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** BSkyB Announces High Definition Channels and Free-To-Air Offering **

Discussion in 'Sky Digital TV Forum' started by RAMiAM, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. RAMiAM

    RAMiAM
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    British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC : New initiatives

    RNS Number:5601Z
    British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC
    09 June 2004

    BSkyB announces Free-To-Air and High Definition Television initiatives

    British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) today announced plans to drive sustained demand
    for digital satellite television through separate initiatives that will address
    the premium pay-TV and free-to-air (FTA) audiences. Speaking at an investor
    conference in London, James Murdoch, Chief Executive of BSkyB, said that the
    Company would introduce a new FTA satellite proposition later this year and had
    begun developing a premium package of services in the High Definition Television
    (HDTV) format for launch in 2006.

    Free-To-Air Satellite

    Later this year, BSkyB will introduce a FTA satellite proposition offering
    access to almost 200 television and radio channels and interactive services
    which are available without a monthly subscription fee. Consumers will be able
    to purchase a package of reception equipment (including a Sky digibox, minidish
    and initial viewing card) direct from BSkyB for a one-off cost of £150.00
    including standard professional installation.

    There is no obligation to subscribe to a pay-TV service and FTA satellite
    viewers pay no monthly fee. However, the FTA satellite proposition offers an
    easy upgrade path for viewers who choose subsequently to add a pay-TV service to
    their viewing options. There is no requirement for additional equipment and
    viewing cards can be enabled remotely for the reception of pay-TV services.

    It is anticipated that the new FTA satellite proposition will support the
    Governments proposed switchover to digital-only broadcasting by providing an
    additional subscription-free option for viewers not currently attracted to
    pay-TV. In particular, FTA satellite will provide an accessible and attractive
    means of going digital for the 27 per cent(1) of UK households which are
    currently unable to receive the full range of digital terrestrial television
    services and for the additional number of households which require an aerial
    upgrade in order to receive digital terrestrial services.

    The extensive line-up of channels available to FTA digital satellite viewers
    includes the BBCs portfolio of digital television and radio services and
    digital versions of the five analogue terrestrial television channels, including
    all national and regional variants of BBC One and BBC Two. Access to the
    encrypted signals of ITV1, Channel 4 and five will be available as a result of
    the provision of a digital satellite viewing card, which will also enable
    automatic reception of the relevant variant of regionalised FTA channels.

    All FTA satellite viewers enjoy access to Skys comprehensive electronic
    programme guide (EPG) featuring seven-day listings of forthcoming programmes on
    all channels. In addition to a wide choice of FTA television and radio channels,
    interactive services such as Sky Active, BBCi, ITVi and Channel 4s Big Brother
    Interactive are available to digital satellite viewers without any monthly
    subscription fee. All Sky digiboxes contain an integrated modem and therefore
    are capable of accessing online services including e-mail, SMS text messaging
    and public service information from Directgov.

    High Definition Television

    In a separate initiative, BSkyB will again demonstrate its commitment to lead
    innovation in digital television with the development of a premium package of
    channels in the High Definition Television (HDTV) format. Following the
    successful launch by BSkyB of the UKs first digital television service, first
    interactive television service and first integrated Digital Video Recorder Sky+,
    the proposed introduction of HDTV to the digital satellite platform in 2006 will
    ensure that Sky customers continue to benefit from the most advanced television
    services available.

    HDTV, delivering substantially superior picture quality than standard-definition
    television, is the preferred format for a growing number of US television
    productions in genres including sport, drama, entertainment and news. Its
    introduction to the UK is expected to strengthen further the differentiation
    between digital satellite and other television platforms and to appeal to the
    increasing number of consumers who seek to enhance their in-home audiovisual
    experience with equipment such as wide-screen televisions, plasma screens and
    home cinema systems.

    The premium service will launch in 2006 with both a set of dedicated HD channels
    and access to selected events produced in HD format. Further details of BSkyBs
    proposed technology and programming offering in HDTV will be announced in due
    course. In addition to the package of channels to be offered by Sky, other
    broadcasters on the digital satellite platform will also be able to take
    advantage of its HDTV capabilities to provide an enhanced experience to their
    viewers.

    James Murdoch, Chief Executive of BSkyB, commented:

    "These initiatives are another step in giving consumers a choice from Sky that
    suits their needs at the top and lower ends of the scale. They will help drive
    even greater take-up of digital TV services and enable Sky to enjoy a close
    relationship with even more customers."
     
  2. buns

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    HD sounds good to me, 2006 being absolutely ideal in terms of the technology required

    ad
     
  3. DaveP

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    I wonder if this means you'll be able to just buy the FTA viewing card?

