QuickLinks - Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology
QuickLinks - Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology
Issue no. 382 - 6 January 2008
- Fox films 'for rent via iTunes'
Apple and 20th Century Fox studio are to announce a deal that will allow consumers to rent the studio's films through iTunes. They will have a limited time to watch films downloaded from the iTunes store, a source told the Financial Times.
Issue no. 381 - 8 December 2007
Issue no. 379 - 2 September 2007
- UK - Internet groups warn BBC over iPlayer plans
Some of the largest broadband providers in the UK are threatening to "pull the plug" from the BBC's new iPlayer unless the corporation contributes to the cost of streaming its videos over the internet. The likes of Tiscali, BT and Carphone Warehouse are all growing concerned that the impact of hundreds of thousands of consumers watching BBC programmes on its iPlayer, which allows viewers to watch shows over the internet, will place an intolerable strain on their networks. Some of the companies involved have told the BBC that they will consider limiting the bandwidth available to iPlayer, a process known as traffic shaping. The measure would limit the number of consumers who could access the iPlayer at any one time.
- UK - Boundary questions for super-regulator
Ofcom is facing questions about whether its reach should stretch further. The scandals arising from television companies' pursuit of phone-in revenues have highlighted "boundary questions" for the super-regulator. Although broadcasters who deceive the public are answerable to Ofcom, the providers of such premium rate services, or PRS, are regulated by another body, Icstis. At the BBC, meanwhile, although Ofcom can fine the corporation for breaches, its management is answerable in other regards to the new BBC Trust.
Issue no. 376 - 10 June 2007
Issue no. 375 - 9 May 2007
- UK - BBC gets TV on-demand service OK
BBC shows such as Doctor Who and EastEnders are to be made available on-demand after the BBC's iPlayer service was given the green light. The service - which will launch later this year - allows viewers to watch programmes online for seven days after their first TV broadcast. Episodes can also be downloaded and stored for up to 30 days. The BBC Trust gave the iPlayer the go-ahead after consultations with members of the public. See also analysis (Ars Technica).
Issue no. 371 - 28 January 2007
- UK - BSkyB looks at broadcasting straight to mobiles
BSkyB has set its sights on the very small screen with plans to start broadcasting direct to mobile phones, bypassing the existing five mobile phone operators in Britain. The UK's dominant pay-TV operator is considering using technology developed in the United States to beam its most popular programmes on to mobile phones.
Issue no. 368 - 15 October 2006
- Your television is ringing
The past couple of years have seen a series of huge takeovers and mergers among network operators and makers of telecoms equipment around the world. All of these transactions were prompted by a single underlying trend that has become the industry's new mantra: convergence. What this means, roughly, is the coming together of previously separate communications and entertainment services: fixed and mobile telephony, broadband internet access and television. But more often the word is used in a quasi-mystical way to evoke information heaven.
Issue no. 367 - 23 September 2006
- UK - Major TV broadcasters go mobile
BBC One, ITV1 and Channel 4 are to be broadcast to mobile phones as part of a mobile TV service launched by BT. BT Movio will offer BBC One, ITV1 and E4 live - but with some films, sport and US shows removed from the line-ups. Channel 4 will broadcast a slimmed-down version. The service will be the first to be broadcast via the DAB digital radio network instead of the 3G phone system.
Issue no. 364 - 7 July 2006
- UK - BSkyB poised for aggressive 'triple-play' deals
BSkyB is expected to confirm on July 18 whether it will raise the stakes in the battle of the broadband providers and match competitors' offers of 'free' high-speed internet access. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of BSkyB, told investors in his News Corporation group that the pay-TV group would unveil its broadband strategy in the middle of next month. The full launch of BSkyB's internet and voice-call service is expected soon after.
Issue no. 363 - 25 June 2006
- UK - ITV signs deal for net broadcasts
ITV programmes will be available to watch on the internet and on mobile phones for up to a month after they have been shown on TV under a new deal. The broadcaster has followed Channel 4 and BBC in signing a new media rights deal with producers' trade body Pact.
