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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Can Freeview succeed?
The BBC has today launched Freeview, the new digital terrestrial television service.
Backed by a consortium including BSkyB and transmitter company Crown Castle International, Freeview replaces ITV Digital, which collapsed due to financial problems.
Viewers will have up to 30 digital television services, plus interactivity and digital radio, through their rooftop aerial, accessed through a new set top box, an old ITV digital box or an integrated digital TV set.
Do you think you'll get Freeview? Can it succeed where ITV Digital failed? Do you have or will you ever have Digital TV?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Although the extra channels are nice to have around, it only means it takes an extra minute to flick through the channels before deciding that there's nothing on. Also, why have the ceefax/teletext services been stopped? Digital text doesn't have the range of information or (ironically) the speed the older system once did.
Albert Bogle, Northern Ireland
At last something to give sky some thing to worry about. If you look at Sky the only thing you can watch free is its news, or programs that want to sell something. Any other things cost you money. But I do think one of the channels should be left open for the use of the public like in the USA. Then Freeview would be the in thing.
The main TV channel I want is E4 and you can only get that on expensive sky/cable packages. What is the point of promoting this to my family if the channel I want isn't there? My little brother and sister would love the CBBC channel and the cartoons available and my father would like BBC4. News on tap appeals as my parents would not be controlled by the TV schedule so much. However myself and my 15 year old brother have the most input on new technology advice to our parents and frankly there is little if anything on for teenagers. So why should we bother? Its a shame because we would love just E4.
It would be nice to have a choice of BBC radio stations and a movie channel!
I spent £99 getting a digital box going on the hype of the programs coming up. Where are they. Very disappointed, wish I had saved my money.
I doubt the success of Freeview. I mean, the choice of channels certainly isn't very exciting is it? Rather dull and boring to be honest. I'd much rather pay for Sky thank you very much!
I live in an area of Lancashire, served by a repeater transmitter. Because of this, even as a licence payer I simply cannot receive the so called 'free to view' channels. The BBC need to meet their commitments and address issues of coverage & infrastructure urgently.
Rod Maxwell, Scotland
I take issue with the person who said, "This is the future". I live one mile outside the south of the M25 and, after inputting my postcode on Freeview's website, was told that my area is not covered by Freeview's signal. Pathetic! Looks like the government have a long way to go before they force us to go digital so they can sell off the analogue frequencies.
The late withdrawal of one or two channels, notably TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has watered down the channels on offer with Freeview to make it very marginal for adults, but not bad if you have children.
David H, London, England
I've checked a range of postcodes for Bournemouth, and the whole town (including Poole) cannot receive Digital Terrestrial services. How many other fairly large towns/areas suffer from this problem?
I got an old ITV Digital box for about £50 a couple of months a go. This means I can now receive Channel 5 whereas I couldn't before, those other Champions League games on ITV2 and catch up with some of the recent series I've missed on BBC. The additions of the new channels are not terribly exciting, but for a fairly low one-off payment it certainly seems value for money to me.
Rose, Biggin Hill, UK
It's great news at last for the folks abandoned with ex-On Digital - but I cannot see that it's worth the £100 outlay on a new box. It must have pay to view to succeed.
Time should have been spent ensuring that coverage of the country was better. I live in a well-populated part of the country but still can't get it.
I bought a pace decoder a few months ago so I could watch widescreen content on my new TV. The quality of picture and sound is top notch although the interface isn't anywhere near as good as Sky's. My only gripe is that I've struggled to find out much information on the new 'launch' before today. It must have a higher profile and all the promised channels working now, not in 2003, it's that kind of thing that puts people off.
Joe Lawrence, England
Freeview is ideal for me. My old ITV Digital box picks up an excellent signal; my kids enjoy CBeebies, no monthly fee, proper widescreen pictures on a widescreen TV. We don't have cable in our area, and this way I don't have to have a hideous satellite dish spoiling the look of my house. Sky TV does offer more channels, but apart from the sport ones, most of these channels broadcast BBC repeats or imported American trash.
As an existing Sky Digital customer who is finding it hard to justify the £30 per month for sport channels which I don't seem to find time to watch, and with a new DVD player under utilised, I am seriously considering trying out Freeview. I would make sure your box retailer agrees to a full refund if not entirely happy with the reception, which has to be as good as Sky digital. I'm surprised at the lack of digital radio channels from the BBC - no Radio 1,2,3 or 4?
When the licence was granted to the BBC/Crown Castle/Sky conglomerate, two channels, Boomerang and TCM were promised as part of the package. Mysteriously they have now disappeared, leaving a mixture of normal terrestrial channels and specialised others that hold very little new content. I can't see people queuing up to buy new boxes to get this stuff, there is nothing original there at all.
Being one of the first to have digital terrestrial many years ago we sent it back because of bad reception and frozen pictures etc. A few months ago we invested in a Pace Box to receive the service once again and have been totally happy with it. If people can forget the bad image of digital and look past the preconceptions I hope they will have hours of good, inexpensive TV ahead of them. It deserves another chance.
All of this depends on whether we can receive the service at all.
We still can't even get Channel 5, so what hope for digital services?
This is the future. I think ITV were just a little too early, the irony being their collapse raised the profile of digital TV to the point that everyone is now aware of it.
It looks like a very rushed token effort for all the ITV digital casualties, who have no doubt all gone over to Sky by now. You cannot add any pay channels, so why bother wasting £100? After the standard media flurry that will bring sales, I would say the lifecycle of this product will finish by Feb 03.
Sounds like a great idea, but I know that we are unable to receive it. The only choice we have is Sky, as cable is not available either. The only problem I have with Sky is the cost (and lack of customer service should you have a query - call centre moan!).
As I have never heard a whisper about this until today I doubt it very much. Something that costs this much to implement needs to have a large customer base and to get that you need to tell people about it.
Being one of those millions who have little interest in spectator sports, who would prefer to buy a DVD than watch a movie on Pay to view TV, and who has little interest in pay to view as a concept, the new DTT is just right. The biggest bonus I have found has been the availability of Radio for me to listen to, as it is far more interesting than anything on watch TV.
I doubt that Freeview will attract a lot of customers after the previously poor performance and eventual collapse of ITV digital. I suspect a large number of viewers decided to sign up to Sky instead.
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