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Television Media

BBC to Try TV On Demand 533

Shevek writes "The UK Independent newspaper is reporting on a new BBC trial: 'Later this month, the BBC will launch a pilot project that could lead to all television programmes being made available on the internet. Viewers will be able to scan an online guide and download any show. Programmes would be viewed on a computer screen or could be burned to a DVD and watched on a television set. Alternatively, programmes could be downloaded to a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) ... By launching iMP, the BBC hopes to avoid being left at the mercy of a software giant such as Microsoft, which could try to control the gateway to online television.' Yet more proof that the BBC license fee is an unmitigated Good Thing(TM)."
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BBC to Try TV On Demand

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  • by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:53PM (#9041784)
    The down side of this is that the test launch is limited to BBC employees only. Not only that, the employees all get a PDA capable of viewing the shows.

    Who do I have to blow to work for a company that hands out PDAs with 512 meg CF to all its employees, just so they can watch TV at work!?

  • Yeah, (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:54PM (#9041793)
    The BBC License Fee is great if it means that us Americans can get all that great programming without having to pay for it! :-)
    • Re:Yeah, (Score:3, Informative)

      by l-ascorbic ( 200822 )
      The BBC channels are available for free via satellite, but they are still encrypted. You need a smartcard to view them, which they will only send to UK licence-paying addresses. They may do similar for this.
      • Re:Yeah, (Score:3, Informative)

        by farnz ( 625056 )
        They're no longer encrypted; the BBC has moved to Astra 2D, which is very difficult to receive in Europe, so they are now happy to leave them unscrambled (hence no need for a smartcard).
    • Re:Yeah, (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Attaturk ( 695988 ) *
      This will probably turn into a bit of an off-topic rant so feel free to mod me down if you like but this is a good a chance as any to get this off my chest.

      Firstly the qualification: I'm a Brit - and I'm far from an anti-American one, although that sort of thing is definitely on the increase over here.

      As flippant as it was, the parent poster actually has a point. On top of my taxes I pay a license fee so that the BBC can provide its (undeniably) excellent services to the world. Its largely English l
      • Re:Yeah, (Score:3, Funny)

        by CdBee ( 742846 )
        Selam, attaturk :-p

        I bet the service will be set up so that Americans can only get series 1 and 2 of "The Good Life" and Noels House Party
        I hope it is, anyway.
  • by Grant29 ( 701796 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:55PM (#9041804) Homepage
    TV on demand is the future, once you get a taste of it, it's hard to go back.. Luckily for the content providers, TIVO and ReplayTV have already demonstrated the market. Sure TIVO isn't really TV on demand, but it helped define the market.

    Hot deals! []
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:00PM (#9041875)
      what helped define the market for me was BitTorrent. There was nothing like being able to download TV shows from the night before while at work, and watch them during the time of day when all that is on are reruns of older shows.

      I was able to watch them without interruption, in great quality (as I refuse to subscribe to CATV or buy a double-fucking digital receiver), at my choice of when to watch it.

      I really think that it would be an excellent idea for it to be brought here and used by the major networks. I suppose they would never accept it because of the possible loss in ad revenues... Sad really.
      • Look, what you're doing here is taking something that cost money to make, and enjoying it for free. Not paying for cable TV or watching ads means you're leeching stuff for free, while the rest of us pay for it. Copyright violation isn't a something to be proud of you know - just because you don't like to pay or watch ads doesn't make what you're doing right.
      • by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:50PM (#9042493) Homepage Journal
        My fear for this idea is that the media moguls in Hollywood will view it as another inroad to piracy rather than as a moneymaking opportunity.

        For example, we have this entire ad based economy that works off of estimates of how many people see an ad. Estimates, because they know how many people watch a show (the Neilson ratings are accurate enough for that) but they don't know how many people actually watch (and pay attention to) the ads. The same goes for magazines and newspapers, where subscription numbers feed the advertisers fantasy of how many eyeballs they are reaching. Compare that with the Internet, where you can know exactly how many people clicked though to a web paged based on a banner ad. In the latter case you know that someone was interested in your product (or not). You can even know how many people went on to buy the product as a result of the ad. That certainty I think actually hurts Internet advertising, since it gives the seller of the ad very little wiggle room about how much to charge for the ad.

