ITV Turn Their Back On Freesat?

With the announcement made today that ITV intend on launching their ITV2, 3 and 4 high-definition service on Sky only, you’ve got to question how much involvement ITV really have, or want, in this Freesat joint venture agreement with BBC.

Many of you will be aware that ITV have been close to financial ruin in recent years, with a £105mil loss last year alone, so you can excuse them a little for wanting to take the option which will see the biggest return, but judging by the number of emails we’ve received today, this is seen as a clear sign that ITV are turning their back on free-to-air (FTA) satellite television and as such, their own joint venture platform.

ITV have said that whilst they plan to offer ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD as part of Sky’s HD pack (£10 per month on top of £18-£48 per month), their standard-definition versions will continue to be available FTA, along with ITV1 (SD) and ITV1 HD.

If you’ve not read the full story, it is availale on the BBC News website here.

What are your thoughts on the news, do you see this as a kick in the teeth for Freesat, or that ITV’s programming is so poor in terms of content and quality that this makes no difference to you other than the obvious additional exposure for Freesat. One things for sure, the team at Freesat are no doubt unhappy with this announcement!

On better news (depending how you look at it), ITV do intend on launching ITV1+1 at the beginning of 2011, and this should be FTA.

Freesat Honours Best In Broadcast With Freesat Awards 2010

(Freesat press release)

Freesat Awards 2010

Freesat has announced the winners of its annual Awards for 2010, with ITV1 HD, E4, Al Jazeera English and CBeebies among those receiving honours.

The very best in channels and services available on the subscription-free satellite TV service were recognised at the ceremony, showcasing the breadth and depth of choice and quality in programming on offer.

Compere comedian Ed Byrne announced winners at last night’s Awards event:

• Best Entertainment Channel: E4
• Best Children’s Channel: CBeebies
• Best News Channel: Al Jazeera English
• Lifestyle Channel: Food Network UK
• Best Music Channel: Flava
• Best Themed Channel: Horror Channel
• Best Shopping Channel: QVC
• Best Specialist Radio Station: Absolute 80s
• Judges’ Special Award: ITV1 HD
• Viewers’ Choice for Channel of the Year (joint winners): Ideal World (TV); Planet Rock (radio)

A panel of senior representatives from the broadcast industry formed the expert judging panel. They included: Radio Times Editor Ben Preston; Clive Jones, Chairman of Netplay and Sticky Moon; Fru Hazlitt, Managing Director of Commercial & Online, ITV; digital media journalist Jemima Kiss; MD of The Third Way, Nick Brampton; Patrick Younge, Chief Creative Officer of BBC Vision Productions; Arqiva Satellite and Media MD Nick Thompson and Emma Scott, Freesat Managing Director.

Commenting at the awards, now in their second year, Freesat Managing Director, Emma Scott said;

I’d like to congratulate all the winners honoured here tonight for their massive contribution to Freesat’s continued success. We’re proud to celebrate the original, high quality programming that keeps our audience entertained and informed and we look forward to bringing viewers even more exciting channels and services in the future.

Mark Briggs, Head of Channels at Freesat added;

We work very closely with our channel partners and it’s fantastic to get everyone together and celebrate our shared success. We’re regularly adding new channels to the Freesat service and hope to see some of them feature at future Freesat Awards, as we continue recognising the outstanding entertainment available on the UK’s fastest-growing TV service.

Freesat Awards 2010 winners

Best Entertainment Channel – E4
E4 was chosen by the panel for having an original voice that appeals directly to its target audience. The channel particularly impressed for taking risks that have paid off, with programmes such as Misfits being seen as very current, very exciting and perfect for the viewers it’s aimed at.

Best News Channel – Al Jazeera English
The judges commended Al Jazeera’s journalism and impartiality and recognised its coverage of stories that go unreported elsewhere, helping viewers discover a completely different window on the world.

Best Children’s Channel – CBeebies
CBeebies got the panel’s vote for being in a class of its own in the way it communicates with children. Its significant contribution to the broadcast environment and consistent placing in the top ten digital channels was also recognised by the judges, who highlighted CBeebies to be a jewel in the BBC crown.

Best Lifestyle Channel – Food Network UK
The panel thought Food Network UK was a real trailblazer for themed programming in the UK. It particularly loved the combination of programming in some really interesting formats, such as exciting new developments like Iron Chef America, combined with old favourites and familiar faces such as Nigella Lawson.

