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All posts by Fred Perkins

Below are all of Fred Perkins's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.

Showcase TV
Wednesday 10 April 2013 4:59PM

There's some very confused info here.

SHOWCASE is available without subscription on Sky 191 and Freesat 400. It is not available on Virgin or Freeview.

Transmission frequencies were changed in early April, and while most Sky and Freesat boxes will have auto-updated, some will not. These, plus viewers with free-to-air receivers, need to do a rescan. Parameters to enter (if required by your box) are - on Eutelsat 28A (formerly Eurobird 1): Frequency 11.344 HORIZONTAL; Symbol Rate 27500; FEC 2/3. Then SHOWCASE will come back. Also SHOWCASE 2 and INFORMATION TV, which are from the same broadcaster.

There is NO postcode dependency. The channels are available throughout the UK, Ireland, and mainland Europe, if you have the right equipment.

The broadcaster has a helpful website (, which also allows internet viewing of the channels worldwide.

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Showcase TV
Wednesday 10 April 2013 5:46PM

Small PS:

Sky and Freesat boxes will normally update automatically with new channels or frequency changes, but may miss the automatic updating if the box is switched off, eg at night. In those cases, physically powering off the box (disconnect the mains - not just the box 'off' button) for 20 seconds, then it will update when you switch on again.

General satellite receivers will normally require a manual "rescan", which should be done regularly, to ensure that you are receiving all the channels available to you.

In satellite TV, channels change frequencies quite often, for a range of technical reasons. So it's important to regularly do a "rescan".

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Showcase TV
Friday 12 April 2013 5:34PM

To Ron Fletcher: A jb38 suggests, the critical factor you have wrong is that it's HORIZONTAL polarisation. Do a rescan again, but ensure you have set the H parameter!

Get that right, and the critical parameter you'll pick up is SID 53280... but the channel name will also be there. The FEC 2/3 IS important, but may be a default on your box, as also the Symbol rate of 27500.

Your box will also be picking up OLD labels. The Channel No. on your Ross box is totally arbitrary, other than what you need to refer to personally to get the channel, and you can move it.

Finally, a very common problem people have is forgetting to SAVE the new channels found. The Scan does not generally re-save them, unless you tell it to.

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I think there's a bit of confusion re how regionalisation differs between Freeview and Sky (and how the costs vary).

Freeview (DTT) uses transmitters all over the country, which ONLY have relatively local reach. To broadcast a national DTT channel is very expensive, since ALL transmitters will be required. Conversely, its relatively cheap to broadcast a local channel, since the same frequencies can be used for dozens of local stations across the country without interference.

Sky and Freesat (satellite) by its nature has nationwide coverage. It costs as much to broadcast nationwide, even though the target audience may only be local. In order to provide different local services on the SAME channel (EPG) number, Sky has to utilise the software in the box to decide which variant of eg ITV1 is the default selection on EPG channel slot 103. It does this by postcode, which is set in the box at setup.

A regionalised satellite service like BBC1 or ITV1 requires that EACH variant is a separate 24/7 broadcast on satellite (even though the regional variation may be only an hour or so a day). You can, however get access on your Sky box to all the regional variants which arent directly visible on your EPG.

Sky charges the broadcaster extra for the regionalisation. These costs are additional to the actual transmission costs of each regional variant.

A 24/7 channel on Freeview costs (currently) around £6-8 Million a year and there are only a total of around 50 channels available (frequency spectrum constraints). A channel on satellite costs about £300K per year.. and there are many slots available currently around 800 on Sky since frequency spectrum is more freely available. In both cases, an HD channel costs 3 or 4 times the cost of an SD channel.

All of this means that Local TV is relatively cheap on DTT (Freeview), but relatively expensive on satellite (Sky). Thats why were not likely to see many of the LocalTV channels on Sky.

There are however 2 other possibilities that could make LocalTV more accessible on Skyand there are lots of reasons why viewers might want to see a LocalTV channel from the other end of the country.

One way, which Sky is offering, is to allow Local channels to be accessible via its broadband-delivered services, which are well integrated with the EPG. That does however require the viewer to have decent broadband.

The other is to use a single (or even a couple) of EPG channels which are organised so that the (nationally broadcast) programme switches in and out to specific Local channels at different times of the day. This indeed was the proposition put forward by some of the LocalTV licence applicants, but seems to have lost favour. In reality, the early proposals were a re-invention of ITV1, with spine-programmes of national interest for much of the day, with opt-outs for Local programmes. There are lots of reasons why this isnt a good idea.

As others have said, the big challenge for LocalTV, however it is distributed, is whether the business models are viable. Personally, Ive yet to see one that I believe is sustainable.

While the public says it wants LocalTV, they are not prepared to watch it in the numbers, or for the amount of time, that makes a 24/7 channel viable.

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Friday 29 November 2013 1:56PM

steve Hewitt:

Steve, I suggest that first you try swapping over the outputs of the splitter. If nothing changes, then the problem is either your cable lead to the secondary set, or the secondary TV set itself, whose amplifier is less sensitive than your master set.

If it's possible, then try connecting the cables at the TV end the other way round. The quality of the cable, plus its length, can lead to significant signal loss. Also, avoid any joints in the extension connection.

