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DTG Summit: Freeview 700 MHz band for 4G very likely, BBC pay-Freeview not

I was fortunate to win some tickets to the annual meeting of the Digital Television Group at the DTG Summit today. The theme of the day was "co-allocation", a rather innocuous term for handing over the Freeview transmission bandwidth to mobile phone operators. We also learnt how advanced the plans are for Freeview to be equipped for a conditional-access to replace the TV Licence and saw the latest Freesat and YouView equipment.

The Digital Television Group Summit 2014  Photograph: Brian Butterworth
The Digital Television Group Summit 2014 Photograph: Brian Butterworth
published on UK Free TV

Before I tell you about co-allocation, I think it is worth mentioning a few other things I learnt today. Please do see the see FITT report, which came out today Future of Innovation in Television Technology Taskforce.

Freesat Freetime

First, is that the rather amazing Freesat Freetime app for Apple devices is coming to Android at some point. This application once linked to your Freesat Personal Video Recorder box has all the features you might expect for finding TV programmes to record.

In addition, when you have content recorded on your box, the application shows you the details of the shows, and allows you to select and play the one you want. This makes it also as simple as Google Chromecast to pick and play TV content.

I have to say that I am very fond of Freesat Freetime: the interface is slick and simple and it "just works" and it is simple to access on-demand content: you can even step back though seven days of watchable content by just going left in the TV listings.

YouView, version 2

I was pleased to see that the second version of the YouView box was actually usable. The first box, which I had obtained from BT, I found to be unresponsive and buggy. The old box took ages to wake up, the interface was slow. If the internet failed for some reason, you had to disconnect the Ethernet cable and reconnect it to alert the YouView box to the return of your ISP service.

The new box, which I got to use for a few minutes, was much faster and thus responded to key presses when you made them, not seconds later. However the box did manage to forget about the MHEG5 text services and so would not access Red Button when asked.

Freeview and BBC "subscriptions"

In the session on Evolution of DTT, in the Q+A session that followed, I was able to ask Jonathan Thompson (CEO, Digital UK) about the migration planning for the BBC to become a subscription service, so that the Licence Fee could be replaced in January 2017.

The answer was that there are no plans in place to do this: Freeview is primarily a free-to-air platform and the stated policy is that it will remain that way.


You may recall that I have been posting for quite some time about the (Ofcom channel bingo II - introducing the bands) change of use of about one third of the existing Freeview broadcast spectrum for use by 4G mobile broadband.

It appears that (athough Minsiter Ed Vaize was not draw to a final commitment) the working assumption is that this will happen shortly.

The actual process will require the Ofcom Consultation to come out in favour, this is then forwarded to the EU who will agree this at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15). It is the WRC who would agree to the "Co-allocation" of 698MHz to 786MHz (C49 to C60)

What Co-allocation means in practice: switchover II

If the co-allocation plan goes though, then if you use Freeview you have a good chance that all you may have to do is perform another retune at some point.

If you Freeview and have a wideband aerial, then it is almost certain that all you will to do is retune. However if you have a "grouped" aerial, someone will probably have to pay for you to have it replaced.

The reason for this is that when transmitters were changed from analogue to digital care was taken to keep the transmission in the same aerial groups: the planners wanted households to keep their aerials.

However, this was not the most efficient use of the UHF channels. If the constraint of keeping transmitters in their same group is removed then 12 lots of 8MHz in the UHF band can be re-purposed for mobile broadband, whilst keeping the current PSB multiplex coverage.

The projections also suggest that the change to this new plan may reduce the coverage of the commercial multiplexes (COM4, COM5, COM6) by a small amount.

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Sunday, 1 June 2014

5:31 PM

Does that include the gigantic expenses the members claim.

Just watched points of view. Most of the program was given over to Alan Yentob the BBC creative director to tell us how much we all love the BBC. Really out of touch and he gets at least £183,000 per year for creating very little.

The few viewers views were very critical of the bbc. Oddly one women described Ukip as a minority party!

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag

5:40 PM

trevorjharris: Alan Yentob isn't part of the BBC Trust, he's in the management team.

Are you conflating the BBC Executive with the BBC Trust? It sounds like it.

I suspect that Alan Yantob is very much in touch with the sort of thing that he is supposed to be in touch with. I bet £180k doesn't seem like much if you're, Damien Hurst or even Lady Gaga...

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

5:48 PM

trevorjharris: BBC - Inside the BBC - Alan Yentob, Creative Director lists Alan Yentob expenses.