        The reality is that most advertising is relatively ineffective. Content on demand dispels the myth, and there are quite a few people who don't want that myth dispelled.

        The flip side is this: If we had media on demand everywhere right now, and advertising built into the content, you would select a program, and while watching it see ads, just as you do now. But would you record the program on Tivo in order to watch the program later without the ads? I don't think most people would. The ability to watch something exactly when and where you wanted to would be too compelling to going back to the TV-guide sort of planning process that people do now.

        The trick is, finally, to educate people who pay for ads about how valuable those click throughs are compared to a nebulous subscriber count. I don't know if the BBC experiment will do this, but I hope adoption of content on demand elswhere will convice the relatively thick skulled people in Hollywood that they may be missing out on a good thing. That will release a lot of lawyers to do more productive work perhaps.
    • by TexVex ( 669445 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:09PM (#9042000)
      I used to use TiVo, and now I use a homebrew system built around SageTV []. The thing continuously records TV from my cable box. Whenever possible it grabs shows off my "favorites" list. Over time it builds up a library, because not only does it go after first runs of my preferred shows, but it gets reruns as well.

      Because you can fast-forward through commercials, over time I've gotten in the habit of never bothering to watch TV "live". Instead, I just let it record and whenever I feel in the mood I go catch up on some of my TV watching. While this is not TV "on demand" is is definitely the next best thing. I always have a huge selection of things in the library to watch. It's more like "on demand with limited selection based on configurable preferences".

      All that being said, I can place a dollar value on on-demand television, based on what I pay per month for my cable service and how many shows I watch per month. I would happily pay $1 per hour of standard network/cable network TV if I could have it on demand and commerical-free, $2 per episode of premium-channel series shows (like Dead Like Me or Deadwood or Carnivale), $3 for a movie, and $4 for a new release movie.
  • They already have... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bcmm ( 768152 )
    the bbc already has a thing for the latest news, at reasonable quality.
    • the bbc already has a thing for the latest news, at reasonable quality.

      The iMP project is not purely for news output, but for all BBC TV output; it's going to be available to UK broadband users only - people outside the UK will be able to continue to use the news [] and BBCi [] services as now.
    • Change to and you're correct.
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:56PM (#9041822)

    I am not an active TV watcher - I have it on most of the time, but only passively. If I have to "make" it work by "demanding" it, I'm likely to find another source that's easier - a "flip-the-switch-and-go" kind of thing.
    • Obviously this isn't designed for you. You can stick with the old style, I'm sure it won't go away for some time yet. Some people (I would say a lot of people) have particular programs they want to watch, and would like to decide when to watch them.
    • So do you not have a vcr either? Never rented a movie?

      Wouldn't it be much better if you could just "flip-the-switch-and-go" watch your favorite show at any time of the day or night, instead of watching the skipper hit gilligan with his hat for the 3000th time?
  • by GraWil ( 571101 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:56PM (#9041823)
    I lived in the UK for 4 years and just returned to Canada. I only wish the CBC was as good as the BBC. I do find their style of news to be way to similar to the big, sensational US news outlets but, otherwise, the content is great! Heck, I'd probably even pay my license fee from Canada!
    • If you think you've got it bad in Canada with CBC, you should come hang out in America and check out ABC.

      Even fox is better. As much as I can't stand fox, at least they've got the simpsons.
  • License fee (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr100percent ( 57156 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:57PM (#9041837) Homepage Journal
    Just to remind everyone, the BBC license fee is a tax on every television set in the UK.