If you are able to swap the cables around, and the bedroom TV is STILL unable to pick up the signal, then it's pretty clear that it's the TV that's the problem, and isn't sensitive enough. The only remedy then would be to change your aerial run so that the bedroom TV has the shortest run from your aerial.

Active splitters are available that provide variable gain on each feed. But that's a potentially expensive experiment that still might not work.

The other thing to check is that your aerial cables don't go near any sources of interference (DECT phones, microwaves etc). This is a common cause of problems for satellite connections, but I'm less familiar with the impact on terrestrial aerial feeds.

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Showcase TV
Thursday 16 October 2014 10:12AM

Showcase 1 (on Sky 191 and Freesat 400) was renamed IRISH TV on October 6th. (For those without Sky or Freesat boxes, the transmission details are unchanged, except for the name of the channel).

Foster and Allen programmes are on Tuesdays 9pm, with repeats on Saturday afternoons 2pm and Sunday evenings 8pm.

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There's merit in all the possibilities being mooted (and a few others) to replace the TV Licence.

What hasn't been recognised though, is that governments rarely, if ever, walk away from existing tax-raising measures. They just transfer them elsewhere.

The TV licence has indeed become an anachronism, and now sits in the same group as things like National Insurance and Vehicle Tax - ways of raising money, but not actually connected to government expenditure , except in name.

The BBC will continue to be funded by government, come what may. . What the BBC needs to do whatever job the current (new) government decides might well be quite different from the 'tax' raised.

The TV "tax" will raise at least £4 Billion a year. Given the digital era, there are lots of ways the tax could be "nominally" be spent - on funding culture and the arts; on simplifying copyright compensation for rights holders who don't see payments for the use of their source material; subsidising broadband rollout where uneconomic; for funding disability access to all sorts of things; for innovation to help Britain maintain its worldwide stature in the creative industries.... But all these are just a means of government getting reasonable acceptance that turning the 'voluntary' licence fee into a tax that is easier to collect and could quietly be used to raise extra cash to spend on new areas.

There's little point in people debating whether they get what they individually perceive as "value" for the new tax, whether it's broadband speed or their lack of interest in BBC programmes.

Basicly, everyone will get access to whatever the BBC is funded by government to provide as a public service. And we'll stop all the nonsense of detector vans, criminal prosecutions and arguments that "I never watch the BBC".

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Here's a good precursor to the coming debates, with a concise background as to how the BBC fits into the parliamentary, legislative and industry structure, written by Tony Ballard, a media lawyer: Media Law International

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Should Ofcom regulate the BBC?
Wednesday 27 May 2015 7:39AM

Brian, sorry, but I think you're wrong on several accounts in your lead article:

The BBC Trust is judge, jury and appeal court, and anything but "independent" of its chums at BBC Centre. Worst of all, the complaints process it administers is woefully lacking in transparency (try pursuing a complaint about a BBC broadcast). If it does finally manage to find fault in a programme, its normal course of action is "remind the producer not to do it again..." .

Very serious BBC failures (and don't let's pretend the BBC hasn't misled viewers and distorted the truth on several significant as well as minor issues) get brushed under the carpet of the BBC investigation process, sometimes even for years, before they are quietly leaked out when everyone's forgotten what the issue was.

Its own new Chairwoman has said the BBC Trust is "not fit for purpose". She's right.

In principle, the Programme Content Standards Rules which Ofcom uses to govern all other channels apply equally to the BBC (as they do to the other Public Service Broadcasters). So the BBC has, in effect, a duplication of Ofcom regulatory activity inside itself. Only the BBC "licence" is different - as has been separately laid out in terms of the Royal Charter.

It's also wrong to say that Ofcom is a route of appeal if your complaint against the BBC is not handled satisfactorily. Ofcom has only limited jurisdiction over BBC programmes - see "How to Complain" on the Ofcom website.

I do agree with you that Ofcom is a pretty good regulator. And we do need a broadcast regulator. I have two main complaints about Ofcom, however:

A core part of Ofcom's brief is supposed to be to support the creative industries in the UK - which are an enormous contributor to the UK economy. In recent years, Ofcom has largely walked away from this part of its remit, focusing instead largely on "consumer protection" from harm, offence, etc. Understandable, perhaps, when part of the Tory manifesto two elections ago suggested cutting Ofcom down to a 5-man executive.

Although Ofcom is supposedly "independent", don't forget where its funding comes from and who appoints the Minsisters to oversee it - the government of the day. Witness how Ofcom's treatment of Sky has changed over the years under each new government. But political interference isn't Ofcom's fault.

My other beef re Ofcom is that I don't know another regulator that doesn't oblige consumers to FIRST complain to the broadcaster (the supplier!) before subsequently complaining to the Regulator only if they are not satisfied with the response. So we have a regime where it's so easy to throw a complaint into Ofcom just because you don't like a programme (and apparently can't find the 'off' button). Many complaints received from Ofcom are from viewers who haven't even seen the programme, but "heard about it..." and don't like it. Crazy.

Ofcom is well able to, and should, regulate the BBC in all matters as with other broadcasters - except with regard to the BBC's Royal Charter. Allowing Ofcom to regulate the BBC is only fair to all other broadcasters, who are in effect subject to a different regulatiory regime from that which applies to the BBC..

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