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Freeview Faq (updated July 2010)

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Hi, I have just registered to show my disapointment with the freeview plans. I had been tossing up whether to buy a Beyonwiz DP-P1 or a Panasonic Dvd Recorder. After some months of reading thru the forums I had decided the P1 would suit me and is a bit cheaper though wasnt intending to buy one till christmas.

After reading thru these latest freeview info I thought best to buy now to get one without freeview in it. So I phoned some 'local' (live in the central west NSW so local beyonwiz sellers are 40km away) to get a price and availability on the P1. Well... guess what? Myer dont supply the brand at all out here, HN & Retravision have none in stock and wont be getting anymore in. They only now supply the freeview ones !

Not Happy Jan!

Im yet to phone Good Guys but dont like my chances. So I guess I'll go with the Panasonic Dmr-xw350 or 450 Dvd Recorder. Pretty miffed that these dont have PIP or expandable hard drives though, still sounds like a pretty good machine even so.

Anyway, I'm glad I got all that off my chest.

Good to read all the info on here, thanks for all the hard work you's put in. I now know more than the sales staff I phoned today! Which isnt necessarily saying much.

Cheers...

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I had decided the P1 would suit me and is a bit cheaper though wasnt intending to buy one till christmas.
The P1 is being phased out I suspect. If you're happy enough waiting until Christmas the P2 will likely be at a comparable price point by then. It looks like most manufacturers are currently releasing two models of any PVR so you'll still have plenty of choice in 2010. And you never know, a PVR much better and cheaper than the P1/P2 might arrive in the meantime.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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Thanks Peter for your reply. I have calmed down a little now. :blush:

I will wait and see what comes out over the next 6 months or so. There's not much HD content/channels out this way at the moment anyway so my SD pvr keeps me happy for now. Twin tuners would be nice eventually for sure.

Cheers

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I've updated the FAQ thanks. This development would tip Freeview PVRs into the 'to be avoided' category I believe. Transferring files to a PC is a niche feature. Ad skipping is also not something many require (FF is plenty fine). However potentially disabling recordings altogether (or perhaps placing a watch within a week limit on some) as well as providing a FF capability that has less power than your average VCR would not be well received even by the lay person.

Freeview would need to either be sold at a significant cost drop or its much vaunted EPG would need to be much more than just a horizontal scrolling grid.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

Significant price drop is what seems to be happening. I am searching to buy a PVR at present. Beyongwiz freeview, 500gb for $849 + a $50 store gift voucher included at HN, while non freeview model P2 is $999. Big difference!!! and very tempting. :unsure::unsure:

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Freeview

What is a Freeview ‘box’?

In this post references to a ‘box’ include anything with a digital tuner, eg STB, Plasma, LCD, Digital DVD Recorder, PVR, HTPC, etc. Note that not everything with a digital tuner can be labelled Freeview. Read on…

What is Freeview? FreeTV?

FreeTV is an industry body comprising all commercial free to air (FTA) metropolitan and regional networks in Australia. Seven, Nine, Ten, Win, SC10, etc. Whilst having an interest in Freeview they are not directly related.

Freeview is a brand name. Equipment bearing the Freeview badge will have been certified by to comply with certain requirements (see below) for digital equipment. All commercial and government networks are affiliated with the Freeview product.

What is FreeView trying to achieve with this brand?

The Freeview brand has a number of goals it is trying to achieve. Most broadly they

1) Want to inform Australians about the upcoming analogue shutdown

2) Encourage Australians to buy digital capable equipment for watching FTA.

3) Include future technologies (MPEG4) in current boxes to ease the next digital transition.

4) Limit the introduction/desirability of equipment that can skip ads.

5) Ensure broadcast recordings cannot be transferred to a PC (or duplicated) if networks flag a show as such.

6) Ensure broadcast recordings cannot be made if networks flag a show as such.

7) Limit ad skipping to FF and REW only (x30 speed) and ensure ads cannot be skipped if networks flag an ad as such.

Freeview and the Government’s Digital Ready label campaign?

As part of the analogue shut down awareness campaign the government has released three labels to indicate various levels of digital capability. This (completely separate) campaign is designed to provide a simple way to ensure people are aware of their digital options. Note that the Digital Ready campaign focuses only on equipment’s ability to receive and display current digital broadcasts. It does not concern itself with additional features like the Freeview EPG or MPEG4 capability etc.

FWIW Freeview boxes will have a Digital Ready (High Definition) label.