    (I don't live in the UK, but I would pay it if I could get this kind of innovation)

    • Re:License fee (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Uh, no totally wrong. You pay the license fee for recieving the BBC services (actually, a small slice goes to local TV stations of commercial nature). You pay 110GBP a year for it, and that licenses your whole house for that year. You can have as many sets as you want. However, you can purchase a TV without any tax apart from VAT (sales tax to you americans). The TV licensing people will work out if you are trying to flunk the paying the license fee as most places now require you to fill in your address
      • Re:License fee (Score:2, Informative)

        by sjgm ( 769067 )

        All retailers must [] obtain your details if you're buying a TV. Most retailers will also take your details for a video recorder as well (as it implies that you have a TV).

    • Re:License fee (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tango42 ( 662363 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:06PM (#9041956)
      Actually, no. It's a tax on every household with a TV set in the UK. You can have as many TVs as you like, you still only pay once. I'm not sure of the system for businesses though. (NB: I live the UK)
    • Re:License fee (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoonBuggy ( 611105 )
      I would pay it if I could get this kind of innovation

      I am in the UK and I am wishing that this can be true but having read the article the cynic in me wouldn't count on getting this yet. Firstly, the trial they have proposed is only to see if the system is feasible, it's not saying that it will definitely go public. It also says that after the initial 500 BBC employees try it out then it will be made available to 'AOL, BT and Tiscali broadband subscribers', this interests me since I am assuming that the
      • Disclaimer: I work for the beeb, but all views expressed here are my own

        You should not be so cynical. The BBC is the world's leading broadcaster and this is definitely going to happen, the trial is to look at the specific technologies involved, the beeb already knows this is feasible. Ashley Highfield gave a very interesting interview [] to a while back, the most telling quote from which, for me, was "We need to help consumers leap-frog the illegal downloading issues that have wrecked havoc on
  • Trouble is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:57PM (#9041840)
    They'll go and use RealMedia or WMV and still be at the mercy of some other company.

    I doubt they'll use XVID or other open standards. Would be fairly neutral if they released MPEG-2 files, however these would be gigantic.
    • Re:Trouble is (Score:5, Informative)

      by Motor ( 104119 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:00PM (#9041863)
      So maybe there's more to Dirac [] than just a cool open source project.
    • Read Slashdot Often? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You might be interested in /.'s BBC coverage from last week then, in which the BBC has created an open source, wavelet-based codec which ramps from low to high throughput with better than MPEG2 video quality.
      • Well I missed that one, but given their current track record (they use RM/RA and WMA/WMV), I do wonder if they'll use their own codec. The BBC needs to raise more money than is provided by the TV license and so they're always looking for funding. Suppose Microsoft or Real provide them with money to persuade them to use their codec, would they turn that down?

    • ms drm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by maharg ( 182366 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:17PM (#9042090) Homepage Journal
      from / :

      The most significant revelations were concerning the protection of the content. All content will be DRM'd, only available for a limited period time, once downloaded. As expected, it will also only be available to UK broadband users. In a break with the BBC's long-standing support of Real, Microsoft DRM will be used for the technical trial, but it appears that no final decision has been made.

      As was known previously, the EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) will cover fourteen days; seven looking forward and seven backward. The programs that have been broadcasted will be downloadable to the computer simply by clicking on them. A preview of a piece can be watched before committing to download a complete show.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:57PM (#9041843)
    The BBC will likely do something to limit the International use of this service, as having the shows freely availalbe over the Web might negatively impact their ability to sell their programs in other places, and some of the shows aired by the BBC belong to other companies and they want the exclusive rights to the show in their home territory.

    The article refers to this being a challenge, but one they plan on getting over...
    • Indeed. I expect they will do a similar thing to their BBC Broadband streaming thing, where they peer with ISPs which means little to no bandwidth costs and also means that you have to be in the UK. Good idea i think.
    • I don't get the BBC on my regular old cable. This would give me a chance to watch some of their shows. If people like their shows in an area then maybe they could expand into that market and already have an audience.
    • I freely admit that the main reason I pay for satellite programming in the US is to get BBC America. I'd be willing to drop back to a minimal package (so I still got Food Network, HGTV, TLC and the Discovery Channel), if I could get BBC shows over the internet.

