Tag Archives: bbc

A Rhetorical Question?

From the BBC’s website today…


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BBC Twitters Parliament

A bit more political transparency in the UK

We’re huge fans of the work TheyWorkForYou put into archiving and making accessible the process of British Government. And we encourage you to help them out with a bit of crowdsourced video-tweaking if you can.

Meanwhile, we notice that the august Beeb has started twittering from Parliament. Last time we looked they had under 80 followers (including us!), but give ‘em a chance. A nice simple way to maintain some peripheral awareness of What Goes On in politics.

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TV licence could become PC Tax

Talk about convergence…

The BBC is proposing levying a tax on anything that can receive video – from PCs to mobile phones.According to a government green paper delivered this week, the UK government plans to retain the BBC’s licence fee for at least the next ten years but are looking ahead to a time when high speed broadband connections deliver television content to homes.

In a statement to parliament, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said that,

Like its predecessors, this review [of the BBC licence fee] has examined the Corporation’s scale and scope, its funding and governance. But this one has been unique. In the level of public consultation, and in tackling perhaps the greatest challenge the BBC has ever faced -– the changes in TV technology that will soon result in a wholly digital Britain.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s green paper on the BBC’s long term future proposed an end of the traditional licence fee and “either a compulsory levy on all households or even on ownership of PCs as well as TVs.”

They need to move fast: press coverage this week shows that the BBC is already concerned that people watching TV over their mobile phones may be avoiding the licence fee.

Story via The Register.

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Urban Screens

Meditations on the promise and challenges of digital presence in public space.

This month, First Monday journal is focussed on urban screens: the impact of digital presence in public spaces. Much Northern-European cultural studies name-checking, but also a teaser for the Urban Screens 2006 conference (Berlin, October 5-6), which “will elaborate on the discussion and develop the broad spectrum of possible formats and usage of this emerging new media infrastructure.”

And some nice soundbites, for anyone engaged with outdoor:

[...] in taking TV from point-of-sale installations and the captive audiences of station platforms, airports, queues and waiting rooms into ‘public space’ means entering more complex urban environments. It means facing the decline of urban community spaces which, since the 1950s, has often been blamed on television.

Interestingly, next year‘s Urban Screens conference is

currently under preparation in collaboration with BBC Public Space Broadcasting. While Urban Screens 2006 will have ‘brick & mortar’ accents, Urban Screens 2007 will have a distinct focus on the potential of journalistic content: issues surrounding the production and display of media content for Urban Screens, as well as adaptive reuse of ‘old’ content for new media will be explored in detail.

Is there any emergent media that the BBC isn’t exploring?

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BBC to launch HDTV service

More news about television. The BBC is to start trialing high definition TV – mooted as conventional TV’s saviour (or the only reason to bother) – next year.

The BBC website reports that BBC director general Mark Thompson has pledged to deliver free-to-air HDTV on all BBC digital platforms “as soon as practical”, which is expected to be by about 2010.

The BBC trials aim to test out how HDTV broadcasts are transmitted and received. The corporation said they would not affect the reception of current channels.

Its trials are expected to last a year. The BBC has yet to decide how many participants will take part in the trials, or how they will be selected.

Sky plans to launch its own HDTV service in 2006, which will include live Premiership football.

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BT to introduce ‘Catch-Up’ TV

BT prepares to take on Sky and other broadcasters with its own TV on demand service.

Following Sky’s purchase of EasyNet, which will see the broadcaster muscle in on the lucrative broadband market, BT has come back with its own TV on demand service. BT’s ‘catch up TV’ will offer a similiar (but limited) capability to Sky’s PVR, Sky+, enabling internet customers to watch programmes shown during the previous week without needing to record them. From next summer, customers will be able to buy boxes and then pay for certain shows, with others being free. Head of retail Ian Livingston said: “No longer will BT customers be reliant on TV schedules.”

The BBC has the full story.

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BBC’s content player – a blogger’s verdict

The skinny? It’s the BitTorrent for non-geeks.

