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All posts by Martin nr Sudbury

Below are all of Martin nr Sudbury's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.

Are the frequencies shown on this page definitely correct for Sudbury as of today 7/1/12? I ask as I am trying to make sure I get a Windows Media Centre set up correctly and the frequencies here seem to contradict what the Ofcom switchover document says:

BBC A Ofcom: 44 here: 44
D3&4 Ofcom: 41 here: 41
BBC B Ofcom: 47 here: 47
SDN(A)Ofcom: 49 here: 49 (will move June 2012)
Arq A Ofcom: 60- here: 54
Aeq B Ofcom: 56 here: 50+

As you can see you disagree on Arq A and Arq B.

I can see so many signals where I am (aprrox 10 miles North of Sudbury) that signal strength at any moment is very variable so I want to tune to the definitive signals off Sudbury which is on average the most reliable signal.


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HD Channels do not appear to have moved on the Sudbury Transmitter as of 18:00.

Are they REALLY moving or is this another red herring?

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The reason why the BBC "subscriber management" is so much lower is that it is compulsory - i.e. you go to prison if you do not pay them even if you do not want/use there services.

As for those low viewing figure channels quoted on Sky - they are premium ones you only get if you pay an extra subscription: viewing figures are not relevant, if the company makes money from them that is all that matters, no one was forced to pay for them. Unlike BBC4 which is bundled with all TV services at no extra charge (it's not free).

I find it increasingly difficult to think of a single reason why we should force people to pay a TV tax and threaten them with prison if they don't. That is the point: not can/do the BBC make good or popular programmes, but why on earth ANY programme is worth forcing people to pay for it.

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An amusing set of articles but I think quite biased to the conservative (with small c) view that there can be no change in the BBC and that we still need it in some way to deliver quality broadcasting.

The US has shown with its subscription channels (HBO, Showtime, AMC et al) that quality drama can be very profitable and even produce better output than the so called gold standard of the BBC (where is a UK equivalent of something as innovative as The Wire or Breaking Bad?). There is clearly no need for it for mass popular programming - yes its programmes are popular but in no way distinctive from commercial channels and is a criminal (or even civil) sanction really necessary just to fund Strictly Come Dancing?

That just leaves News where the BBC is stuck in a soft left editorial line domestically that purports to be balance domestically while internationally its services are losing ground where it matters to channels like Al Jazeera.

Now none of that means I think the BBC is bad - I just think forcing people to pay for a broadcaster with strong arm tactics (whether by threat of prison as it is today or by sending in bailiffs it it s converted to a civil penalty) is ludicrous in today's multichannel and on demand world.

Unlike this article, I think that if the BBC were turned into a commercial public service broadcaster (or broadcasters - it might be better split up) it might even make more money. Of course the possibility of mistake is there - the scenario you describe here would be the worst case of just simply turning the old BBC into one big subscription service that pays for everything is still old school thinking. How about instead a mix of packages and free to air advertising supported services and on demand PPV? A core "quality" subscription a lower than today's licence fee for what is now BBC2, BBC4 and Radio 3 and Radio 4 with all programmes also available to all on demand (for a fee for non subscribers). Then a "popular" channel mix (BBC1, BBC3, Radio 1 and 2) supported by advertising but perhaps also with the option of an advertising free version available by subscription and similarly all available on demand with PPV option if no subscription.

Similarly Children's programming could be a similar hybrid model (free to air with advertising, subscription without, on demand with PPV for non subscribers).

Sport: well frankly I think the BBC only survives here because the market is stacked in its favour, but if it is as good as myth has it then surely it would be able to compete with its own hybrid funded channels as described for the popular channels above?

That just leaves News which is a simple decision - do we want to fund what is basically a propaganda service from taxation - probably yes for international services but does that make sense domestically? Or is the BBC News gathering organisation as good as myth has us believe? In which case it ought to be able to easily compete with the likes of Reuters, CNN and Al Jazeera not to mention Sky or ITN in the market.

Incidentally there is another change I would like to see in the UK market and regulation - that would be to separate channel production from distribution. This would mean splitting Sky (and possibly Virgin too) into two parts like happened for BT with OpenReach. The distribution and conditional access business being completely separate from content. This would mean content owners would not be locked into Sky's terms if they wanted to use its satellite CA. It would also likely drive down Sky's end to end pricing as other providers would be able to offer similar bundles at competing prices on the same equipment.

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MikeB et al: I deliberately took an "idealogical" line that was provocative because one of the real problems the BBC faces is that it only really has the trust of parties of the left. I don't think it is hard line left wing, more its internal culture is hugely biased in favour of state led, non market based solutions to things and this seeps through to its editorial, choice of story and interview approach. Ironically the other thing it is heavily biased towards is a the Monarchy - about 20% of people in the country support abolition of the monarch but you would never know it from its output (well not unless you listen out for a tiny sound bite for "balance" in an otherwise implicitly pro -royal broadcast).

Outside that though, I do think the idea of a compulsory payment for to fund just one broadcaster in a free market has two fundamental problems. One is simple - forcing people to pay a licence fee, whether by criminal sanction or bailiffs, seems just immoral to me. The other is that because of its large funding it heavily distorts the market and makes it more difficult for others to operate.