      As I see it, I'd get more offerings (not just the stuff that's on BBC America, as it'd be all BBC programming), it'd be more current (eg, Coupling when it airs in the UK... no delay before it's shown on BBC America), and I could set my own relative
  • Freedom of Choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tobechar ( 678914 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:58PM (#9041844)

    It is great to see a company that is willing to provide choice to its customers.

    Perhaps this will force American media companies to offer a few better options to their customers.

  • by dj42 ( 765300 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:58PM (#9041850) Journal
    It's a considerable boon to the future of de-centralized media to see a company like the BBC giving this a shot. If Internet users can acclimate towards using an Internet-based tv show broadcasting service, that could put media in the hands of those that deserve it, rather than those that have money and/or are already established as major players in the media industry. i.e. web sites like Slashdot could begin to leverage their user-base into targetted commercial ads, allowing the formation of "television" style shows online. Plus, the last thing we need is a software company like MS in control of the media because it's software is the platform to connect to all the sundries of devices.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't want to split hairs here; but it's the British Broadcasting "Corporation" not *company. And they aren't even a corporation in that sense. They are a governmental body, funded through the TV licence in the UK.

      In other words, it isn't a "company" bringing us this innovation it's the socialistic government enterprise of an advanced european welfare-state.

      No, this isn't a communist vs capitalist troll, it's just an area where capitalist media organisations (in their current incarnation) just have too
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lindec ( 771045 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:59PM (#9041860) Homepage
    This is an interesting move, especially considering the events transpiring regarding digital televion, TV ripping and the like. I find it refreshing and interesting that while the recording industries (namely the MPAA) push broadcast flag legislation through, in an attempt to end behavior like this, the BBC makes it computer viewable. Also, sites that are providing ED2K links and torrents to TV Rips are beginning to feel the wrath of the DMCA, so I wonder how much this will change things? Probably not much... but hey, I try to be optimistic.
    • <LewisBlack>Hey look! There [common sense] goes!</LewisBlack>

      While American companies are busy suing their market, those crazy Brits are looking for ways to give customers what they want.

  • by aardwolf204 ( 630780 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:00PM (#9041871)
    But all TV programs are already available on the net,

    #tv-torrents []

    • Even though a lot of popular American programs are available illegally on the net, there isn't currently a reliable way to get BBC-produced TV programs (although I'm sure they do exist, they're just nowhere near as common). Even if they were though, the fact remains that most current TV downloads are illegal. As a BBC license-fee payer, I would love to be able to obtain episodes legally like this, and it's good to see that the BBC seems to have their customers interests in mind.
  • Great idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:01PM (#9041881) Homepage Journal
    That way I can watch just the BBC shows I like and only pay for what I want to watch.

    No more paying for Video Tape or DVD copies of BBC shows and waiting for them to ship. Just pay and download, and then burn my own copy to a Video CD or DVD disk. I guess they have controls so that only one copy can be burned?

    Video Rental stores ought to get into this gig, get the license to distribute the movies digitally and sell them on their website.

    Might as well, would be a much better quality than those idiots who bring video cameras to movie theatres and then upload those videos to file sharing networks. ;)
  • by flyingdisc ( 598575 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:01PM (#9041892)
    In the UK, if you own a TV you are required by law the pay the 100 pound licence fee each year. Only if you are able to demonstrate that you don't own a TV are the fees waived.

    This will raise some intersting questions: Apart from resulting in nonTV owners (and hence non licience payers) accessing the BBC it would this not lead to much wider dissemination of the BBC TV outside the UK. Wouldn't this damage the existing syndication relationships that the BBC has set up. I am amased that any broadcaster risk distribution over the internet. Certainty thinking outside the box.

