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Time for the BBC to release the DOGs?

If 70 households really missed the BBC so much after 9 days, to the extent their £3.60 "refund" seemed like a bargain, shouldn't the BBC start better marking the output with "paid for out of the TV Licence" marks?

BBC One ident with something extra  Photograph:
BBC One ident with something extra Photograph:
published on UK Free TV

Here's an interesting document that has been doing the rounds.  It's called "Life without the BBC Household Study, 15 August 2015" and it seems that when cut off from ALL of the BBC services, these test households really didn't that they were watching the BBC.

Which rather begs three questions:

  1. Why BBC should not start using DOGs on BBC One and BBC Two, so viewers can know they are watching the BBC.   I watch everything on iPlayer and I really don't mind the BBC watermark in the top right hand corner.
    Current iPlayer DOG
  2. Shouldn't the BBC use the tagline "paid by your TV Licence" on everything it makes in the UK?
    BBC paid by your TV Licence
  3. The radio stations *especially* need to use these five words at least every hour.  "This is Five Live from the BBC, paid by your TV Licence".  "The Six O'Clock News on BBC Radio 4 paid by your TV Licence, the headlines this evening". 
  4. Flip up the words "BBC: paid by your TV Licence" TV during channel idents? 

At least until there is a new BBC Charter?   Do you have a better idea? 

All questions
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What can I do when my Sky Digibox says 'No Signal' or 'Technical fau4
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In this section
BBC salami-slicing returns to overnight services?1
#GreatBBC campaign launched2
Goodbye BBC Red Button!3
Want to know how much the BBC spend in England, Scotland, Wales and NI per home?4
S4C and Welsh Exceptionalism?5
BBC future: make sure you make the deadline6

Saturday, 29 August 2015

4:16 PM

MikeB: Great idea for an article. I have covered some of this stuff before, but it certainly could do with some explanations. Being a coder since I was 9 years old, this stuff all seems very obvious to me, but from the outside what can be done in software and what can't (and why) is certainly worth an explanation.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts US flag

8:00 PM

Briantist: The two most often repeated comments on any newspaper article about the BBC is 'why cant they just have ad's', and 'if they are so popular, why not just have subscription'. Often followed by 'sorted'.

Frankly, at that point you want to just want to say 'I'm afraid its a bit more complicated than that' (I got my mate the Ben Goldacre T-Shirt last year Bad Science - Fighting Pseudoscience - next my shopping list), but it would better to have a well considered article from you that we can just link to. Think of yourself as the of the broadcasting world!

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
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Sunday, 30 August 2015

8:19 AM


Please also see my entry about why many people would have to replace their equipment, especially if is more than a couple of years old as they don't have the facility to have a conditional access system added.

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MikeP's 215 posts GB flag
Alan G
10:15 AM

MikeB: I've read Martin Baines's post several times, and I can't see any mention of mandatory subscriptions, or any implication that Sky should give up its boxes. And isn't an app a type of conditional access system?

MikeP did not write that "most TV's (and PVR's) are not able to be reconfigered ..... ", he wrote that "not everyone has a TV that can be re-configured ..... ", which is a significantly different statement, in my opinion. And, as far as I know, a return path is not necessary for a conditional access system to work, the web certainly isn't necessary.

As for the future, that's anybody's guess, but Ofcom says that 75% of properties now have access to superfast broadband, and it's government policy to raise that figure to 90% by the year 2017. And as Briantist is so keen to point out, the speed of microchips is ever increasing. So five years for internet delivery of television looks like a good guess to me.

As for cost, advertisers will tell you that commercial television is actually genuinely free. The argument goes like this: advertising increases sales, increased sales leads to cost efficiencies, and it's the cost efficiencies that pay for the advertising, and not, as some would say, a premium on the goods or services being advertised. A change in B.B.C.'s "business model" might lead to cost efficiencies. I'm not saying it will, but it might. The funding of B.B.C. is complicated and has knock on effects on the television industry, and the wider economy.

I also noted that in Briantist's quiz last Xmas that I.T.V. costs half as much as B.B.C., and even though they are not the same it's hard to see why B.B.C. should cost as much as double! Greg Dyke saved us all a lot of money just by unencrypting the satellite signals.

You say that "Sky spends a quarter of its revenue on maintaining its subscription system ..... ", that seems very high, do you have evidence of that?

You accuse Martin Baines of abandoning voluntary subscriptions and then talk of fewer subscriptions, but if subscriptions are mandatory then there will be the same, or similar, number of subscriptions as licence fee payers now. But if subscriptions are voluntary, then the point of the exercise is obvious: choice. Some of us would like to make our own television choices, rather than have them shoved down our throats by politicians, or politicians' appointees.

