting as this multiplex is run by PSB's. I can't honestly see a fully commercial operator wanting to take over, especially not with the number of relays this multiplex operates.


    Of course, that's another element of the PSB requirements, that the broadcasters have to reach most of the population. Purely commercial operators have no interest in reaching the last 10% - as we have seen with the COM multiplexes.

  • I don't think there will be much, if any, change as a result of this 'consultation'. Johnson has decided to delay a decision on decriminalising non payment of tje TVL until at least 2022:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/ne…s-plan-decriminalise-non/

    Maybe this is a sign that this Government is softening their approach to the BBC, there again it might simply be because they have one or two more pressing things on their mind at the moment..

  • Perhaps a slight U turn now that Cummings is out of the picture. Something they may re-visit at a later time.

  • I didn't read it properly the first time. SO many names for the same multiplex. For some reason I thought this was (primarily) about an Arqiva mux and SDN. Not D3&4 and SDN.8o

  • There isn't a time limit on loss of culture. It will probably be easier now for subsidised US / Canadian content to flood the market and price out non-subsidised UK content. But... getting off-topic.

    My point was that you can regulate how much streaming content is home-grown, or is within certain categories, etc.


    TV channels as we currently know them will eventually disappear, so now is the time to review what public service broadcasting means and how it will be delivered in years to come.


    Nobody is arguing about the notion that we should aim to retain our culture, but if nobody watches conventionally broadcast channels any more in the future, where does that leave PSB then? We need to plan for the inevitable, not let it take us by surprise so we can mull over what we’ve lost at our leisure.

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  • PSBs and the License Fee should be about minority interests and other programming that wouldn't otherwise get made precisely because it wouldn't get made otherwise. Everyone has multiple niche interests, and commercial businesses will only see some programming as viable for creating. You won't get a show on stamp collecting let alone a standalone streaming business dedicated to it. Many, many subjects will never get catered for as funding isn't available. General, popular entertainment is attractive to commercial services so will be made by them.

    Which is why the streamers need to be regulated. It is not an argument to keep DTT or existing TV channels.


    There’s more than one way to skin a cat (I am reliably told).

    Protect the vulnerable and get back to work

  • I don't think there will be much, if any, change as a result of this 'consultation'. Johnson has decided to delay a decision on decriminalising non payment of tje TVL until at least 2022:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/ne…s-plan-decriminalise-non/

    Maybe this is a sign that this Government is softening their approach to the BBC, there again it might simply be because they have one or two more pressing things on their mind at the moment..

    The licence fee itself isn’t due to be reviewed until 2027. The 2022 changes are nothing to do with that.

    Protect the vulnerable and get back to work

  • Nobody is arguing about the notion that we should aim to retain our culture, but if nobody watches conventionally broadcast channels any more in the future, where does that leave PSB then? We need to plan for the inevitable, not let it take us by surprise so we can mull over what we’ve lost at our leisure.

    I think conventional broadcast channels will be safe enough within the renewal period. It will probably be time to take another look at things after this period, taking into account technical changes and the future outlook for broadcast channels at that point in time. It's not a good idea to make plans for the immediate future based on predictions of the broadcasting landscape in 12 to 20 years time. We don't know for certain what that landscape will be.


    There isn't really a justification to dilute PSB requirements, sure they could be extended to a wider range of broadcasters which, I understand, is being considered. Remove the requirements and obligations and the services disappear, just as they have with commercial radio.

  • I note that Prime has now come to Freesat. This begs the question as to whether the subscription VOD services will appear on Freeview before much longer.


    Is anyone aware of such a notion, and are there any technical reasons why this can’t be done?


    https://www.whathifi.com/news/…-now-available-on-freesat

    I guess it's up to the partners. Streamed premium services have appeared on DTT in the past over MHEG connected services but take up hasn't been great. Even Britbox hasn't been added to Freeview's players so there is possibly a policy of free content only.

  • I think conventional broadcast channels will be safe enough within the renewal period. It will probably be time to take another look at things after this period, taking into account technical changes and the future outlook for broadcast channels at that point in time. It's not a good idea to make plans for the immediate future based on predictions of the broadcasting landscape in 12 to 20 years time. We don't know for certain what that landscape will be.


    There isn't really a justification to dilute PSB requirements, sure they could be extended to a wider range of broadcasters which, I understand, is being considered. Remove the requirements and obligations and the services disappear, just as they have with commercial radio.