    • "Wouldn't this damage the existing syndication relationships that the BBC has set up."

      Anything would be an improvement upon the Beeb's current foreign distribution deals. BBC WorldWide priced "Doctor Who" so high that even BBC America won't even show it (anymore). In the early 90s, the same thing happened to the PBS affiliates which caused "Doctor Who" from being shown all across America to nothing in a blink of an eye. Now all PBS seems to be able to show from the Beeb are endless repeats of "Are You B
  • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:01PM (#9041893)
    It's about time. The only way I watch TV any more is through downloads or season DVD's who has the time to play the network games when they bounce your favorite shows around every other week chasing ratings numbers.
  • by MysticalMatt517 ( 772389 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:01PM (#9041894) Homepage
    We recently dropped our cable subscription down to the $10 /mth 19 channel deal, and we're thinking about dropping that. The problem is that we only ever watched one or two channels and we didn't get enough viewing time to make it worth our $99 /mth cable bill.

    I would love to be able to just watch the shows that I want, when I want them, and pay strictly for what I watch. I don't want to pay for a bunch of crap I don't want. Why should I be forced to buy HGTV when I'm an overweight fat slob who spends 99% of his day behind a keyboard? All I wanted was Tech Tv (although it's gone downhill bigtime).
    • "Why should I be forced to buy HGTV when I'm an overweight fat slob who spends 99% of his day behind a keyboard? All I wanted was Tech Tv (although it's gone downhill bigtime)."

      At the expense of this being labeled "Redundant" or "Off Topic," you might want to check out what Senator McCain is trying to do. He's trying to make the FCC require "a la carte" cable pricing so you only pay for the channels you want.

      As for TechTV, I just became acquainted with it since moving up to digital cable. Even though Co
  • by Bimo_Dude ( 178966 ) <bimoslash&theness,org> on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:03PM (#9041916) Homepage Journal
    Even though I am American, I would happily pay the 121 pound annual license fee. [] IMHO, the BBC programming is much more intellectually stimulating, and costs far less, than cable/satellite TV in this country. Most of the shows I do actually watch are BBC productions that are airing on PBS.
    • I agree. I don't know why no cable company has worked out a deal with the Beeb yet to carry BBC1, BBC2, etc... I'm sure they could work out the financial details.

      BBC America is a joke. It's like PBS with commercials.
  • Broadcast flag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carvalhao ( 774969 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:03PM (#9041927) Journal
    There you have it!

    You don't need no restrictive technology to make money out of media content, just find an easy-to-use distribution vector and a fair price. Who will want to sweep through a couple of hundreds of low-res DiVx files on Kazaa to download a show when you can get it premium quality for a price this low?

    I wonder what is the ROI (Return on Investment) of the boradcast flag when compared to this...
  • I'm a big fan of BBC programming and reguarly download it from the Usenet currently (recent favorites: The Office and The Worst Week of My Life). Because this is based on UK licensing fees, I wonder if it will be available to those of us in the rest of the world? Or perhaps we can pay a small fee to be able to download these episodes as well? This is the way I hope TV is going. My schedule is such that I am in bed before most of the prime time TV is on so the only way to watch it is to download it (or
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:04PM (#9041943)
    TV and teeth on demand! How the hell did they lose the empire?
    • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) < minus poet> on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:42PM (#9042389)
      "TV and teeth on demand! How the hell did they lose the empire?"

      A half-century of practicing free trade while the US and Germany errected heavy tariffs on imports. Fighting two costly world wars that the United States waited until the very end to jump into. The rise of the US as a superpower. Colonial unrest. The constant flirtations with socializing industry post WWII. Sterling's collapse as the premiere world currency. James Bond's expensive STD treatments. All the Imperial Officers having British accents in the holy Star Wars trilogy. Star Trek's (TNG) IP theft of the Cybermen. Simon LeBon's yacht wreck. And Yoko Ono!