What benefits/drawbacks does Freeview offer?

Freeview box

• Can display all HD and SD digital channels

• Will be able to handle MPEG4 broadcasts when they eventually appear

• Can provide access to both the FTA EPG and Freeview EPG

• Should provide access to the Freeview EPG (If optional MHEG5 compliant)

• Will not have ad skip capability (REW and FF at x30)

• Must have DRM to potentially stop recordings being offloaded or even being made in the first place.

• Must respect broadcast flags that will prevent ads being FF through.

Standard box

• Can display all HD and/or SD channels depending on tuner type (HD and SD)

• Might be able to handle MPEG4 broadcasts when they eventually appear

• Can provide access to the FTA EPG but not the Freeview EPG

• Can have ad skip capability

• No limitations on being able to download recordings to a PC

What requirements and capabilities must Freeview boxes have?

Freeview have not fully disclosed all of their specifications to the public. However largely Freeview boxes will comprise:

1) High Definition (HD) capability.

2a) Ability to receive MHEG5 signals (See below)

2b) Use MHEG5 to display the standardised Freeview EPG (see below)

2c) The Freeview EPG data can not be extracted (say to a text file on a PC)

3) The box must be capable of receiving MPEG4 transmissions (see below)

4) The box must have no ad skip capability although fast forward is allowed (see below) - FF through ads may be prevented on occassion

5) The box must have the ability to implement Digital Rights Management (DRM) - offloading content will be tightly controlled.

6) The box must be able to disallow recordings if flagged.

Freeview and DRM

It is still unknown just what limitations Freeview are putting on transferring recorded files off a box and onto a PC. The Freeview branded Tivo appears to allow such transfers, while other manufacturers appear to be disabling this capability (file transfers) from their Freeview branded boxes. The best guess so far is that Freeview require all branded boxes to have the capability to ensure that, if the broadcaster wants, they can flag a show as having to remain only on the box. Just what shows a broadcaster might flag in this way is unknown.

Note that just about any digital STB/PVR (including Freeview) can output to an analogue DVD Recorder if desired.

This aspect of Freeview is still subject to change as more information becomes available.

Will a Freeview box cost more than a non-Freeview box?

Unknown. Freeview certification is apparently provided free for complying boxes. However there are additional costs associated with building a Freeview box that a standard box might not incur. These include including an MPEG4 chipset, paying royalties for the EPG format (Confirmed at $6 per box) and providing MHEG5 capabilities. There are also costs associated with developing firmware to handle the new functionality. Manufacturers have agreed to foot the bill for these costs and it is likely that some additional cost will be passed onto the buyer.

To date Freeview and non-Freeview models offered by the same manufacturer are being sold at the same cost.

Freeview “Channels”

There has been a lot of confusion about just what channels a Freeview box will be able to receive. In this regard Freeview boxes are absolutely no different from a non-Freeview High Definition (HD) digital box. Every FTA channel will be available to both types of equipment. Obviously Standard Definition (SD) digital boxes will only be able to receive the SD channels broadcast.

Freeview has been criticised for implying it offers up to 15 new channels. Most of the new channels are already here (if you have a digital box). Until recently most networks had 1 SD channel (a simulcast of the alalogue version) and 1 HD channel (sometimes offering unique content, but usually just a better PQ version of the SD channel). ABC2 was a notable exception. By the end of the year networks will be providing 2 SD channels and 1 HD channel. This probably won't translate to three unique channels as the new SD channel is likely to simulcast the HD channel.

What is the Freeview EPG? What is the Free To Air (FTA) EPG?

Note that some boxes released with the Freeview brand will not be able to view the Freeview EPG (see below about MHEG5)

Currently many boxes provide access to an on screen Electronic Program Guide (EPG). This FTA EPG generally covers 5-7 days of future programming on most channels. Its format is entirely up to individual manufacturers. Digital recording devices (eg PVRs) can usually browse the FTA EPG and use it to set timers with a single press of a button. The FTA EPG is largely the same as what is provided in paper TV guides (in particular, air times are fixed and can often not match actual start and finish times).

The Freeview EPG is possibly the most defined benefit of buying a Freeview branded box. This EPG will have a consistent format across all digital equipment but in many respects be similar to the FTA EPG.

The quality of the Freeview EPG data may continue to improve in years to come.

• Including more detailed or accurate information on repeats, actors, extended information, etc.

• The Freeview EPG may eventually come to include up to the minute accurate information about what’s on.