    I agree that there will be no change in the short to medium term, but what we do know is the SVOD and AVOD operators are taking a substantially increasing share of the audience and we need to prepare for that.


    It’s no good requiring these operators to carry a certain percentage of given types of programming with little time to prepare. Streamers need time to build up their offerings, so the regulators need to start thinking about this sooner rather than later.

    Protect the vulnerable and get back to work

  • I agree that there will be no change in the short to medium term, but what we do know is the SVOD and AVOD operators are taking a substantially increasing share of the audience and we need to prepare for that.

    Again, not something that is conclusive, SVOD / AVOD viewing may have a saturation point.


    It’s no good requiring these operators to carry a certain percentage of given types of programming with little time to prepare. Streamers need time to build up their offerings, so the regulators need to start thinking about this sooner rather than later.

    Not really a problem. Changes are usually phased in over specified time periods. Such as requirements to carry subtitles and AD streams. Which many streaming services are still sidestepping.

  • Again, not something that is conclusive, SVOD / AVOD viewing may have a saturation point.


    Not really a problem. Changes are usually phased in over specified time periods. Such as requirements to carry subtitles and AD streams. Which many streaming services are still sidestepping.

    When I look at how the younger generation is watching programmes and older generations are latching onto this, I doubt there will be a saturation point. There will always be a minority who stick to their old habits, but once audience levels are low enough, the TV channels will be killed off, provided that broadband has been rolled out across the country.


    I’m not sure which streaming services you have in mind when you talk of lack of sub-titles. All the main players - Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ have them. The players already come under Ofcom’s jurisdiction and have a timetable for getting their acts together.

    Protect the vulnerable and get back to work

  • Opinions aren't conclusive. The fact that BBC Three lost a significant proportion of it's audience after dropping the linear streams suggests that a more cautious approach may be needed.


    I'm thinking of the mixed subtitles situation on NowTV and the lack of subtitles / AD on legacy (non-app) streaming services on main providers, such as VM. If I remember correctly, the streaming services of some of the main broadcasters also lack these features. Although I've not checked them all recently.

  • I guess it's up to the partners. Streamed premium services have appeared on DTT in the past over MHEG connected services but take up hasn't been great. Even Britbox hasn't been added to Freeview's players so there is possibly a policy of free content only.

    BritBox is on various Freeview Play and Youview sets. It's mentioned against various manufacturers in the Help section of the BritBox website, and the Freeview website has Netflix, Prime Video and NowTV listed in the Play section.

  • BritBox is on various Freeview Play and Youview sets. It's mentioned against various manufacturers in the Help section of the BritBox website, and the Freeview website has Netflix, Prime Video and NowTV listed in the Play section.

    Right but it's not clear if the platform is providing the apps or the equipment manufacturer. I know that with Humax equipment, there are some additional apps provided by Humax. Possibly with the limited continuity of support that Humax have become known for.

  • JJ20X a question for you, and others of a DTT tech mind if you have any thoughts.


    I was reading a Digital Spy post and was wondering what you thought of what they are alluding to. The context was switchover of DTT to T2 and the hurdle of (some) regional programmes not being HD...


    "I hear that the BBC are moving the opt switches so somthing may be happening ."


    I know I could ask them directly but I'm curious for another take on it.


    I've heard of the proposed solution of IP being used to provide the regional variations differences on the broadcast BBC1 HD for those BBC Regions not HD yet. I wouldn't be surprised if the "switches" mentioned are to do with this, but it might not be, so I wondered what others thought.


    I'll monitor the DS thread to see if it is explained in the meantime.

  • I'm massively out of touch with anything happening on DTT. I've not seen anything on the chat groups but, having said that, I've not really been following the chat groups. I'll ask around...

  • GB News set to join Freeview, but where will the space come from?


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  • GB News set to join Freeview, but where will the space come from?

    There's "plenty" space, just no-one is taking it up at the moment.


    COM4 has 18 TV streams and is full.

    COM5 has 16 and hasn't been configured the way COM4 has, so is full in some respects (supposedly).

    COM6 has 14 and two haven't been filled since they they were emptied and is configured same as COM5 apparently.


    The added factor is if COM5 and COM6 were configured like COM4 that potentially means 2 extra video streams... according to some people. So "plenty" is at least 2 video streams as COM6 has had 16 video streams in the past, but may be as many as 6 in total.