You wrote: "I know relatively little about subscription security systems ..... ", and yet you chose to write a long post attacking Martin Baines's idea!

You wrote: "Frankly, the whole is nonsense, but I'd like some hard data to show it.". So you've pre-judged the idea then! You must be very open minded, and not at all ideologically driven then!

By the way, I hate The Daily Mail, I'm not right wing, I don't vote Tory, I dislike Rupert Murdoch, The Times, The Sun, and The Torygraph, and I don't accept that B.B.C. is left wing or right wing biased. So there's no need for you to subject me to one of your usual personal attacks just because I have a different opinion to you.

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Alan G's 19 posts GB flag

7:11 PM

Alan G: I never mentioned anything about Sky - they have a working subscription system, so they have no need to change. And an app can be used as a conditional system, as we all can see from using Netflix, etc. However, its interesting that although BT are using an app for smartphone/tablet use, they bypassed the use of an app for TV acces - that is still a box.

Ok - so what is the percentage of TV's and PVR's unable to be 'upgraded' or accept a payment system? MikeP used the phrase 'not everyone', rather than 'most', but that splitting hairs. The BBC reckoned that only 50% of households had some sort of 'pay-TV system' BBC Blogs - About the BBC - Why subscription isn't the best way to fund the BBC , but of course that includes Sky and Virgin, and as it points out, perhaps only one TV in the house has the system.

No Freeview PVR has a CAM slot, so they cannot use that system. Yes, most TV's do have a CAM slot, but not all. And even if they do have one, would the original manufacturer want to rewrite the software on the TV (if they even could)? Even the big four would be reluctent (whats in it for them, when they could sell you a new one, rather than extending the life of that 7 year old TV?), and for much of the 'no brand' market, the manufacturers might not even exist. It would be facinating to get the likes of 'Luxor', etc to engage with the process.

Lets look at PVR's and set-top boxes, which a large number of people use, rather than the tuners in their TV. No CAM Card, so any system would have to have a return path, so that you could put in a password, etc in order to access content. Of course they were never designed to do this, and even if the software could be rewritten, whats in it for the manufacturer? And how would this system output? My Sony PVR has no net acces, not any way of connecting it to a phone line, and the only USB connection is an imput.

Now from the point of view of selling new kit to customers, it would be like digital switchover all over again, so not so bad from my point of view, but its going to be very expensive.

Superfast broadband? To quote The Princess Bride (always a good thing) You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means. This article points out the confusion over what that phrase means to different people Let's Stop Having Different UK Definitions for "Superfast Broadband" - ISPreview UK Page 2 - in others words, not everyone is going to get broadband fast enough to watch even Iplayer in HD as yet , and when it happen is a question which lots of people are asking. 2mb's to everyone by next year? Maybe, but a lot of people in rural areas are still very unhappy, judging by some of my customers today, and dont even start on 4K. The vast majority of people dont stream, but if they did, think about the bandwidth you'd need for something like GBBO. A while back, someone wrote a very sueful post about the capacity needed for something like that, and it turned out that the bandwidth just wasn't there. Its not the speed of the chip, its the size of the pipe thats the chokepoint.

As for your idea on advertising review - I'd like to see some links to actual data and peer reviewed articles, becuase its not a theory I'm familiar with.

ITV does cost less than the BBC, but ITV does less! It has no radio stations (apart from a number of commercial stations), has one children's channel (not 2), and tends to show just repeats and bought in programmes (although some are UK baseds). The BBC makes original programming instead. ITV Encore, ITV3 & 4 shows repeats, bought in programmes, and films ( a lot). ITV2 also has a far number of films, plus shows a lot of repeats of its flagship shows. Although it is a PSB broadcaster, only a part of its channels or light transmitters (which costs), although they have just added ITV4.

It has a smaller regional news operation than the BBC (it saved lots of money by folding in regions together), plus no 'other language' channels, such as Alba, etc. Its does not have pay the costs of something like the World Service, not any other activities that are 'non commercial', other than ist PSB requirments (and its tried to water down those). Its has no particular requirement to make original programming, or show it in peak hours. And its current affairs output is bascially zero.

And its doesn't make programmes like 'Big Blue LIve' - there isn't any money in it. Nor does it make programmes like 'Boy Meets Girl' - too risky. And its hasn't employed Melvin Bragg to make programmes for a while - just not commercial. The BBC does, and thats why it costs more.