Issue no. 362 - 11 June 2006
Issue no. 354 - 31 January 2006
- King content
Don't write off Hollywood and the big media groups just yet. The internet is still in the digital equivalent of the silent-film era. It has been formidable for text, still images and music, but is only now, with broadband access, entering an age of high-quality video. As it does so, Time Warner, News Corporation, Disney and other media companies will be able to cash in on their film and television archives.
Issue no. 351 - 11 December 2005
Issue no. 343 - 4 September 2005
- UK - BBC puts shows on net and mobiles
The BBC is to accelerate plans to broadcast programmes and entire channels on the internet and on mobile phones, using popular shows such as Doctor Who in a series of pilots designed to assess public demand. see also Big beast BBC won't swamp commercial rivals in new media. Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, has laid out a vision for the future that includes more commercial partnerships for the public service broadcaster as it expands into new media services. Mr Thompson said the broadcaster needed to expand out of its traditional TV and radio services in order to justify its licence fee in the coming years. The renewed focus on broadband or on-demand services is likely to alarm commercial rivals, who fear the BBC's expansion provides unfair competition.
Issue no. 342 - 31 July 2005
- Telecoms, television and the internet - The war of the wires
Established telecoms companies are fighting an increasingly bitter battle against innovative attackers. They plan to deliver TV, movies and other entertainment to customers via hugely enhanced broadband connections using internet protocol?a service known in short as IPTV. IPTV forms part of a larger, and quite desperate, defensive strategy now being adopted by telecoms firms against fierce attacks on multiple fronts. On one front are cable giants, which are luring customers with a bundle of TV, broadband and telephony services. On a second front are mobile-phone operators, which young customers in particular are increasingly using to "cut the cord" from their fixed-line company. But arguably most dangerous of all is the third front, where traditional telecoms firms are under attack from voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) providers, which use the internet to carry conversations that would previously have taken place via a conventional phone.
Issue no. 339 - 29 May 2005
Issue no. 338 - 7 May 2005
- UK - Ofcom may have to police internet content
Media regulators across Europe could be forced to police internet content for taste and decency in the same way as television programmes, according to proposals under consideration in Brussels. The plans have led to fears at the British media watchdog Ofcom that this may stifle innovation in the nascent broadband content industry and prove impossible to enforce. see also Can the Internet be regulated.
- FR - French Switch
France was one of the last big European countries to launch DTT services (after the UK, Germany, and Italy) but it could very well soon take over its neighbours. In only 3 weeks since its launch in March 31st, about 300,000 DTT decoders have been sold. Coverage is not nationwide but it will be by 2007. In a year the 1 million objective could be easily outdone.
Issue no. 333 - 2 March 2005
Issue no. 330 - 30 January 2005
- UK - Net regulation 'still possible'
The blurring of boundaries between TV and the internet raises questions of regulation, watchdog Ofcom has said. Content on TV and the internet is set to move closer this year as TV-quality video online becomes a norm. At a debate in Westminster, the net industry considered the options. Lord Currie, chairman of super-regulator Ofcom, told the panel that protecting audiences would always have to be a primary concern for the watchdog. Despite having no remit for the regulation of net content, disquiet has increased among internet service providers as speeches made by Ofcom in recent months hinted that regulation might be an option.
Issue no. 329 - 23 January 2005
- Gates taking a seat in your den
Bill Gates is coming to your living room, whether you like it or not. Microsoft's chairman is setting the company on a course to provide software and tools that will allow different forms of entertainment to blend. Messaging will become a crucial part of Xenon, the code name for the next Xbox. Microsoft will also work with television outlets like the Discovery Channel and MTV Networks to create tools for delivering content, as well as advertising, into the home.