Thomas Scott offers his verdict on the BBC’s Internet Media Player (iMP) which is currently at invite-only testing stage.

In summary, it’s a nice bit of software; a little clumsy at times and most definitely in beta, but hey – it’s a legal, (soon-to-be) P2P way to catch up with (some of the) TV shows you’ve forgotten. The interface is distinctly non-geeky too, so it’s going to be much better than BitTorrent for non-technical users. I’m keeping it installed, anyway.

Read the full blow-by-blow experience of BBC’s iMP’ on Thomas Scott’s blog.

Here’s the lowdown on iMP from the BBC site:

iMP is an application in development offering UK viewers the chance to catch up on TV and radio programmes they may have missed for up to seven days after they have been broadcast, using the internet to legally download programmes to their home computers. iMP uses peer to peer distribution technology (P2P) to legally distribute these programmes.

Seven days after the programme transmission date the programme file expires (using Digital Rights Management – DRM – software) and users will no longer be able to watch it. DRM also prevents users emailing the files to other computer users or sharing it via disc.

Clever. The BBC promises that, on launch, iMP will offer ‘500 shows 300 hours 7 days of BBC programmes’. Essentially, an online video recorder of BBC content.

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BBC Opens Up

The BBC has made good its promise to open up its archives and released content on the web for people to freely distribute, rip and generally play around with.

Almost 100 clips, from shows such as Walking With Beasts and Tomorrow’s World, are for the UK public to use for free in their own creative works. BBC Radio 1 launched the scheme with a competition to produce a music video.

The clips, mostly a few minutes long, range from animals to landscapes and art. The Creative Archive licence under which the clips have been released says they must not be used in commercial or campaigning ways and must not be used to defame other people. The British Film Institute, Channel 4, Open University and Teachers’ TV are also set to make more material available.

More information is available via the BBC website.

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More about Podcasts

News channel picks up on podcasting.

The BBC appear to be a bit behind with this podcasting lark – they don’t seem to have one yet. ABC does …. see here

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Big News

BBC makes 500 hours of TV and radio available in latest download trial.

The BBC is to recruit 5,000 homes in the UK to participate in the first trial of its Interactive Media Player or iMP. The only stipulation will be that recipients have high speed internet access.

The corporation calls its service the ‘iTunes for the broadcast industry’ as it allows viewers to download any show from the previous week that they may have missed. Unlike PVRs like Sky+, viewers will not have to signal their chosen programmes in advance, allowing critically acclaimed shows to benefit retrospectively from favourable publicity or word of mouth.

Even more excitingly, the BBC is developing the service alongside the Creative Archive, which aims to make the corporation’s huge library of classic shows available for download. It will plans to keep costs down by taking advantage of peer to peer technology to distribute the content. Instead of storing the material itself, those who sign up will share the weight of the downloads among themselves. Inbuilt digital rights management software ensured that users cannot keep the programmes for longer than seven days, transfer them to disk or send them to friends. It remains to be seen how hacker-proof this will be.

The BBC’s interactive radio player is already live and adds millions to the radio division’s listening figures. Some shows, such as Radio 1’s Essential Selection, have as many ‘catch up’ listeners online as they do broadcast live.

The BBC was burned earlier this year by the trend for illegally downloading shows when the first episode of Doctor Who became available on Bittorrent. Conspiracy theorists suggest that the leak was a deliberate attempt to build hype and credibility for the show.

While live sporting events, popular reality tv shows (though clearly not Celebrity Love Island) and soaps still attract big audiences, broadcasters are expecting viewers to ‘time shift’ more and more programmes and watch them on demand.

There are currently over seven million UK homes with broadband whilst companies such as Microsoft are developing new devices that merge home computers with plasma screen TVs. This would solve the problem of viewers desiring HDTV versions of programming.

BBC executives are already terming the IMP service ‘martini media’ in that it gives the audience the opportunity to consume content ‘any time, any place, anywhere’. It is also perfectly fulfills the BBC’s remit as a public service broadcaster and may well see it yet survive in the age of media convergence.

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