Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Eyes UK Digital TV Provider

Comments Filter:
  • rumours (Score:3, Informative)

    by 56ker (566853) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:36AM (#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!
  • is it me? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by da_Den_man (466270)
    Or does it seem like MS is trying awfully hard to get involved in "every thing " to appear to be helping. Yet, it seems to be all about control. Now, This may be off topic and modded as such, but maybe Government is not what we should be fearing...but rather the Corporations behind the government votes. Everyone in the US learned that their vote doesn't amount to much with the past Presidential election...so maybe this is where the "Big Brother" aspect will appear...
    • Everyone in the US learned that their vote doesn't amount to much with the past Presidential election

      You mean the 42.5% of eligbile people who actually did vote.


      Or does it seem like MS is trying awfully hard to get involved in "every thing " to appear to be helping.
      Or maybe just to make, you know, money.

      Yet, it seems to be all about control.
      I disagree. I think its about, you know, making money. "Control" is a lot of work. It is much easier to just make money by making a product and then selling it for money.

      but rather the Corporations behind the government votes
      I don't fear corporations at all. Because the great thing about corporations is that participation is voluntary. I fear government, because participation is mandatory.

      I also fear hypocrites who worry about MS being "big brother" while happily using Frontpage to create their home page.
      • Re:is it me? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grung0r (538079)
        I don't fear corporations at all. Because the great thing about corporations is that participation is voluntary. I fear government, because participation is mandatory.

        Particapation is not voluntary, you just have a choice as to who you chose to particapte with(Unless you want to live in a cave and hunt your food). As corporate consolidation continues, your choice will disapear as well.

        I disagree. I think its about, you know, making money. "Control" is a lot of work. It is much easier to just make money by making a product and then selling it for money.

        Microsoft may just want to make money, but they need to exert control over the consumer and the market to make more. To do that they need to goverment on their side. Thinking otherwise is just naive.

        • YOu are wrong. Making more money does not take more control.

          You have nothing to support your spurious argument except to call me naive.

          So please, do explain, why is "control" ala "Big Brother" required to make money? Are there not *thousands* of companies making money without torturing civil liberties?
          • Re:is it me? (Score:2, Insightful)

            by grung0r (538079)
            control Pronunciation Key (kn-trl)
            tr.v. controlled, controlling, controls
            1:To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over; direct. See Synonyms at conduct.
            2:To adjust to a requirement; regulate: controlled trading on the stock market; controls the flow of water.
            3:To hold in restraint; check: struggled to control my temper.
            4:To reduce or prevent the spread of: control insects; controlled the fire by dousing it with water.

            There is more to the word control then just your black and white, Orwellian or not view of it. When microsoft goes around buying up companys like there going out of style, thats control(of the market). When you can't by an OEM computer without windows on it, thats control(of the conusmer). There are lots of exapmples of companys removing choice from the consumer, ala "control". the best example is media conglomerates. The next time you watch the news, ,listen to the radio, buy a cd, watch tellivison, or see a movie rember that all of that is CONTROLED by 6 or so companys, and that number gets smaller all the time. How long before it's 2? or 1? That's control. Do our civil liberties suffer becuase of this? Absolutly.
            • The next time you watch the news, ,listen to the radio, buy a cd, watch tellivison, or see a movie rember that all of that is CONTROLED by 6 or so companys
              Wrong, because I dont watch TV, listen to Radio, or buy CDs.

              That means no control.

              Second, MS buying up small players in other markets is not control. Thats expansion. There is still plenty of competition in *each* of the markets they are trying to get into (Thats why they get in to start with).

              Finally, OEM is just one way to buy a PC. They "control" one portion of one piece of one market. Thats like saying I "control" the world because I own a house. Hardly.
      • "I also fear hypocrites who worry about MS being "big brother" while happily using Frontpage to create their home page."

        nice to see some realism overhere @ /. :-)

        (ps. he *really* uses frontpage to create his webpage, amazing ...)
    • OH FUCK ME, NO!
    • They would be putting themselves in a somewhat compromised position here. They are more interested in buying succeeding businesses (like their attempt at Nintendo).

      What they are trying to do is expand into other markets. All big corporations try to 'diversify,' otherwise they get bloated, top-heavy and sink. MS is just looking around for other markets to get into in order to keep themselves going.

      • They would be putting themselves in a somewhat compromised position here. They are more interested in buying succeeding businesses (like their attempt at Nintendo).