I got the figure about Sky's subscription costs from something that Brianist wrote. I might have misremembered or plain got it wrong, so an article setting out such information would be helpful. I dont know that much about subscription systems, but from what I know, its unlikely to be cost effective. Again, thats why I want Brianist's expertise in this subject.

As for choice, life is the art of the possible. I would prefer not to pay for lots of things from my taxes, yet others might not chose to pay for the services I value - we all pay, which is the most cost-effective way. Choice has its costs (as do markets), and since 97% of people use the BBC on a weekly basis, its a tiny percentage at best which chose not to use the BBC. The greatest good of the greatest number?

I dont do personal attacks, although I get a little testy sometimes at people who refuse to use facts to back up their arguments. So data, not bluster.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
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Brian Wright

7:51 PM

Re ,Mike B, ITV does cost less than the BBC, but ITV does less.Yes I agree. A two hour listed program on ITV will have about 11/2 hours actual content.
Prove this by recording any ITV program via their itv player on the Sky Box and you will have the wonderful experience of the viewed program WITHOUT ADVERTS. and it will be about 25% shorter than its original terrestrial length with adverts. So its very difficult to compare the programming costs when you deduct over a period of 24 hours the stoppages due to the adverts and the equivalent length of programming by the BBC.
Personally it will be the end of civilisation if the BBC were to disappear.
Has anyone watched SKY news lately around 7-9 am . I despair at their advertising breaks. They even split "what the papers say" with adverts at the beginning in the middle and at the end and the papers slot only lasts about 10 minutes. Rather like most of the TV networks in the USA .!!
Having the BBC around keeps our broadcasting networks on their toes .

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Brian Wright's 77 posts US flag

9:38 PM

Brian Wright: I hadn't actually thought of that point. However, for individual programmes, the difference in length is unlikely to be the cause for the overall group costs.

If your shooting something like Downton (which is actually made, like so many programmes these days, by an idependent producer), its cost is relatively high because it is an historical drama, which is particularly expensive (drama is expensive and risky, and historical ones cost even more). Much the same goes for Call The Midwife, The Musketeers, The Bletchley Circle. etc. The cost is in the script, setting up of the shoot, the cast and crew, the period locations, etc. Yes, if the running time is slightly shorter, then there might savings, simply because actors might have less time to be on screen, but its not going to be much.

And again the same goes for drama's such as Scott & Bailey v Line of Duty, or sitcoms, or white floor shows. The production costs shouldn't greatly differ - indeed they might be using the same studio's, etc. Thats off the top of my head, so I went looking for hard data.

Obviously data is hard to come across, but in 2010, someone on Digital Spy was quoting a figure of £750,000 per hour for ITV Prime Time Drama. . Its pretty interesting discussion. This is a schedule of BBC tarriffs….pdf for independents for roughly the same period, and the costs paid are much different. Basically, it costs what it costs. However, an NAO report did say that the BBC had reduced drama costs by around 20%….pdf

However, I suspect that ITV/C4 pays what it thinks a programme is worth, as does the BBC (although probably a little less), rather than per minute. Another cost difference which did suddenly occur was although the amount of drama ITV has produced has much increased in the last 4-5 years, the BBC still produces a lot more. And since that costs more to make, its perhaps the different programme mix (and hence costs) thats a key feature. And of course its not just drama - Made in Chelsea most likely costs less than Springwatch.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
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9:40 PM

Of course i should have typed 'not much different' when it comes to costs....need more coffee!

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
MikeB's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Sunday, 6 September 2015
Brian Wright

6:48 PM

MikeB: Of course i should have typed 'not much different' when it comes to costs....need more coffee!I'll drink to that Mike, Nice relevant comments from you.

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Brian Wright's 77 posts US flag
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Keith Sheppard
10:07 AM

I would adamantly oppose any attempt to introduce channel idents (DOGS) on BBC1 and 2. You say you don't notice the DOGS on iPlayer services. Lucky you. I do. All DOGS on all channels annoy me intensely. For example, I never watch the Channel 4 HD service because I would rather put up with SD without a DOG. I admire and envy those who can ignore them. To me, they spoil my enjoyment of every DOG'd channel. Actually, I think ITV have the right idea. A DOG (if you really must) on broadcast services but not on internet catch-up services where there's already enough branding on the app used to access them.

You say many households were unaware they were watching a BBC programme. What mystifies me is why this should actually matter to a public service briadcaster.

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Keith Sheppard's 8 posts GB flag
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