Think of it like this. Imagine it was decided that we needed a public service Mobile Phone because Apple and Google are not British so we made every one who had a mobile phone pay a licence fee that went t fund it. We then gave one of those phones to everyone regardless of whether they wanted it or already had a phone they preferred. Would that be fair t the other manufactures? You might say that it would be ok because the other Eastern companies are evil American and Far Eastern Companies that do not understand British needs, but then what if a great British manufacturer wanted to get in the market (say an amazing Dyson Phone)? They probably would not even try or if they did would have an even bigger hill to climb in their home market than just what is globally a very competitive market.

But putting aside the question of whether we want the BBC at all in its current form there are other ways we could fund it that are not from a licence fee. Probably the easiest would be a levy on broadband connections and/or CA payments but things like a levy on turnover of companies delivering content in to the UK (this gets harder and harder to define though as be move away from linear OTA broadcasting).

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bob: I agree with most of what you say but on one point you are inaccurate. BBC WorldWide actually is a significant net income generator for the BBC. Last year it brought in the equivalent of about 20% of the licence fee. That is one reason I think it ludicrous to argue it could not survive in the market - in fact it already has some very profitable assets. Of course it would be different and some parts may disappear altogether, but like you I think the days when we could justify a compulsory subscription for TV are long gone. It may have just made some sense when bandwidth was limited and therefore an effective monopoly but today that does not apply.

As for things like salaries - I don't care what people get paid (even if for things like footballers it seems laughably high to me) as long as I have a choice in where I spend my money. I never watch football so am no contributing to their pay (except where the BBC pays for rights :-) ) so it does not affect me. It's the same for every other media outlet - I get to choose if I pay for them or consume their advertising.

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2050 Tube Map | Affiliated (blog)
Monday 8 September 2014 2:31PM

Great piece of work. A couple of comments:
I doubt HS1 and HS2 would ever actually be included in TfL "Tube Map" as they are long distance services and not incorporated in the shared fare system (or at least HS1 is not, we don't yet know for HS2).

Also since you included Thameslink (which was briefly on the map but is now off again), I think you ought to show that the new Blackfriers Station has access from both sides of the Thames - at least for mainline and Thameslink tracks if not for tube. Now there's as challenge as I think that is unique for London stations!

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At some point in the past the SNP has said it would honour existing broadcasting contracts until expire and then would re-licence. Similarly for the BBC it has in the past said it would respect the current charter until it expires and then would expect it to hand over the the SBS.

Of course all of that could get changed in the process of what I suspect would be quite fraught independence negotiations. I think the BBC assets and licence fee will be the hardest but Channel 4 is also state owned so will be in the mix for division of assets as well.

Going forward untangling pre-independence rights to content will be "interesting" (e.g. if (say) ITV had purchased rights for a programme in perpetuity for "UK" broadcast). Given how IPR tracking is already such a major pain for most media companies I suspect independence will do little for reducing anyone's costs but will please lawyers on both sides of the border.

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It seems to me, no-one really wants to ask the hard question: what is the BBC for?

It seems to me that the only rational justification for a compulsory tax given to just one broadcaster is to do the things the market does not do but are somehow considered a universal good.

If we deconstruct this, it used to be argued the BBC was the only way quality drama got made, not nasty populist stuff. Yet today, while the BBC still makes good programmes, it cannot claim a monopoly of good output - in fact I think one could argue it has been left behind by US subscription and internet makers like HBO, Showtime, ANC and NETFLIX.

Similarly in sport - once the BBC was felt necessary to ensure "national" sporting events got coverage, yet again that is clearly no longer the case. Yes the BBC still does a good job but its fund are such that it often is behind its commercial rivals. Perhaps sport would actually be better served by not having the BBC do it at all and regulating for free to air access for those supposed "national" events?

Similar arguments can be made on things like the arts, yet again we now have whole channels devoted to them that do as good (if not better) jobs of covering niche material.

So that finally leave The News. It is often argued the BBC is the gold standard of unbiased coverage with unrivalled worldwide news gathering. Yet the "unbiased" is clearly not true: in the name of spurious "balance" it veers between bland no reporting and biased coverage to plate whoever last called foul against them. Just look at the current controversy around UKIP - the BBC went from treating them as fringe party worthy of little but a joke to now being accused of ever coverage by virtually all other parties. And can we really say the BBC on screen news does a better job than ITV News, Channel 4 News, Sky News or Al Jazeera?

Now none of that says the BBC is bad. In fact I think it is (generally) very good at what it does, but I cannot honestly see how we can justify the compulsion element any longer. My own view is that it would have better future as some sort of independent organisation or even split up. I am pretty sure the Drama output would survive in its own right (just look at how well BBC Worldwide does). Similarly news gathering is first class, and may, if freed from its government shackles, do even better providing either its own channels globally or perhaps as a source provider like Reuters. Perhaps keep The World Service as a state global propaganda arm funded by the Foreign Office as it was until the last charter settlement.

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Connected Freeview comes a step closer today
Thursday 27 November 2014 2:33PM

Way too late, even low end connected Smart TVs already let people access most of these services as do cheap plug-ins like Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV or Rokus. The only thing this proposal has going for it, is the Freeview brand and the likelihood some technology laggards will just get it when they buy a new STB or PVR.

What the market needs is not yet another platform trying to skim off a bit of the "content" revenue for online services but some agreement of standards so that all devices can access all services.

Currently we are in what is effectively a "format wars" stage where all the players want their platform to win so they get the revenue on paid for content.

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