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Microsoft Eyes UK Digital TV Provider 190

Posted by timothy
from the cradle-to-grave dept.
xiox writes: "This story by the BBC claims that Microsoft are planning to "rescue" the failed digital TV provider in the UK, ITV Digital. This would enable them to get a large share of the British TV market, as the British Government has decided that all TVs will have to switch over to digital by 2010."
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Microsoft Eyes UK Digital TV Provider

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  • rumours (Score:3, Informative)

    by 56ker (566853) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:36PM (#3424888) Homepage Journal
    There are all sorts of rumours spreading about ITV Digital at the moment - rumours they've struck a deal with clubs over lowering the amount of cash they'll pay them - rumours as to whether they'll go bankrupt or find a buyer first - how much cash they have left - the list goes on - but they're all that so far - just rumours!
  • Oh great (Score:5, Informative)

    by greg2000 (558606) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:53PM (#3424952)
    So Now anyone in the UK who wants Digital TV is going to have to chose between Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates. Fantastic ;-)


    For those Americans Not in the Know obout our state of affairs accross the pond, ITV digital has Over bidded to get the TV rights to most Football (Soccar) games over here and as a result has gone bust. It's parent companies (both established broadcasters "Carlton" and "Granada" are using Legagal technicalities to get out of paying the Football clubs the money they were promised. This has left a lot of smaller, less well off clubs facing financial ruin, unless a buyer can be found. Whilst it is true that I think Microsoft is Vile, if it saves all of the threatened clubs my opinion of them will increase dramatically.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:15PM (#3425030)
    This would enable them to get a large share of the British TV market, as the British Government has decided that all TVs will have to switch over to digital by 2010.

    ITV Digital? "Large share"? Don't make me laugh. Many of us can't even get channel 5 properly, yet, in spite of being in a major city. Those who have satellite and/or cable forget that there are still many, many people in the UK who don't.

    This whole story is one big sensationalist rumour. I've heard so many "possibler buyer" stories about ITV Digital in the past couple of weeks that I've lost track. Why is this one any more likely?

  • by dackroyd (468778) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:30PM (#3425086) Homepage
    Ironically they could have used one on the remote - one of the reasons why ITV Digital has gone under is the pathetic quality of their set top boxes.

    I used to have one and the top list of annoyances has to be:
    1) The channel refusing to change at all, despite having new batteries in the remote

    2) The channel change refusing to take the second digit of a channel change - "No goddamnit I said channel 26 not channel 2"

    3) Flipping through channels takes ages as it takes almost two seconds to buffer enough data to display a new channel, so scrolling from Sky 1(26) to MTV(33) would take 15 seconds...annoying if you're just checking to see if JackAss has come on yet.

    4) Having to walk over to the box to reboot it (by pulling the power cable out)about once a week, as the box refuses any input from the remote (including on/off)

    5)Super low picture quality. I don't know what codec they were using, but from the banding it looked like they were converting the image to 16-bit before converting it into a mpeg-type stream. This is okay for normal shots such as people in a room, but for Star Trek it sucked as any subtle colourations in the background would be displayed as three bands across the screen.

    But at least they weren't owned by Rupert "Pay no taxes" Murdoch. I suspect M$ won't buy them as their tech is so bad and they are direct competitors to R.Murdochs Sky One in the UK, and it would probably be a mistake for Microsoft to make him a strategic opponent.

  • Another article (Score:3, Informative)

    by cca93014 (466820) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:41PM (#3425116) Homepage
    from the UK Sunday The Observer can be found here [observer.co.uk]
  • Re:Oh great (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cally (10873) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:58PM (#3425176) Homepage

    It's parent companies (both established broadcasters "Carlton" and "Granada" are using Legagal technicalities to get out of paying the Football clubs the money they were promised.


    Not at all. Carlton and Granada are limited liability companies; this is what limited liability means - they are not liable for ITV Digital's debt just because they own a majority of the shares ('stock'). How would you like it if a compnay went bankrupt and you found yourself liable for their debt because you owned some shares in them?

    The F.A. were greedy. Football players were greedy. ITV Digital were greedy. You may have noticed, there's been a lot of this in the last few years....

  • Re:Consortium? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2002 @02:27PM (#3425314)
    Because having lots of cash doesn't mean you have to be stupid with it. Microsoft needs a consortium for one simple reason - it's never run a terrestrial digital TV station in the UK before. If you want to jump into a new market that currently looses millions a day, you want to be able to stem the flow of cash from it, not by pumping your money into it, but by recruiting experience which can reverse your fortunes...

    If you had lots of cash in the bank, would you spend some of it on a loss-making business?

  • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @06:42PM (#3426249) Homepage
    ITV Digital != ITV.

    They just share a similar name (Granada are/were a large shareholder to ITV digital but that's as far as it went).
  • by Dan-DAFC (545776) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @07:15PM (#3426383) Homepage
    ITV Digital shot themselves in the foot by paying nearly £400 million for the television rights for the three divisions of the Football League (lots of people said at the time it was a ridiculous price).

    The number one reason for Murdoch's success with Sky was that he managed to get rights for the Premiership football, which meant anyone who wanted to watch the matches (which is a lot of people in the UK) had to get Sky.

    ITV tried the same trick with the Football League rights but somehow didn't understand that very few people would subscribe just to be able to watch Football League matches.

    Premiership football has (inter)national appeal, people all over the country (and indeed the World) will watch it because it is one of the top three domestic leagues in the World (along with the La Liga in Spain and Serie A in Italy), the quality is good and many of the World's top players play in the Premiership. In contrast, the lower levels of football have only regional appeal. When Grimsby play Gillingham the only people interested are those in Grimsby and Gillingham (and many of these will actually go to the game rather than watching it on TV) the rest of the country doesn't care.

    However, I think (though I may be wrong) that the rights have already reverted back to the Football League so that they can resell them to the highest bidder (which is bound to be much lower than the original deal), so Microsoft acquiring ITV Digital would not necessarily mean Microsoft acquiring the broadcasting rights for the Football League.
  • Re:ITV Digital (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:23AM (#3427827)
    ITV Digital does not get "chipped". The way round the encryption is to use either a Gold Card, MOSC (Modified Original Smart Card), or Season interface (connected to a PC). Gold Cards are by far the most prevalent. Chipping is virtually unheard of, and is of no value.
    Your comment suggests you have no idea what you're talking about.

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