    Knowing Sky they will sell you one for £150.

    Dave
     
  4. Brogan

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    Looks like subscription charges will be rising again soon to pay for these new services...sigh....
     
  5. tutu

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    Some good news for a change :)
     
  6. gtfc

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    Looks like the prices of freeview boxes will come down then, I know SKY are part of the Freeview consortium but this move must have sent shockwaves round the freeview bods and the manufacturers who have geared up with suitable products.

    Is SKY reception better than the best freeview in terms of this bitrate thing I keep hearing about.
     
  7. Starburst

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    This is a lot of fuss over nothing.
    There has been a non-subscription offer for a long time and you could get the FTV card from the BBC and then by paying a £23.50 fee.
    The problem was whent hat offer was removed and the only official way to watch ITV1, Ch4 and Five via Dsat was with a SKY subscription.

    This "new" offer means that you can get an official FTV system for £150 including all hardware and installation which is fantastic for the millions(?) of households still not covered by the DTT service.

    Long term that means as the digital penetration increases the analogue shutdown comes closer the DTT expansion draws closer which is good for everyone.
    It's an offer that should have been on the table as soon as the BBC stopped funding the FTV scheme and I am sure there are many who welcome a chance to watch digital telly with no subscription via the only means that they can at this time, Dsat.
     
  8. Starburst

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    It won't affect the sale of Freeview hardware nor it's development, while ITV1, CH4 and Five are FTV you have to have SKY badged hardware and SKY will never let market forces dictate those prices.

    On the whole I would say that DTT can be better than the same channels on Dsat, however Five is fantastic on Dsat but they only have a single channel so don't try to save money by squeezing X amount of channels into a finite transponder capacity.
    Bottom line is that all digital channels could do with a higher bitrate/lower compression:)
     
  9. 2 Point

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    Well done for being the first to knock Sky for introducing what most of us want and are willing to pay for. :rolleyes:

    My petrol/community charge/every-other-tax-you-can-think-of will be more expensive over the next two years with no added benefit yet do you hear me moaning? :nono:
     
  10. Brogan

    Brogan
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    I didn't realise I had to ask your permission to post my opinions... :rolleyes:
     
  11. Starburst

    Starburst
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    The introduction of SKY+ didn't cause any increase in the basic channel subscriptions nor the premium F1+ service.
    The subscription increases would have happended regardless:(

    I suspect that the HD hardware will be sold at a profit by SKY and the actual programming available as a premium channel ontop of any normal subscription.
    HD will always be a premium/niche product designed for those that want a higher level of service and are prepared to pay for it.
    Subsidising HD with normal subscription revenues would be pointless since it will never be the default level of service.

    On the other hand the BBC would certainly use license fee money to subsidise a HD service after all they already do for standard digital tv and internet services both of which millions of households do not have access to.
     
  12. Faust

    Faust
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    What I am wondering is this. For those of us who already have Sky, in particular Sky+ will we be allowed to put our existing digi box into another room without the need to have a mirror subscription under this new plan? Or failing that will we be allowed to participate in the offer at all? After all if you already have the quad LNB it's a pretty straightforward install. I'm thinking that if Sky run true to form, existing subscribers will be excluded from participating in the new venture.
     
  13. Starburst

    Starburst
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    Do you mean having access to a FTV card instead of being forced to take out a mirror sub to watch the FTV channels on a second digibox?

    If so then I doubt the FTV card will be for sale on it's own only in the bundle.
    SKY were totally unwilling to supply/promote a FTV card without the full co-operation including money from ITV, CH4 and Five after the BBC withdrew so I doubt they would go it alone now.
    The basic idea is to get SKY into as many non-digital homes as possible not to help out existing subscribers or the terrestrial broadcasters.
     
  14. BrianC

    BrianC
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    But what about using the offer to get a second digibox installed, for access to the FTV channels? Or are they going to ban existing subscribers completely?
     
  15. Brogan

    Brogan
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  16. Starburst

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    When the £23.50 FTV cards were offered they to were guaranteed for 2 years, SKY has to make allowances for the chance that the Videoguard encryption is hacked and a card reissue is required.
    Since that procedure costs SKY upwards of £100million (or so I read) they are obviously keen not to be responsible for replacing non-subscription cards if they can avoid doing so.

    If we are being open and above board then Freeview has a license period (10 years I believe), it is quite possible that the service could end at that time and all the channels become encrypted with either an existing system or something brand new.
    There could be millions of people with FTA DTT boxes and no service:)
    Ok, far fetched I know but at this time the steps taken by SKY are a precaution and for those people with NO dtt or digital cable reception then this "new" offer is still the best option they have.