Best Music Channel – Flava
In a market where channels are very heavily influenced by the US music scene, the judges selected Flava for its representation of UK music, and Grime specifically, which is really important to younger British audiences.

Best Themed Channel – The Horror Channel
The Horror Channel won for its great on-air look and feel, its range of British hosts, audience outreach with ‘horror fests’, and other activities allowing its viewers to really enjoy their passion, such as making content for mobile and holding short film competitions.

Best Shopping Channel – QVC
Described as being really positive and very professionally produced, QVC was chosen by the judges for its UK-centric focus and successfully creating a whole brand lifestyle around its shopping programming.

Best Specialist Radio Station – Absolute 80s
Absolute 80s won for doing something new with a very en vogue genre, achieving an “astonishing” reach in a very short period of time. The judges were impressed by its ability to attract a huge amount of interest both from presenters and people that want to be involved in the station – but even more importantly, from listeners.

Judges’ Special Award – ITV1 HD
ITV1 HD was honoured because of the impact it has had across all Freesat homes in the past year. Moving from an initial red button service to a full channel, the judges awarded ITV1 HD for its huge commitment to developing the service into something Freesat viewers really love.

Viewers’ Choice: Freesat Channel of the Year (public vote) – Joint winners:
(TV Channel of the Year) – Ideal World
(Radio Station of the Year) – Planet Rock

STV Launches HD Service

STV Launches HD Service

News taken from STV website

STV is to launch its first High Definition service, STVHD, bringing viewers Scotland’s most popular peak time TV schedule in crystal clear clarity, making programmes brighter and sharper than ever before.

STVHD will be a completely separate channel on Digital Terrestrial Television/Freeview on channel 51 and on Virgin Media on channel 113. It will be available in time for the World Cup launching on 11 June.

STV HD brings football games to life, adds more energy to entertainment and offers drama in all its gritty glory. The channel will feature all of the 2010 FIFA World Cup games exclusive to STV throughout the tournament in High Definition, bringing viewers closer to the most exciting sports event of the year like never before.

Viewers can get closer to the action of all their favourite shows, such as X-Factor, Coronation Street and the new series of Taggart, as this cutting edge technology presents STV in amazing detail.

Bobby Hain, managing director of Broadcasting at STV, said;

We’re thrilled to be bringing viewers a brand new STV HD service, offering our programmes in crystal clear vision and incredible clarity. We’re particularly pleased that we’ll be offering all of the STV World Cup games in HD for our nation of football fans on both DTT and Virgin Media.

STV is currently working with Sky, Freesat and ITV Network with a view to making STVHD available via satellite as soon as possible and will provide an update on this in due course.

STV Plan High-Definition For World Cup

In an announcement made today that STV are to sell their cinema advertising business Pearl & Dean; STV have stated the reason behind this is to refocus on its core television business.

STV have confirmed this sale will allow them to increase their investment in high definition TV services which it hopes to have in place for the 2010 World Cup.

Whilst we’ve had no official announcement (pending the sale of Pearl & Dean), we would assume this means STV intend on buying into the existing ITV1 HD service, or as rumoured over the past few months, they will broadcast STV HD. Unfortunately though the initial HD service will be limited to terrestrial (Freeview) and cable (Virgin Media) but we hope satellite (Freesat) will follow shortly after; we’ll see whether they have any firm plans in place yet.

ITV1 HD To Launch In April

It has been confirmed today that ITV1 HD will be available as a standalone channel (channel 119 – no red button) from 2nd April 2010. The channel which will be a simulcast of ITV1 will also be available on Sky and Virgin Media.

The ITV1 schedule will be simulcast on the new channel, with the majority of peak time content available in ‘native’ HD, including all live football, and an increasing range of drama, factual and entertainment programming. Other ITV1 content including GMTV and the daytime schedule, will be ‘upscaled’ – giving viewers a better than ever experience of the nation’s most popular commercial channel.

Peter Fincham, ITV Director of Television, Channels and Online, said:

The availability of high definition content is something viewers have come to expect as standard and, as we approach the 2010 World Cup, I’m delighted that we are able to launch our new channel, ITV1 HD, on all major platforms.

All of our output will benefit from the stunning picture quality that high definition offers, whether it’s ITV’s original drama, landmark factual shows, entertainment events or our live football.

This is great news and should now put an end to all the problems ITV have had with certain manufacturers and the red button service; it should also put ITV more in the spot light to take the service more seriously and offer more high-definition content over the coming years.