Issue no. 324 - 21 November 2004
- EU - New Commission pledges "improved co-operation" with media industry
An innovation following Viviane Reding's appointment as 'co-ordinator for relations with the media' will be the creation of a 'one-stop-shop' for the press as an industry. Reding's co-ordination role would involve three aspects: * An early warning system consisting of more systematic consultations between Commission departments and with the media industry (a contact point for the media sector in the new DG Information Society, Media and Audiovisual Policy would be created and correspondents in commissioners' cabinets with responsibility for 'media affairs' could be introduced). * Monitoring economic and social developments in the media sector. * Making new proposals to "help the media to become more competitive" and make "full use of the opportunities offered by the single market" (VAT is cited as a possible issue here). However, she emphasised that 'soft laws' such as co- or self-regulatory measures would be the Commission's preferred instrument. As legislative measures on media concentration fall under member states' responsibilities, EU competition law can only invoked to ensure market access for new entrants, Reding explained. "It is difficult to find a legal basis for legislative action on media ownership at the EU level."
Issue no. 318 - 5 September 2004
- The next moves - Convergence in the communications and content industries
(Economist Intelligence Unit)
sponsored by Agilent Technologies.
- UK - BBC wizardry set to make waves
The finest technology wizards at the BBC have been working on a gizmo called the interactive Media Player (or iMP) that will allow licence-fee payers to watch BBC programmes at a time and place of their choosing. BSkyB have bet that at least 2.5 million subscribers will have Sky Plus hard-disk recorders by the end of the decade, dramatically changing the way they watch TV. At the same time Wanadoo, BT and others are poised to invest tens of millions in delivering video-on-demand services to the 4.7m broadband homes in the UK. And the networked home is no longer science fiction but mainstream fact. Within a couple of years, wi-fi will provide the low-cost means of bridging the divide between PC and TV, or set-top box and broadband connection, in millions of homes. The iMP is the BBC's response to these trends, together with the Creative Archive, a vast public archive of BBC footage.
Issue no. 317 - 22 August 2004
- EU - Communication on interoperability of interactive digital TV
Member States should continue to promote open and interoperable standards for interactive digital TV - including the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) standard - on a voluntary basis, says the European Commission in a new Communication on the interoperability of interactive digital TV. There is no clear case for imposing technical standards at present, but the issue should be reviewed again in 2005. Proposals made by the Commission include setting up a Member State group on MHP implementation, confirming that Member States can offer consumer subsidies for interactive TV receivers - subject to state aid rules - and monitoring access to proprietary digital interactive TV applications.
- UK - BBC offers Olympic Games via broadband
The BBC will this week begin its first widespread use of live broadband internet broadcasting, for coverage of the Olympic Games. Home internet users will have access to more than 1,200 hours of live coverage from the Games, with five broadband streams broadcasting exclusive events as well as normal TV programming. Specialist software known as Geo-IP, from supplier Quova, will be used to ensure programmes can only be viewed in the UK. Multicasting will help the BBC reduce costs by sending out content to distributed servers and ISPs once, allowing many recipients to access content from the same source. Using geographic analysis of cache and computer proxies, as well as ISP records, the BBC will also use Geo-IP for future streaming projects where it wants to differentiate programming by territory.
Issue no. 316 - 1 August 2004
- UK - Ofcom - Busy body?
The new media super-regulator has had an incredibly active first few months and it has had its share of critics. Here Ofcom's chairman David Currie tells Maggie Brown what's gone right - and wrong.
- UK - Coming soon to your living room
Everything from games consoles to PCs and hi-fis will soon be linked in the average digital household. So how will it affect the way we receive media? In June, a new body called the Digital Living Network Alliance, an umbrella group comprising more than 145 companies, including Microsoft, Intel and Sony, set down a list of common principles: their aim is to ensure that everything from pocket computers to PCs and hi-fis will be able to interact by communicating with each other within the home over a network using common standards.
- UK - Wanadoo plans video-on-demand launch
Wanadoo, the UK's biggest internet service provider, is planning to launch a new online video-on-demand service next year and is set to begin partnership talks with pay-TV operators including BSkyB and NTL. It hopes to be able to offer channels such as Sky Sports and Sky One in addition to movies, music and big events to broadband subscribers. If BSkyB strikes a deal it would potentially mean that sports fans would no longer have to buy a package of channels they did not want, being able instead to cherry-pick their favourite events. Eric Abensur, the UK managing director of Wanadoo, also revealed that the company - formerly called Freeserve until the service was rebranded earlier this year - is working with Orange to develop a cheap all-in-one phone service. Both Orange and Wanadoo are owned by France Telecom. The company recently dropped the price of its entry-level broadband service to £17.99 a month and yesterday launched its new Livebox service, an all in one wireless "home gateway" box that will allow subscribers to link PCs, televisions, games consoles and other devices around the home wirelessly.