• Series links might eventually be included to enable a single button to automatically record an entire season.

This extra functionality however is only speculated on. It is also possible (although unlikely) that the FTA EPG will include similar advances.

• FreeTV have indicated the Freeview EPG and FTA EPG will be drawn from the same basic database.

• FreeTV have indicated that the FTA EPG will continue to be broadcast after the Freeview EPG is launched.

• It is likely that Freeview boxes will have access to both the Freeview and FTA EPG.

• It is likely that the Freeview EPG will not be broadcast until much later in the year (if not 2010).

Freeview have now announce that they have secured the rights to broadcast the Freeview EPG format. A one off levy of $6 for each box sold will pay for this.

What about ad skipping?

Central to the Freeview brand is the requirement that all boxes must not have the ability to skip ads. Note that for obvious reasons Freeview (and some sales staff) will obviously not be highlighting this aspect of Freeview branded machines

By skip, Freeview are referring to the ability to jump without hesitation forward or back a defined amount (eg +/-3 minutes or +/- 10 seconds) thus never seeing any in between content (eg ads)

Freeview boxes will however still be able to Fast Forward and Rewind (at up to x30 speed). They will also be able to resume play (continue from where a recording was last stopped) and also likely have some very coarse ability to jump (say at fixed 10% intervals).

In theory a user will be able to FF through a 3 minute block of ads in around 30 seconds on a Freeview branded machine. However Freeview have now stipulated that some ads may be flagged as 'unskippable' so that users will have to watch the ad before FF resumes.

When will Freeview boxes be available?

The Tivo PVR claims to be fully Freeview compliant. A number of big and small manufacturers are looking to bring out Freeview branded boxes this year. Popular brands BeyonWiz and Topfield have both announced Freeview versions of their PVRs.

Note that initially there will be little practical difference between a Freeview box and a standard box (Freeview versions will have some reduced functionality as they will definitely not allow ad skipping and offloading to a PC will be restricted)

What is MHEG5, MPEG2 and MPEG4?

Suffice to say MHEG5 is a protocol/language that used to broadcast interactive text, image and video compositions (i.e. ideal for displaying an EPG). Freeview boxes require MHEG5 capability to display their EPG. Initially not all Freeview boxes will have MHEG5 capability (See below Freeview Phase1 and Freeview Phase2)

MPEG2 is the digital protocol currently being used to broadcast digital TV throughout Australia. All digital boxes (Freeview and non-Freeview) can receive and display MPEG2 broadcasts.

MPEG4 is mooted as the eventual successor to MPEG2. It provides a better image quality while using a significantly smaller amount of bandwidth (allowing more or higher quality channels to be broadcast). It is up to the Australian government to determine when MPEG4 broadcasts can begin. It is unlikely that anything will be broadcast in MPEG4 for at least 5-10 years. However Freeview hope to have this technology already embedded in many boxes to make this transition much easier than the current analogue to MPEG2 change over.

Note that many non-Freeview boxes currently have or will have MPEG4 capability already.

Freeview Phase1 and Freeview Phase2 - Beware

To enable manufacturers to get products on to the market as quickly as possible, Freeview is not making MHEG5 capability mandatory until the end of 2009. There is also no requirement to indicate a Freeview box is Phase1 or Phase2 compliant. It is possible some boxes will be able to be upgraded (via firmware update) to MHEG5 capability later on however this is not definite. Without MHEG5 boxes will have no access to the Freeview EPG (however its likely they will still have access to the FTA EPG).

So What to Buy?

Freeview have officially launched some products. Manufacturers include Beyonwiz, Topfield, TiVo, DGTEC, Kogan, LG and Sony. More models should be appearing on shelves shortly. However some initial offerings are likely to not have MHEG5 capability so be sure to ensure your box does have this before buying.

As mentioned, currently only Tivo offer a Freeview EPG like experience. Note that Tivo uses its own version of the Freeview EPG that is provided via a broadband connection. It is probably IMO that Tivo will not provide the official Freeview interface as this would interfere with its own operations too much.

MPEG4 capability while future proofing to some extent is probably not a big deal for most current purchases. By time MPEG4 is ever broadcast in this country (5-10+ years) most boxes bought today will likely have been replaced. Its inclusion at this time is just to try maximise MPEG4’s eventual ubiquity – not a bad thing.