    And that's not including the space on BBCB which currently houses 6 HD streams and 2 SD (presumably temporary filler until more worthy services are ready to use it), but if you look at DigitalBitRate has the space for more channels (at least 1 HD, maybe two, or probably 4-7 SD), presumably as there has been tech improvements and the space is just sitting there waiting to be used for something better.


    Note: take much of the above as amateur analysis on my part and outlining of others speculation I've read. I'm sure someone will poke a few holes in it. 8o

  • Note: take much of the above as amateur analysis on my part and outlining of others speculation I've read. I'm sure someone will poke a few holes in it. 8o

    I don't think that's possible on such an unpredictable platform which doesn't go out of its way to protect picture quality. Would anyone really be surprised if SDN decided to add another 6 streams next week? The video quality would be awful but...

  • I don't think that's possible on such an unpredictable platform which doesn't go out of its way to protect picture quality. Would anyone really be surprised if SDN decided to add another 6 streams next week? The video quality would be awful but...

    I doubt they would go any more than 2 more, but I can't see them having more than the 18 they do now on SDN. The only 6 I can see are the 2 and 4 respectively that could be on COM5 and COM6 if Arqiva copied the SDN set-up.

  • I doubt they would go any more than 2 more, but I can't see them having more than the 18 they do now on SDN. The only 6 I can see are the 2 and 4 respectively that could be on COM5 and COM6 if Arqiva copied the SDN set-up.

    Right and it would be stupid to add, well, any extra channels to that mux. But you're assuming that they will put quality before profit and they haven't demonstrated that trait with their previous (cram them in) actions.

  • Right and it would be stupid to add, well, any extra channels to that mux. But you're assuming that they will put quality before profit and they haven't demonstrated that trait with their previous (cram them in) actions.

    True, but there are limits to everything.

  • True, but there are limits to everything.

    There are but broadcasters tend to ignore them, let's use DAB as an example. Back in the day it was considered that the limits were 192k for stereo. That didn't last for long, standards were dropped to 128k joint stereo, and then to 112k. 80k was originally considered the minimum for speech but, in practice, it was dropped to 64k, 56k and below and even used for music stations in mono. DAB was supposed to improve on the sound quality of FM but...


    The same is happening with DAB+. 48k is considered the minimum for music stations but much higher bitrates can be used to improve sound quality. So what rate do the broadcasters prefer? 40k or 32k are currently being used by DAB+ AAC stereo stations, with the associated sibilation artefacts.


    Sure there are limits but the broadcasters don't respect them.

  • In the past Ofcom carried out a survey and found that Freeview viewers preferred more channel choice over picture quality, so I suppose the broadcasters now feel that they have been given carte blanche to do what they are doing.

  • In the past Ofcom carried out a survey and found that Freeview viewers preferred more channel choice over picture quality, so I suppose the broadcasters now feel that they have been given carte blanche to do what they are doing.

    When you've got a 14 inch telly it'll look fine. 8o


    But more seriously, I've got a 720p 22" screen with SD tuner and it's good-very good in the most part from normal viewing distance from these lower resolution channels. Even our old 32" SD tuner screen (before it packed it in) looked acceptable from normal viewing distance on these channels. I can understand it on screens above that size as the upscalers, even though they can work minor miracles these days, can't hide the problems. Though that the average user is probably too near the screen when they are that big, probably doesn't help.


    Our replacement 32" screen does an even better job of upscaling them. It's higher resolution and has a HD tuner on top. So I can see how they get away with it. :S

  • Dumb question(s) time!


    Sets the scene...


    I've got a Freeview TV that we got before Lockdown 1, it was saved from ending up in the skip by someone who needed a bigger screen due to failing eyesight...anyhoo I digress. When we first got it we thought the picture was very good for a SD-only screen from 2010.


    I swear in the last month or two the picture quality has improved. It's probably just my imagination, but is there anything that could possibly have changed?


    Clearly the TV hasn't had a firmware update for a VERY long time.


    So:

    - weather? (Possible)

    - regular transmitter maintenance fixed a problem that had existed since we got TV? (Possible)

    - more than one multiplex has changed its configuration? (Unlikely)

    - there's been a software update at their end? (Unlikely)

    - something encoder related? (Unlikely on MPEG2 at this stage in tech's life)

    - misc others?

    - my imagination (Very likely)


    :/:S 8o