If you want to check them against the policy, the current one is….pdf .

Worth remembering that the problems with MP's expenses is that, unlike everyone else including Alan Yentob, they didn't need to provide any proof.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

6:03 PM

Trevor Harris: 'the BBC is too big'. Who says? Its a bit like saying 'government is too big' - thats an ideological/philosophical question. Considering the PSB requirements expected of it (and the extra burdens from the last settlement), it might be judged to be just right.

' There are many ways to finance it. Sponsorship, voluntary and compulsory subscription, advertising etc.' Except, as Brianist has carefully pointed out (and as usual, you have totally ignored), these revenue streams all have their own problems, costs, or often too little to substain even a slimmed down BBC. And do I really want begging ads every five minutes on the BBC or telethons? (five pounds helps put on Springwatch this year....') Its very funny in the Frasier episode 'Look Before You Leap', but it makes no sense in terms of what I want from the BBC.

The licence fee is able to substain the BBC - if the link between the licencee fee and RPI was reinstated, then the income stream is reasonable. Its been frozen for a while, but overall, its lower than it was in the 1990's, and was certainly higher a lot of the time in the 1970's Television licensing in the United Kingdom (historical) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . And considering the extra services available...

Is the quality low, and is ITV doing fine? Its nice to see ITV drama winning awards (finally), but there has been some cracking stuff on BBC this year. The Fall, Line of Duty, Burton & Taylor, The Village, Top of the Lake, The Wipers Times, Last Tango in Halifax. And those are just the Drama's. On the other hand, ITV really doesn't do current affairs, original childrens programmes, much music or comedy.

Is the licence fee unfair? Life isn't fair, but its the easiest, fairest and most cost effective way of funding at present. Sky subscriptions aren't fair either (want one - yes?. Afford one? No. Not fair).

Why are the 'expenses' huge? Compared with whose? The head of Sky gets about £7m a year, and it would be interesting to see what his expenses are, and the pay of the rest of his team. Are they overpaid? How about C4 or ITV?
If you want a very senior member of a very large organisation in charge of a very large budget to be paid no more than £30K a year and luncheon vouchers, good luck with finding someone. However, in the real world, you have to pay the going rate.

UKIP are a minority party. They have no MP's, 153 councillors (a number falling almost week by week, it seems), and just 9% of the UK population able to vote actually turned out for them at a European election (which had a turnout of just 33%). And if the BBC wanted to put on a happy face, why did they feature only negative comments on Points of View?

Please put on a new record, the old one is very worn.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
Dave Hagen
7:51 PM

I,m sorry but I have disagree with the idea that ITV are doing better than the BBC,apart from a few very good dramas such as Broadchurch ITV schedules are full of soaps & reality tv shows. I know this is down to personal choice but just look at the BBC daytime output compared to ITV for me no comparison really.

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Dave Hagen's 19 posts GB flag
Monday, 2 June 2014

9:10 PM

I don't agree about the quality of the BBC's current output. Night after night I find there is nothing to watch. Even things that look good like Jamaica Inn or Quirk the BBC manage to mess up technically. Even worse the BBC tried to blame peoples TV sets at first.

I don't believe that it is possible for the license fee to keep up with RPI. There are too many who cannot afford it.

The license fee is unfair because we have to pay for the BBC even if we only watch other channels. The BBC have repeatedly been shown to be poor stewards of our money.

Mikeb you clearly believe that the license fee is good value for you. That's fine but everyone else should not be forced to pay for it too.

License fees are also being hit by online services which do not require a license.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag

9:16 PM

My point about points of view was that the majority of the time was given over to BBC properganda. Only a few seconds was given over to viewers.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag
Friday, 6 June 2014

11:25 AM

I can't understand why folk seem to be always grumbling about the idea of having to pay a licence fee. THE LICENCE FEE WORKS OUT AT JUST UNDER 40 PENCE A DAY. And look what you get for it. The UK has the best television service in the world. Even if you don't watch the BBC at all, most folk are quite willing to pay a monthly premium to access SKY and other tv services, yet, you get some who complain about paying a licence.Trevor, if you think that points of view is somehow biased towards viewers point of view, then why not contact the BBC and complain about it. That's what they are there for. The BBC like viewer feed back and I'm sure they will take on board your grievance.

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KEVIN GARDINER's 68 posts GB flag
KEVIN's: mapK's Freeview map terrainK's terrain plot wavesK's frequency data K's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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