Issue no. 313 - 13 June 2004
Issue no. 310 - 16 May 2004
Issue no. 305 - 28 March 2004
- Interoperability of Interactive Digital TV Services - Public consultation
On 18 March the European Commission launched a wide-ranging consultation on the interoperability of interactive television services, based on a Commission Staff Working Paper setting out the issues raised by interoperability. Written comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30th April at the latest, and should be marked "Interactive television" in the subject line. To facilitate an exchange of views, there will be a public hearing in Brussels on April 20th.
Issue no. 299 - 24 January 2004
- UK - Oxford Media Convention 2004
Blog of an attendee at the Oxford Media Convention Tuesday 13 January 2004. see also CommsWatch Roger Darlington's new blog and official texts of speeches by Ofcom Chief Executive Stephen Carter, BBC Director of Public Policy Caroline Thomson and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports Tessa Jowell .
- US - Disney tests a system for video on demand
(New York Times)
U.S. service blends content and delivery. Walt Disney Co. has been quietly testing a video-on-demand service in three U.S. cities since October. The company's executives talk about the service, called MovieBeam, as a modest business that is an attractive alternative for consumers who want to avoid paying high late fees to video rental stores. But in fact, MovieBeam is more than just a way to help movie fans save money. It is also an early salvo by Disney in the battle over who controls content: entertainment creators or those who distribute it, like cable and satellite services.
- US - Test brings clones of TV ads to Internet
(New York imes)
Television commercials, in all their big, loud glory, are coming to the Web. More than a dozen Web sites, including MSN, ESPN, Lycos and iVillage, will run full-motion video commercials from Pepsi, AT&T, Honda and Warner Brothers in a six-week test that some analysts and online executives say could herald the start of a new era of Internet advertising.
Issue no. 295 - 21 December 2003
- France Télécom et TPS donnent le coup d'envoi de leur TV sur ADSL
Avec MaLigne TV, France Télécom débarque sur le marché grand public de la télévision sur ADSL, en collaboration avec TPS. Après avoir signé avec LDCom et Cegetel, le groupe Canal+ négocie avec France Télécom. Dans un premier temps, l'offre commerciale de FT - MaLigne TV - sera disponible dans 80 % de l'agglomération lyonnaise (Lyon, et communauté urbaine du Grand Lyon), soit environ 500 000 foyers. Elle sera étendue à Paris dès le printemps 2004. L'opérateur affiche un objectif de 4 millions de foyers raccordés dès 2004, et de 10 millions à l'horizon 2005-2006.
Issue no. 294 - 14 December 2003
- DE - Erotic Media: Rundfunk oder Mediendienst?
Pornographie soll nach einem Entscheid der Landesmedienanstalten als so genannter 'Mediendienst' auch hierzulande im Fernsehen möglich werden. DIGITAL FERNSEHEN sprach dazu mit Prof. Kurt-Ulrich Mayer, Präsident des Medienrates der Sächsischen Landesanstalt für privaten Rundfunk und neue Medien (SLM) und Mitglied der Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz (KJM).
Issue no. 293 - 7 December 2003
- US - FCC seeks to overturn cable broadband ruling
The Federal Communications Commission filed a petition requesting a rehearing in a case that could bring new federal regulations to the cable broadband industry. The agency submitted the 19-page document to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the hope that the court would grant a new hearing of its October ruling, which declared that the FCC was wrong to classify cable broadband services as "information services." Cable broadband actually has qualities of both information and "telecommunications" services, that ruling said.