  • bit torrent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:06PM (#9041968)
    why not provide shows on bit torrent?

    is it because it's harder to advertise?

    would people be offended by short adverts played at the beginning of the video files? (eg This Bit Torrent file is brought to you by...)

    networks could distribute the seeds across their affiliates to reduce bandwidth cost, etc.
    • Alot of people here are offended if the title of a show merely contains the letters "a" and "d" in it.

    • Re:bit torrent (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Uber Banker ( 655221 )
      I may go against the sizeable /. groupthink and BT fanboys here, but I think BitTorrent sucks: dependency on a root node, very dodgy load balancing and poor optimisation of bandwidth.

      As a proof of concept and way of overcoming leeching it rocked, but it is not a mature P2P app, it is only half-finished...

      As for broadcasting BT is in no way suitable. Sure the BBC could solve the root node (going down) problem but if they want to get good throughput on a mass scale just use a broadcast protocal. Even
    • Adverts are the spawn of the Devil... noooooo don't go ruining BBC programs with adverts!!
  • I can only hope that this service gets extended to a wider (hint hint nudge nudge -- read US) audience. As a subscriber to BBC America and frequent traveller to the UK, all I can say is that BBC America is a sad and poor rip-off. I want the bite only the BBC can make, including "Have I Got News For You," "England's Dirtiest Homes," and real comedy like the original "Coupling" (not to be confused with the absurb American pap they tried to sell us over here).

    If it doesn't, I'm going to set up a home-made vi

    • by pommiekiwifruit ( 570416 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:59PM (#9042595)
      They have usually had as edgy/edgier programs than the BBC: Bremner Bird & Fortune, Queer as Folk, Shameless, Metrosexuality. Also Scrapheap challenge is a good home for Kryton.

      Of course lots of the good programs could never get shown on broadcast TV in the USA - they freak out over a single female nipple after all.

  • Great but a pity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:10PM (#9042010) Journal
    Yet more proof that the BBC license fee is an unmitigated Good Thing(TM).

    Just a pity they can't leave people the fuck alone if they don't want it. []
  • by $exyNerdie ( 683214 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:11PM (#9042017) Homepage Journal

    A couple of days ago, I clicked to view a video on BBC news website and it told me that I have to buy a subscription as international user. I was a bit surprised since so far, BBC had been free and even free from ads.

    This page [] says that: "Broadband video news from the BBC is only available to international users by subscription. Find out how to get the latest broadband video news from the BBC here [].

  • by no_choice ( 558243 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:11PM (#9042021)
    It doesn't explicitly say, but the tone of the article suggests that the BBC's mentality is not much different from the **AA bunch.

    "If we don't enter this market, then exactly what happened to the music industry could happen to us... everybody starts posting the content up there and ripping us off."

    What would be wrong with the public freely sharing the content? They are subsidizing the creation of it with their tax payments.

    Why don't allegedly "public" broadcasters, like the BBC in Brittan or PBS or NPR in the US, produce and release content under Creative Commons type, or other Free licences? That way the public could use, share, and redistribute the content freely. People could even re-edit the content and create new and interesting works. Wouldn't that be a good thing? Isn't the idea behind public broadcasting to serve the public, instead of seek profits?

    Instead, the "public" broadcasters have developed the same control-freak mentality of the rest of the media that effectively opposes the very idea of a public domain and favors every byte having a DRM restricted ownership sticker. If that is the case, what is the point of the public subsidizing these broadcasters... and why should they even exist?

    • The BBC in part funds it's creative content by licensing their content in other countries, and through videos of their old content.

      This money is vital for supporting new programmes.

      Ideally the BBC would release their material under free licenses, but this would impact the production of new material.

      Also not all the programmes shown on the BBC are produced by the BBC (for instance Have I Got News For You is made by Top Hat Productions).
  • Re:Me first (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SkunkPussy ( 85271 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:14PM (#9042053) Journal
    > Yet more proof that the BBC license fee is an unmitigated Good Thing(TM).