In practice it will make sense that many STBs and TVs will be Freeview compatible. On such devices an EPG is of less importance and the FTA EPG is likely to be quite up to the task of browsing for what’s on tonight. For a STB costing $100 or so its probably a simple choice of whether to wait and see what is offered or buy now if impatient and look to upgrade in a while.

For an expensive ($1000+) TV the choice is probably a little harder. IMO purchacing a TV should come down to its price, picture and audio quality (even its aesthetics) before Freeview comes into the equation. After all you’ll be looking at broadcast shows a lot more than the Freeview EPG hopefully. So I’d suggest viewing Freeview branding in this area as a bonus but nothing more.

Where the choice becomes significant is in the digital recording arena. In large part it’s the emergence of this technology that has forced FreeTV to try and provide a desirable counter to boxes that enable ad skipping. In many instances manufacturers will be offering identical models with Freeview and non-Freeview (ad skipping) capabilities. It will be up to the customer which functionality is more advantageous however the decision to potentially further reduce Freeview boxes ability to FF through some ads does give pause.

Will Freeview end up being a household term? Stay tuned…

Regards

Peter Gillespie

Dear Peter,

I would like to say a very big T H A N K Y O U!

for all your hard work on this article. And for sharing it with us. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

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I hope freeview fails. And the ABC should be ashamed of itself for being apart of Freeview which clearly benefits the commercial stations.

I would also like to see some organization mount a campaign against Freeview so consumers know what the disadvantages are of having Freeview against the non Freeview PVR.

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Dear Peter,

I would like to say a very big T H A N K Y O U!

for all your hard work on this article. And for sharing it with us. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Hi Kaz. Can you please dit your post, as you don't need to requote everything Peter wrote. just keep the bit that matters

I hope freeview fails. And the ABC should be ashamed of itself for being apart of Freeview which clearly benefits the commercial stations.

I would also like to see some organization mount a campaign against Freeview so consumers know what the disadvantages are of having Freeview against the non Freeview PVR.

Wozz, ATM there is choice in the market place for Freeview and non-Freeview PVRs. The whole Freeview thing is because the FTA broadcasters are trying to protect their revenue streams whilst providing FREE television broadcasts. As long as they continue to do this, we can continue to record and watch TV shows without having to pay for the privilige. As long as those not concerned with the Freeview drawbacks continue to buy Freeview PVRs, it means the rest of us that what less strings attached can enjoy the service too.

Without FTA TV, we'd all be resigned to subscription TV (Foxtel), illegal downloads, etc.

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Hi Kaz. Can you please edit your post, as you don't need to requote everything Peter wrote. just keep the bit that matters
What bit doesn't matter? :)

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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Thanks Peter and Diesel!

I am still learning how to navigate and interact with the forum software. I hadn't expected it all to show as a large insert - thought it would be hidden and have the option to scroll through.

Kaz. :oB)

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Is there any clue or number how many freeview pvr have sold until now?

what in the world is the benefit to end users?

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Is there any clue or number how many freeview pvr have sold until now?

what in the world is the benefit to end users?

I would say this is a very well guarded secret because if they are not selling to well Freeview would be seen as a failure.

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I would say this is a very well guarded secret because if they are not selling to well Freeview would be seen as a failure.

There's also STBs and TVs (if any are Freeview approved).

But the biggest sales so far would have to be the TiVo, whom I guess would have the majority share of the PVR market since arriving on the scene.

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Is there any clue or number how many freeview pvr have sold until now? what in the world is the benefit to end users?
Well the main benefit for viewers is that FTA TV has some chance of surviving another decade. In a nut shell Freeview is basically like any other HD box on the market, it just limits ad skipping capabilities. If non Freeview products become the norm then either FTA TV will become

1) Non existant and we can all start paying for cable TV

2) Mostly sport and other live events which don't time shift well

3) Pretty crappy second class foreign reruns as the networks run out of money to buy anything decent to watch

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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4) The Networks run overseas shows within a week or so after they are aired overseas - combating channel BT

Remember CH7's "Fast Tracked" shows within a week or two of being shown in the US.

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I still don't get it - Freeview is basically just a way to restrict the viewer's ability to skip adds, and give you a better EPG (which I haven't heard much about the added functionality of). It is such a rort and I've had people say to me recently that if you buy a new TV it has to be Freeview compliant and if it's not you won't receive all this bonus FTA content. I can't believe that Freeview have been allowed to advertise in this way - it is very misleading.

