Cisco confirms NDS purchase plan
Cisco plans to integrate NDS into its Videoscape service platform following confirmation of a $5 billion bid for the technology company. A statement from the San Jose-based firm confirmed the bid had already been approved by the boards of directors of both companies. It is expected to close in the second half of 2012, subject to various regulatory approvals. Cisco said the acquisition reflected an increased strategic focus on video, one of its five foundational priorities, and its investment in software and services revenue streams and competencies. Once completed NDS’s global operations, including sites in the United Kingdom, Israel, France, India and China, and approximately 5,000 employees will join the Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group (SPVTG), under general manager Jesper Andersen.
Technicolor sells to Ericsson
Technicolor has received a binding offer from Ericsson for the acquisition of its Broadcast Services activity. It includes a purchase price of €19 million, as well as a potential earn-out based on 2015 revenues of the activity of up to €9 million. Technicolor’s Broadcast Services activity provides play-out services, live production support and media asset management services in three countries – France, the UK and the Netherlands – and the deal should help it expand to new markets. It is also in keeping with Technicolor’s 2012-2015 strategic roadmap, presented by the company on February 24.
iPlayer deal saves BBC Sky platform costs
The amount paid by the BBC towards its carriage on the Sky DTH platform is to be reduced by up to 30% following its agreement to add iPlayer content to Sky Anytime+, Broadband TV News can reveal. A new clause in BSkyB’s Published Price List reduces the amount paid by a public service broadcaster when one of its channels is contributing long form programming over broadband, on demand, to Sky DTH set-top boxes. The BBC has been campaigning for a reduction in the £10 million (€11.4 million) paid for the distribution of its TV and radio content on Sky. The move will reduce the amount paid by the corporation in Platform Contribution Charges for BBC One from BBC1 £4,319,830 per annum to £3,171,460. ITV, Channel 4 and Five would also be eligible for the scheme, though to date the BBC and ITV are the two public service broadcasters that have committed to make on demand content available over Sky Anytime+. ITV currently pays £3,747,925 for its main channel ITV1, a figure that will now fall to £2,751,720 from July. Additional cost savings will be made from 2014, when a reduction in charges will see the amount paid by BBC One fall to £2,090,280.
BBC shows to download after 7-day window
BBC director-general Mark Thompson has confirmed plans to open a new window that would allow viewers to download shows to own seven days after their initial transmission. Speaking to the Royal Television Society, Thompson said a large proportion of what the BBC transmitted was never seen or heard of again once the public service window had closed. Plans for Project Barcelona will be submitted to the BBC Trust later this year. The corporation is currently in talks with the independent sector and its trade association PACT. Under Project Barcelona viewers would be able to download and own their own copy for what Thompson describes as a “modest fee”. He denied that the BBC was creating a second licence fee by stealth and said it was the of going into a high street shop to buy a DVD.
Commission revisits movie inquiry after OTT launches
The Competition Commission is to widen its investigation into the supply of pay-TV movies following the launch of OTT services from Netflix and Lovefilm. In a new working paper the Commission explains the two companies have acquired the rights to stream first subscription pay-TV window (FSPTW) movies from many of the large non-major studios and rights from many major and non-major studios to stream movies in subsequent subscription pay-TV windows. Studios such as MGM, which previously sold their FSPTW content to Sky alone, now have contracts with a number of pay platforms. Netflix and Lovefilm have also opened up a secondary pay window (SSPTW) that runs immediately after the FSPTW. The Commission is seeking to establish whether the launch of the new services from Netflix and Lovefilm impacts on its original findings. In December 2011 Sky said the Commission had failed to consider the impact of competition from the two new entrants.
Free Wi-Fi as Virgin takes the Tube
Virgin Media has been selected to provide public access Wi-Fi at around 120 stations on the London Underground. It is a major win for the cable sector, which is looking to increase its involvement in public infrastructure projects. The contract has been awarded at no cost to either taxpayers or travellers. All Tube passengers will be able to connect to the internet for free, accessing websites, online destinations, news, listings and travel information. Full internet access will be available to Virgin Media’s mobile and broadband subscribers with pay-as-you-go and other commercial levels also available. The first 80 stations will go live in July with the remainder, many of them deep level, connected by the end of the year.
Six multiscreen deployments by Euro-cablers
There were five multiscreen deployments by European cable operators during 2011, bringing the total to six, said Guy Bisson, director television at IHS Screen Digest. The total worldwide number of multiscreen deployments stood at 18 on cable networks, there were 16 for satellite DTH operators, 13 with IPTV platforms and two for DTT services. In Europe, Denmark is leading the way. In Denmark, Stofa and YouSee offer their WebTV service. In the Netherlands, Ziggo TV was launched on second screens, with live TV streaming to the iPad, while in Belgium Telenet rolled out its Yelo second screen service. During the year, Virgin Media launched its Virgin Media Player. Streaming to tablets is a more recent phenomenon, with a few operators such as Ziggo in the Netherlands and Telenet in Belgium as the front-runners.
Good start for Spanish TiVo
Spain’s leading cable operator Ono ended 2011 with almost 8,000 subscribers to its TiVo service. Launched in Madrid and Barcelona in October, it was extended last month to Valencia, Murcia and Santander and, according to a company presentation, achieved “excellent customer satisfaction metrics”. These regions represent 37% of the pay-TV market in Spain and TiVo will continue to be rolled out in the coming quarters. Ono had a total of 923,000 subscribers to its fibre TV services at the end of 2011, or 3.2% less than a year earlier. However, its internet subscriber total rose by 3.6% over the same period to 1,429,000 and telephony customers by 1.3% to 1,708,000. Ono had revenues of €1,485 million in 2011, or 0.9% more than in the previous year, while its EBITDA rose by 3.2% to €748 million and net profit by 7.8% to €50 million.