    WHY OH WHY are the only fuckers who realise this not resident in the UK? the public tide in this country (UK) is more anti than pro, and Labour/TB have been doing their level best to destroy the BBC's credibility*.
    I on the other hand am very pro-BBC. The only slight problem I have with it is that the fee is the same for everybody (i.e. a poll tax).

    * Whether or not Andrew Gilligan exaggerated his story, the government (and Alistair Campbell non-gov) made an enormous issue out of it in order to discredit the BBC, as the charter is coming up for renewal soon. The bastards.
    • "WHY OH WHY are the only fuckers who realise this not resident in the UK? the public tide in this country (UK) is more anti than pro, and Labour/TB have been doing their level best to destroy the BBC's credibility*.
      I on the other hand am very pro-BBC. The only slight problem I have with it is that the fee is the same for everybody (i.e. a poll tax)."

      Even though I do not support your political views, I will support you on the BBC license if it'll return the good Doctor on his quest to fight injustice throug
  • by iiioxx ( 610652 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:19PM (#9042112)
    Man, I hope this catches on in the U.S. with cable stations like Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel. Those two and a handful of others are the only reason I still subscribe to cable. And it pisses me off to no end that I have to pay $40/month for a "standard package" which includes 60 or so channels I DON'T watch.

    Individual cable broadcast companies taking this initiative will bring about the same effect as the a la carte cable service many Americans have been asking for. Anyone with broadband Internet access will have access to only the shows they want, on demand, and priced individually.

  • The only indication of quality in the article was this:

    Mr Highfield said the quality of the programmes will be so high that the experience of watching a show on a PDA will be similar to viewing an in-flight film on screens in the backs of seats on passenger aircraft.

    In-flight movies are not a real high bar to set..

    I would be interested in getting episodes of "The Office" this way, if they were available in their native 16:9 format (encoded in 16:9, not letterboxed), and in a quality comparable to DVD.
    • I would be interested in getting episodes of "The Office" this way, if they were available in their native 16:9 format (encoded in 16:9, not letterboxed), and in a quality comparable to DVD.

      Why don't you just buy the DVD? The show has finished now, it's all out on DVD.

  • by mst76 ( 629405 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:22PM (#9042154)
    There seem to be quite a few Americans here who think BBC produces better quality programs than US tv. But remember, when you view something from abroad, it is usually selected because it is the cream of the crop, it does not nessesarily reflect the overall quality of BBC television. I'm sure few of you would care to see hours of snooker or cricket. Likewise, foreign countries usually buy the best American shows. Foreigners who only see the Sopranos, West Wing, etc. may conclude that US tv is of pretty high quality.
  • Who? (Score:4, Funny)

    by thpdg ( 519053 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:22PM (#9042156) Journal
    Great, now I can start another lost episode of Dr. Who, when ever I want.
  • Why should paying a license fee to the government be inherently better than paying Microsoft? Or, in general, any closed source company?

    When I was in Europe, all I could say is "please god Please let me get back to my 500 channels of McDonalds, Wal-Marts, and pure-T drivel, because this shit I"m having to watch over here is BOR-ING."

    Government doesn't do a better job than private enterprise.
    • I don't mean to offend, but if you missed your 500 channels of drivel, why didn't your get cable or satellite? I lived for over a decade in the UK (and some time in Italy too) and saw quite a bit of boring TV, but always appreciated the BBC even when I had hundreds of channels at my click-and-call. Also, for the record, the while the BBC is a public service, it is not govenrment per se. It is independent - witnessed by the tendency of both Labour and Conservative governments to complain about it for bein
  • by scrotch ( 605605 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:26PM (#9042198)

    Isn't the BBC some kind of socialist, government supported thing?

    I thought only free-market, capitalist companies in competion innovated? That's what I was taught in my American public school. There's just no reason to improve if you've got a steady, government supported income. You have to be in blood thirsty battle for market dominance to justify doing anything other than resting on your laurels and IP rights. Right?

