Ofcom step in to enforce subtitles on Sky channels

Ofcom step in to enforce subtitles on Sky channelsOfcom have stepped in to enforce a requirement on BSkyB to provide subtitles on their own channels available on Freesat.

Mark Beer, a joinfreesat reader, who suffers from a hearing impairment, lodged a complaint with Ofcom follow failed attempts to Continue reading Ofcom step in to enforce subtitles on Sky channels

Freesat Considering Pay-TV Option

It looks like Freesat have re-opened the debate on offering a Pay-TV option on the ‘free’ satellite platform, following high level discussions to consider allowing access to premium channels such as Sky Sports 1 and 2.

Though no decision has yet been made, Freesat are very keen to offer as many channels as possible on the platform, and with so many high profile channels deciding to remain ‘subscription only’ or free-encrypted (FTV), this might be a bold step forward, even if it goes against the initial reasons Freesat was launched.

Premium channels were made available wholesale to other platforms back in April when Ofcom forced BSkyB to allow access; this has led to BT Vision launching the sports channels (albeit SD only) in time for the new football season, and many see this as a chance finally to watch specific programmes/channels without having to sign up for others you don’t want.

It is expected that a third party will handle the sales (like Top-up TV on Freeview), with Freesat themselves taking care of the conditional access system thanks to the electronic programme guide (EPG) already in place.

Emma Scott, Managing Director of Freesat said;

We are looking at pay television. There is a lot of discussion around the Freesat and pay television issues taking place at board level. We haven’t taken a final decision. My personal view is that it would be odd for Freesat not to offer the option as well.

This is great news for Freesat (depending on how you look at it), but any developments are likely to be slow; Freesat would require the approval of the BBC Trust before proceeding.

What are your thoughts on the news, would you welcome this option? Leave your comments below and vote using the poll on the left.

No Five HD For Freesat

Five HD today launched on both the Sky and Virgin Media platforms; unfortunately though Freesat isn’t expected to gain this channel any time soon.

Many, including Five themselves will tell you that the reason for the lack of Five HD (as well as Fiver and Five US) is because of space available on the narrow Astra2D beam required to broadcast in the clear as a UK broadcaster.

In reality, the reason is that Sky pay Five a nice sum of money to remain encrypted, ensuring they are the only satellite based platform with these channels. Until a time when Freesat has a sufficient number of viewers (so advertising revenue accounts for more), or Ofcom some how force Five into broadening their access, it looks like we’ll be without.

If anything changes on this, or we get an official response from our questions to Five, we’ll let you know.

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.

Spare Slots Appear On Astra2D Transponder

It would appear that some channels have been removed from one of the Astra2D transponders (10921 H) today; the channels removed seem to be pay-per-view channels serviced by Sky.

Whilst not major news, it has been a long time since 2D slots have opened up so the question will be, what for?

For those not aware, UK broadcasters wishing to broadcast ‘in the clear’ (i.e. FTA) must allocate their channels a slot on the Astra2D beam which is more UK focused to limit access outside the UK; a previous post on this subject can be found here.

With any luck, Channel 4 may be able to buy one of the slots for C4 HD when it comes out of contract with Sky (again) and also Channel Five may be able to grab a few for Fiver and Five US which are presently encrypted (FTV). There may even be space for Five HD!

This is purely speculation though, for all we know, the pay-per-view channels may return or the space may still be rented by Sky and used for other channels they intend launching; but if there is any opportunity for the UK broadcasters to use as a reason to actively pursue the slots, now is the time.

Thanks Rich for alerting us to this development.

Sky Sports on Freesat…whilst it lasts

It was made aware to us by DigitalSpy member ‘rai uno’ that Sky Sports 1-3 and FX UK are currently available FTA (free-to-air). These channels can be added to any non-Sky Digibox, so should work on your Freesat receiver by adding the channels to the non-Freesat mode using the frequency 12110 H 27500 2/3.

We don’t expect these channels to be available for long, there must be a technical error or some deliberate enticement so enjoy whilst you can.