UPC and Ziggo go QAM256
UPC is in the process of moving is digital TV multiplexes to QAM256 modulation, replacing QAM64. Ziggo has also started using QAM256. The switch from QAM256 to QAM64 makes it possible to stream more channels in a single multiplex, 50.6 Mbps instead of 38 Mbps. This frees up capacity for more digital channels and other services such as broadband access. QAM256 has the disadvantage of being more susceptible to interference and requires a better quality of in-home coax wiring. In order to free up more bandwidth, Ziggo is also in the process of reducing the number of analogue channels it distributes. UPC, on the other hand, said it will keep the current number of analogue channels as it has enough capacity on the network to let its digital TV offer grow. The cabler will extend it digital offer on Tuesday, April 3, with more channels, both SD and HD. For the moment, both operators will continue using DVB-C for the distribution of the TV channels. However, both UPC and Ziggo are studying DVB-C2.
Delay for new DVB 3DTV spec
The latest 3DTV technical specification being developed by the DVB will not be made available until the end of 2013. Speaking at the DVB World conference in Rome, David Wood, chair of the DVB’s 3DTV commercial module, explained the extended period for the work followed last month’s approval of his commercial requirements. “Commercially-speaking the people who started frame compatible broadcasts wanted time for people to get used to it before introducing another one,” he said. The Service Compatible system would require the deployment of new receivers, rather than the use of the existing set-top box inventory used by 3DTV broadcasters to date. Two of the main requirements within DVB 3DTV Phase 2b are backwards compatibility with Frame Compatible reception and full HDTV quality for left and right images.
Italy prepares for OTT rollout
Catch-up TV services from Italy’s leading broadcasters form part of the introduction of over-the-top content delivered to the nation’s terrestrial receivers this May. Italy remains one of the largest markets for the MHP application programming interface, backed by the DVB, and now known under its US moniker GEM. The new over-the-top TV services include catch-up TV from the public broadcaster RAI, commercial broadcasters Mediaset and La 7, and an EPG from the Tivu organization that also runs the FTA satellite platform Tivusat. Marco Pellegrinato, vice president, HD Forum Italia, explained that an over-arching application would provide search functionality that would allow viewers to retrieve content through a single server, regardless of the broadcaster. The delivered content would then be presented in the content providers’ own environment.
CI Plus enabled in 1 in 20 TVs
The CI Plus security module has been enabled in 1 out of 20 TVs shipped, according to John Adam, chairman of CI Plus LLP. Updating the DVB, 12 months after the standards developer took CI Plus under its wing, Adam said a total of 143 million CI Plus certificates had now been issued. Extrapolating the data against the number of TV sets shipped in Europe, Adam said he believed the majority of new TV sets sold in Europe now had CI Plus capability. The system is in use by operators including UPC, Kabel Deutschland, Ziggo and Top Up TV. The new V1.4 specification is anticipated to be available by the summer of 2014, under the CI Plus Sunrise policy, and following the completion of work by the DVB CI Plus technical module at the end of 2012.
| CLOVER'S WEEK
Terrestrial broadcasting reaches its peak
Julian Clover reports from DVB World in Rome.
There was something entirely circular about the DVB World discussion in Rome this week, where at the moment when delegates were discussing the likelihood of broadband encroaching further on TV spectrum, no one in the room could get online. This was a Take That concert ticket moment.
“Not even I have access to the internet,” declared Professor Ulrich Reimers, the father of DVB and the head of the Technical Module, who is to step down from the role at its 100th meeting, to be replaced by the BBC’s Nick Wells.
Last month’s WRC conference saw the beginnings of a debate that could have far reaching consequences for broadcast and broadband alike. At issue are the future needs for wireless broadband and a possible further encroachment into the 700 MHz band.
Not only are broadcasters facing potential interference to their programmes from next generation LTE services, but they may also have to give up a further portion of the band to the telcos whose devices look likely to cause the trouble.
Greg Bensberg, director of spectrum policy at Ofcom, helped find capacity for HD services on Freeview. Today he is involved in a new exercise in spectrum clearance. Bensberg explained to delegates that while looking after the public service broadcasters was a requirement, so too were the “citizen consumers”, who would be using the new devices.
The WRC discussions came as a surprise to many, not least the German car manufacturer BMW. Dr Bertram Hock explained that the BMW owner wanted the very best and this included television for all the passengers, this was particularly true in China, regardless of whether anyone actually watched what was going out.
Such sudden decisions do nothing for the 14 to 18 years of sustainability for BMW, whose sophisticated aerial system involves implanting the antenna in the rear windscreen, so as to ensure that nothing protrudes to spoil the shape of the car.
Customers expect features to run for the lifetime of the vehicle, standards like DVB-T and DVB-T2 cannot be upgraded by software, and swapping out an antenna is expensive if not impossible. Hock said that customers bought functions, not standards. The Digital Dividend came about without sufficient warning and the necessary high order low pass filters for vehicles are neither available nor producible at a reasonable cost.
If not to the satisfaction of motor manufacturers, Reimers had a plan. Work by the Technical University of Braunschweig was developing “Dynamic Broadcasting”.
With increasing availability of PVRs with 1 Terabyte worth of storage and the majority of shows pre-recorded, could the two be married together.
Under Dynamic Broadcast capacity is freed on the broadcast channels and thus gives broadcasters the chance to distribute additional virtual channels.
In his last speech as head of the technical module, Professor Reimers said with the development of DVB-S2, DVB-T2 and DVB-C2 we may have climbed the peak of the Static Broadcast mountain – in the DVB world.
There are of course other mountains to climb.
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