One thing I did read quite a while ago was that Freeview has put Tivo out of the market in some countries due to the added functionality of the EPG. I would be interested to know if this is correct, however I haven't seen any advertising from them which would suggest that the Freeview EPG has the Tivo functionality. Maybe the fact that they're in bed together now they're both protecting each other's interests <_< I must admit that I found Tivo to be a rather extravegant item to purchase (as I saw it it is just a PVR with the ability to say that any program that has Angelina Jolie in it needs to be recorded :P ) Even now you see very little hardware in the retailers that carries a Freeview sticker.

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I still don't get it - Freeview is basically just a way to restrict the viewer's ability to skip adds, and give you a better EPG (which I haven't heard much about the added functionality of). It is such a rort and I've had people say to me recently that if you buy a new TV it has to be Freeview compliant and if it's not you won't receive all this bonus FTA content. I can't believe that Freeview have been allowed to advertise in this way - it is very misleading.

One thing I did read quite a while ago was that Freeview has put Tivo out of the market in some countries due to the added functionality of the EPG. I would be interested to know if this is correct, however I haven't seen any advertising from them which would suggest that the Freeview EPG has the Tivo functionality. Maybe the fact that they're in bed together now they're both protecting each other's interests <_< I must admit that I found Tivo to be a rather extravegant item to purchase (as I saw it it is just a PVR with the ability to say that any program that has Angelina Jolie in it needs to be recorded :P ) Even now you see very little hardware in the retailers that carries a Freeview sticker.

Like it or not the Freeview approach is a necessary evil. Unless most people watch ads then advertisers don't pay th networks then they can't afford to make or buy decent content. Freeview haven't advertised misleadingly, its just the online media hysteria that's caused much of the confusion. Freeview (oz) is a unique oz invention it hasn't been any where else. Tivo exists in the US and now oz, it used to be in the uk however FTA and paytv over there basically offered a similar better option and tivo never eally took off. FTA in the UK is something of a misnomer as veryone pays a TV tax each year.

Tivo offers a one touch season pass ability. If you don'twant that other options are available.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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Thanks for the great info, but alas with more knowledge comes more questions!

You mentioned that many of the Freeview STB come with MPEG 4 Part 10 (H.264 / AVC ) in preparation for the next generation of DTV. Is there any risk of the next standard being DVB-T2 in which case are we going to have to upgrade our tuners (be it STB or TVs) or are they likely to just have MPEG-4 running over DVB-T like they have in many other countries now?

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Definitely a risk, and completely unknowable by anyone. Only governments in time future will be able to tell us.

That said, the MPEG4 broadcast standard is apparently being finalised at the moment.

Also, as I mentioned on another thread, if all goes to plan then in 10 years time a large % of the population will have Freeview boxes (or other boxes with MPEG4 built in). Do you think any government is going to say, well if we go with Freeview MPEG4 85% of the population is already sorted, however I think we prefer T2 which means everyone needs to by new equipment again?

I also assume there's a law of diminishing returns here -

analogue => MPEG2 (big)

MPEG2 => MPEG4 (decent) =>T2 (small?)

Regards

Peter Gillespie

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Well the main benefit for viewers is that FTA TV has some chance of surviving another decade. In a nut shell Freeview is basically like any other HD box on the market, it just limits ad skipping capabilities. If non Freeview products become the norm then either FTA TV will become

1) Non existant and we can all start paying for cable TV

2) Mostly sport and other live events which don't time shift well

3) Pretty crappy second class foreign reruns as the networks run out of money to buy anything decent to watch

The Freeview specification is under strict NDA that expressly forbids Freeview specification discussions even between receiver manufacturers who have signed the NDA! This in itself is a major concern; what are broadcasters trying to hide from manufacturers and the viewing public?

It also begs the question as to why Australian broadcasters are not up-front about Freeview. Why the secrecy? What do we actually know about Freeview? Not much except for lots of speculation, hearsay and whispers… I thought this was Australia, not the iron curtain!

I have read & studied the Freeview Phase II spec but I can’t discuss it for obvious reasons. Forum members should be directing their Freeview question in writing to Freeview direct. Ask then to detail & release the spec for all to see & scrutinize… it’s in your interest to do so!

As to ‘pgdownload’ predictions about non-Freeview products becoming the norm I make the following observations:

1) ‘Non existent and we can all start paying for cable TV’

Freeview is a surefire backdoor path to PayTV via the antenna

2) ‘Mostly sport and other live events which don't time shift well’

OneHD is already that! Plenty of sport in mostly crappy SD. The only part that’s HD is the LCN service name. Whatever happed to the HD promise? Oversold & under delivered.