    It's just as likely that in two years or so there may be more FTA Dsat channels aimed at the UK and the need for a card is less important and of course a good take up of this offer may bring bring analogue shutdown closer.
    The result would then by an increase in DTT coverage and that will mean that these people currently denied Freeview/DTT will have a second option.
     
  17. Brogan

    Brogan
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    Just out of interest, do you work for Sky's marketing department?
    You seem very fond of 'bigging them up'.
     
  18. Garrett

    Garrett
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    Was just about to mention the (after 24 months they may cancel the service).

    It just looks like a spoiler for freeview because it is so popular, also an incentive to get people to take up other SKY subscriptions. I can just imagine this phone call “I believe you have a SKY digibox, would you like t have some extra channels at half price for 3 months”.
     
  19. Starburst

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    If I worked for SKY or any business related to broadcasting I would say so.
    I gave you the facts (as I know them, which makes some room for me being wrong) but I have also spoken well of Freeview and TIVO and I think NTL do a bang up ob of their CM service.
    There is no point posting biased/slanted information to this forum as many readers do take notice of what is writtern, I certainly wouldn't want people spending money on a product/service that isn't right for them after reading something I posted.

    So, take my word for it that I am nothing more than a SKY subscriber who has a Freeview box, who intends to buy a HD based Freeview box and has also subscribed to NTL digital in my time.

    Just out of interest:)
    Was anything I posted in the reply to your post (re. BBC report) that was wrong/inaccurate or an out and out lie?
     
  20. bob1

    bob1
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    We were talking about this at work and i said you could get some free channels on sky anyway by getting a freeveiw card off the bbc,not anymore by the looks of things.When will people learn anyway, there's no such thing as free.
     
  21. Brogan

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    Not at all and apologies if it came across badly as nothing was inferred.

    I guess I'm just not used to hearing people speak well of Sky - too much time on the DS forums probably... :)
     
  22. Starburst

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    From SKYs point of view it makes perfect business sense.
    The FTA/FTV offering is dead in the water in areas already served by good Freeview/DTT coverage. However 25% of the population can not get DTT or are marginal at best and that is a huge untapped market for SKY, they may not make any big money via this £150 offer but as you say they will get a significant number of people who upgrade to a sub package at some point.
    After all that is the business model of TUTV and seems to be ticking along nicely:)

    Bottom line is regardless of what you think of subcription TV or SKY in particular in the long term this can only be good for DTT as the quicker analogue is turned off the sooner DTT can be increased in power and the channel lineup expanded.
     
  23. Starburst

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    No worries.
    I post on DS regularly and have been accused of being a SKY lacky as well:)
     
  24. PhilipVass

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    So is it worth getting a Sky box and dish as i already have Freeview i could link it on the AV2 channel...i have ITV, Ch4, five and BBC channels already so i would not need this card right?
     
  25. Starburst

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    You only need the card for the FTV channels (ITV1, CH4 and Five) so if you don't need them you don't need a smartcard.
    If you are only therefore interested in the FTA channels on Dsat then why not consider a proper FTA reciever with a dish, you could get one installed at a similar price point if not cheaper than this offer.
     
  26. PhilipVass

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    How much would it cost for an instillation from some local cowboy outfit? I realise i can pick up a dish and digi box for around £30 on ebay so it might be worth having both Freeview and Free-to-view Dsat as i am interested in music and a few of the sports channels.
     
  27. Starburst

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    I couldn't say with any accuracy, prices vary wildly from company to company in the same town let alone between the midlands and Scotland:)
    Not to mention a small job might be done by a fitter "off the books" so to speak.
    Never tried it myself but many people have installed their own dishes with no serious problems.

    For the hardware price you mention it might be worth putting up with a digibox and not buying a proper FTA receiver but be aware the older digiboxes are very slow (menus, epg etc) compared to the latest models.
     
  28. lynx

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  29. canlabmaster

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    DaveP asked very early in this thread about the possibility of Sky supplying JUST the FTA viewing card. I think this should be given serious consideration by Sky. A couple of years ago I invested in a Dsat system just so I could get good digital widescreen (ie 16:9 NOT 14:9) reception of the BBC channels, ITV, Ch 4 and 5 - only to be disenfranchised a year later from the last three on this list. So, I have the kit (still functioning OK with FTA channels), why on earth would I feel tempted to have it removed and replaced with the same at £150 when all I need is a card? I'm happy to pay for this although I do believe I pay enough for my viewing pleasure by paying a licence fee and enduring advertising on commercial channels.
     

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