- US - Truce called in media ownership row
The US congress has settled its row with the White House over sweeping changes to the country's media ownership laws that will allow giants such as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Time Warner and Viacom to tighten their grip on local broadcasters. According to congressional negotiators, both sides have settled for a 39% limit on the proportion of audience reached nationally by any network of local stations. US lawmakers had originally wanted to bar the federal communications commission from raising the limit to 45%. Under the compromise, media companies including News Corp, which owns the Fox network and the DirecTV satellite operation, and NBC and MTV owner Viacom, will be able to keep the assets that they built up in anticipation of the change in the law.
Issue no. 292 - 23 November 2003
- DE - DLM beschließt Abgrenzungspapier Rundfunk/Mediendienste
Ergebnisse der 154. Sitzung der Direktorenkonferenz der Landesmedienanstalten (DLM) am 6. November 2003. Die DLM hat sich mit der Abgrenzung von Rundfunk und Mediendiensten auseinandergesetzt und hierzu ein Strukturpapier einstimmig beschlossen. Dieses Strukturpapier gibt Kriterien und Handlungsempfehlungen für die Abgrenzung vor. In materieller Hinsicht beruht die Abgrenzung auf dem Tatbestandsmerkmal der Darbietung, die durch die Meinungsbildungsrelevanz der jeweiligen Angebote gekennzeichnet ist. Die Meinungsbildungsrelevanz wiederum lässt sich nach der Rechtsprechung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts anhand ihrer Breitenwirkung, Aktualität und Suggestivkraft messen. Das Papier wird derzeit noch redaktionell überarbeitet und steht in Kürze zur Verfügung.
Issue no. 288 - 19 October 2003
Issue no. 284 - 21 September 2003
- IT - Italian media bill 'does not threaten pluralism'
Of all the measures put to Italy's parliament by Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government, few have attracted more hostility than a bill that critics say will entrench the prime minister's supremacy over the national media landscape. Yet according to Maurizio Gasparri, Italy's minister for communications, who is steering the bill through its final stages, the critics could not be more wrong.
- UK - BBC boss blasts media ownership law
BBC director general Greg Dyke has attacked a change in the law which allows foreign firms to bid for UK television franchises. 'I was passionately opposed to the change in the law that allowed American media companies to buy ITV and Channel 5,' he said. But Mr Blair's former media advisor Ed Richards, who now works for new regulator Ofcom, said that there had been full consultation with Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and their departments before the rules were relaxed, he said. He also defended the new legislation itself. Tough rules on content would protect the quality of programming, while US companies could bring some much-needed competition into the UK television industry, he said.
- US - Senate Votes to Block FCC Media Rules
The Senate voted 55 to 40 to wipe out all of the Federal Communications Commission's controversial new media ownership rules, the broadest bipartisan repudiation yet of regulations that would free big media companies to get bigger. The Republican-controlled Senate passed a "resolution of disapproval," a little-used legislative tool that allows Congress to overturn federal agency regulations.
Issue no. 283 - 14 September 2003
Issue no. 282 - 7 September 2003
- US - Court stays rules on media owners
(New York Times)
A federal appeals court issued a surprise order blocking the Federal Communications Commission from imposing new rules that would make it easier for the nation's largest media conglomerates to add new markets and areas of business. The decision came a day before the new rules, considered among the most significant efforts at deregulation adopted during the Bush administration, were scheduled to take effect. Former radio pirates relish victory against FCC (AP), FCC puts brakes on transfers of radio, TV station licenses. see also Panel Fires Shot Across FCC's Bow (Washingon Post). The Senate Appropriations Committee dealt another potential setback to the Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership rules, adding an amendment to a spending bill that would prevent the agency from raising its cap on the size of large broadcast television networks.
- US - The two faces of the FCC
By Randolph J. May. On Aug. 21, the Federal Communications Commission finally released the monstrous official text of its inelegantly denominated triennial review of unbundled network elements. This is the long-awaited decision governing the extent to which incumbent telephone companies such as Verizon Communications and SBC Communications must share their local networks with competitors at government-mandated discounted prices. Although worse epitaphs could be hurled at the agency, the best that can be said is that the FCC's order is decidedly two-faced.
Index page see also Audiovisual | Internet access and use | Telecommunications
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