    Where's the innovation in product from the American networks?
    Where's customer focus from American media?
    Where's the desire to satisfy customer desire in America?

    (It's sarcasm. I love my country.)
    • Shhhh, it's a secret but innovation is a people thing and nothing to do with styles of commerce.

      There is still a huge problem to be solved. It costs over $1M an hour to produce quality TV. If there is no way to recover that cost why would anybody invest the money?

      Perhaps a compromise is in order. Drastically reduce the copyright period (say to 7 years without exception) and in return put up with a working DRM for material still in copyright. Any material older than 7 years becomes public domain and fre
    • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @02:16PM (#9042813)
      Years ago, the BBC ran a series of adverts on BBC2 (and perhaps BBC1, I forget), the basic message of which was that the licence fee allows them to experiment.

      Because they're guaranteed at least some money no matter what they do, they can spend some of it trying out new stuff. Now, this was long before the net became a household word, and they were specifically referring to new programs, but the same applies.

      Because they're not entirely beholden to fickle viewers and advertisers, they can afford to experiment sometimes, and without experimentation, there can be no innovation.

      For the record, though, they are beholden to the Government, who occasionally make threatening noises about the licence fee (as do the Opposition). They also have to abide by a charter, although I've not read it, so I can't comment as to what it says.
  • all the British men (and boys for that matter) reading this story today. Sounds like an interesting idea.

    *But* stop wasting the license fee on silly shit like this and get us Premiership Football back on our screens. When I can settle down to Liverpool vs. Middlesborough without having the dread hand of Robert Murdoch in my wallet, then we can talk innovation and about a shiny bright little future.

    The BBC have no sense of what the priorities of 30 million of their customers are.

    • Screw that, if you want football pay for it your self. BBC should be putting money into actual useful things, not wasting it on over-inflated royalty fees and eventually footballers wallets. Just because the masses want something doesnt mean the BBC has to listen, it doesnt work like that, thats what a commercial station is for.
  • Why No Advertising ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The BBC is not permitted to carry advertising or sponsorship on its public services. This keeps them independent of commercial interests and ensures they can be run instead to serve the general public interest.

    If the BBC sold airtime either wholly or partially, advertisers and other commercial pressures would dictate its programme and schedule priorities. There would also be far less revenue for other broadcasters.

    The BBC is financed instead by a TV licence paid by households. This gua
  • I want my EastEnders (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mgkimsal2 ( 200677 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:44PM (#9042407) Homepage
    and if this is the best way to get it, I'm all for it.

    BBC - PLEASE make EE available via a pay-for mechanism (reasonable pricing please!) to those of us outside the UK. Your namesake BBCAmerica has seen fit to cancel it last year, ensuring that pretty much everything on that channel is something they can rerun 100 times a month (changing rooms, ground force, etc). If they could rerun one month of news programming for a full year to keep costs down they'd probably do that too.

    I'm sure there are *many* people outside the UK willing to pay $150/year for downloadable EE.

    (I can't believe Laura just died either!)

    What I don't get is with programs like EE, why *not* sell them online? They're just sitting on a shelf. It's just something which is costing them money to archive, and it's never replayed again (maybe on UK Gold now, but certainly not anywhere outside the UK on a regular basis).
  • On a related point the analogue signal is due to be switch off here in the UK in 2010 (or there abouts). The BBC is heavily involved in a move over to digital transmission with Freeview []. There is no monthly cost (above the license fee) for this system. Recently a company called TopUp TV [] has started to provide paid-for extra channels on freeview which require a decoding card to be perchased. This is something the BBC don't want as it starts to ask the question "do we really need a fixed license fee or cou
  • by lxt ( 724570 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @02:18PM (#9042834) Journal
    I should point out the UK Writers Guild (not the American Writers Guild) is extremely pissed off about this move, because writers won't be getting repeat fees (which can be a large source of income). However, the British Guild has far less power than the American one, meaning not much action can take place over the programmes on demand...

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.