3) ‘Pretty crappy second class foreign reruns as the networks run out of money to buy anything decent to watch’

That’s a pretty good description of the new GO! service; re-runs at a low bit rate. I wonder if the Ch 7 offering will perhaps be more of the same.

It's also becoming very evident that broadcasters are more interested in SD multi-channelling than HD. If you want to watch HD on your 50" TV then invest in a BluRay player because the FTA HD offering is spasmodic and in low quality.

So I'm afraid that which ever way you slice it it's more of the same for FTA TV; programs that don't start on time, poor quality video, very little 5.1 sound, in-accurate EPG's etc. And don't even think for a minute that MPEG4 will be the savior. MPEG4 will continue to deliver more of the same on more channels!

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I have read & studied the Freeview Phase II spec but I can’t discuss it for obvious reasons. Forum members should be directing their Freeview question in writing to Freeview direct. Ask then to detail & release the spec for all to see & scrutinize… it’s in your interest to do so!

But this is only the spec for being freeview compliant.

This is not like the spec for digital transmissions is going secret. That is still a public document and not under freeviews control.

Sure there might be some private data (the enhanced epg) but if people still have the option to buy non-freeview equipment then I dont see a big problem.

I think the reverse is true - freeview might struggle for features to give their branded devices an edge over other models that have the feature of not being artifically crippled!

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The Freeview specification is under strict NDA that expressly forbids Freeview specification discussions even between receiver manufacturers who have signed the NDA! This in itself is a major concern; what are broadcasters trying to hide from manufacturers and the viewing public?
Freeview has been developed under NDAs although this isn't all that strange these days. Very few companies try to develop a new product openly. The Freeview spec is largely known (Its not like you'll buy a Tivo and find out they've banned transmission of the colour red).
I thought this was Australia, not the iron curtain! I have read & studied the Freeview Phase II spec but I can’t discuss it for obvious reasons.
If there's some horrible aspect to Freeview Phase II then its quite easy to post a heads up anonymously.
Freeview is a surefire backdoor path to PayTV via the antenna
Then it should be very easy to provide an explanation of this raionale?
OneHD is already that! That’s a pretty good description of the new GO! service;
Exactly. FTA TV is already reeling against loss of viewers (ad revenue) both actual (fewer people watching less TV) and technical (people that do watch TV aren't watching the ads). If this continues then OneHD and Go will become the norm, not the exception. There's still a lot of quality TV being aired free but financially the networks are beginning to suffer.
It's also becoming very evident that broadcasters are more interested in SD multi-channelling than HD.
Yep. Ironically its the last thing they wanted to do, but for some reason they all feel compelled to. However that's a different topic IMO.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

Edited by pgdownload

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Yep. Ironically its the last thing they wanted to do, but for some reason they all feel compelled to. However that's a different topic IMO.

The joke is that the network that pushed for multi-channel is the last to do it!

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Yep. Ironically its the last thing they wanted to do, but for some reason they all feel compelled to. However that's a different topic IMO.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

IIUC, the issue is the way eyeball share translates to price of ad-time. Because its a closed shop, (you have to give $millions to get to own a frequency) to avoid regulation in ad-pricing, they agreed to a semi-independent method of calculating eyeballs, so that the industry as a whole could set prices in a transparent manner (I may have this arse-up. but thats what I believe)

The formula worked because we had stuff-all channels. If you add channels, the formula has to recognize that a) you don't simultaneously add an extra 20 million eyeballs B) that the total eyeballs now spreads thinner over more channels therefore c) the revenue per ad-slot has to fall.

So, their motivation to multi-channel was zero.

Now, defensively, they realize that the dam has broken: by not 'competing' with ABC2, SBS2, the FTA's were loosing market share anyway. By not competing with pay, unless you were lucky enough to be in Pay anyway, you were also bleeding revenue.

So the only winning game is to race to the bottom, and capture *aggregate* eyeball count by having multi-channels: it might be less $ per timeslot, but more timeslots gets you back up again. A bit at least.

Frankly, with timeshifting, (which I use like everyone else) I am half-minded to admit the public side of the deal has been broken anyway: we took our eyeballs off ads, with skipping. Therefore, they feel no compunction screening crap, because we broke the deal first. If we want to get good TV, we have to pay for it, unless we re-define what "good" and "pay" is..

-G

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