        Not necessarily. Companies that succeed may invest in other good companies, true, but other good investments would be:

        1. a company that increases sales of your existing products by more than what it costs you. The company could be losing money on its basic product line in order to support the sales of the parent organization.
        2. a marginally profitable company that would have a major negative impact on your sales if you allowed it to go down the drain.


        As an example of (2), consider the privatization of CompUSA. 51% ownership went to private ownership in Mexico. The rest was divided up amongst one of the baby Bell telephone companies, Microsoft, and someone else (don't remember right now; not important here). IIRC, MS got about 10% of Comp and may still have it.

        CompUSA was not anybody's model of a successful company. But without Comp, MS would have lost a large chunk of their retail presence.

        In this case, (British TV), it does look like they're trying to get a foothold in a new market. But is it to make a profit out of TV production or because a new, national WindowsTV would make big bucks in license sales?

      • Re:not control here (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chris Johnson (580)
        There's a limit to how much they can keep themselves going, though, because they aren't based on being a sustainable business. They're based on being a rapidly expanding business, their whole earnings structure and valuation is based on that. It is IMPOSSIBLE for them to go forever on that basis. So you might ask, at what point would it be good to stop them and ride out the crash, given that it's gotta happen at some point?
    • No Surprise (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thenomain (537937)
      Even if the rumors aren't true, this is no surprise. Even before WebTV and MSN (and MSNBC, and so on), Microsoft has planned to get into the telecom business. Don't believe me? Pick up a pre-revised copy of _The Road Ahead_ at your local used bookstore. There is at least one chapter about the future of Microsoft.

      At one point there was a rumor that MS wanted to have a controlling investment in a communications satellite. I don't know what happened with that.
    • Maybe it's just me, but isn't this a fairly obvious move for MS? Microsoft clearly wants to diversify out of the study and into the front room, hence the X-Box. Meanwhile, according to this article [bbc.co.uk], ITV Digital is looking for someone to take over 1.3M set-top boxes. If I'm not much mistaken, those boxes can be reprogrammed remotely, so this is a perfect opportunity for MS to extend their own brand of integrated services into the living room.

      If you ask me, they should also release an X-Box with a built in decoder. I despise Microsoft, and I'm perfectly happy with my PS2, but I'd be very likely to pay £199 for an X-Box that came with Sky One for a year.
  • Looks like another step in a new for media control between Microsoft and AOL-TW.

    Lets hope the consumer wins out - but then again :-

    <i>"British Government has decided that all TVs will have to switch over to digital by 2010"</i>

    Hmmmm ...
    • This isn't as strange as it sounds - it's happening in a lot of countries. Basically terestrial TV is very expensive to keep hoing. It would in fact be cheaper to give everybody in the UK a free digiTV box than to keep the old TV service running... hence the aim to phase it out.

      ...and then we can have another spectrum auction and sting the telcos again :-).

    • God no ... we don't really have the AOL-TW thing in the UK.

      We have BBC vs Channel 4, that's no bad thing.
      • by darien (180561) <darien&gmail,com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:40PM (#3425362)
        Well, we had ITV Digital vs. Sky Digital, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International. It was never a remotely equal battle. In fact MS is probably one of the few companies big enough to take on Murdoch. And just think - two vast cross-media companies, each with billions of pounds to spend, slugging it out in cut-throat competition for market share. Sounds like heaven for the happy consumer caught in the crossfire. As long as one of the companies doesn't actually win, of course.
    • "British Government has decided that all TVs will have to switch over to digital by 2010"

      Hmmmm ...

      The plan being to license the space that is used by terestial TV broadcast to mobile phone companies(and others) for use with new digital services including not only voice but data services. I doubt the mobile phone companies will be interested though since they have been stuck with a rather large bill for the 3G licenses which no customers seem intested in using.

      • I doubt the mobile phone companies will be interested though since they have been stuck with a rather large bill for the 3G licenses which no customers seem intested in using.

        It's not that we're not interested, it's just that there's nothing for us to buy yet! I think GPRS is the only new technology that's appeared since that auction, and that's really not what 3G is about.

        According to Nokia [nokia.com]:

        * 3G is being on a train and watching clips from your favorite soap
        * 3G is being out and sending images back to headquarters
        * 3G is using your phone to take holiday pictures to instantly send to friends at home
        * 3G is using your phone for a videoconference in a taxi

        I think we'd best wait until there's a product that actually does this before declaring that customers aren't interested in the technology!
    • 2010 is *not* going to happen.

      An STB costs £100 a throw. My video is analogue, I have 3 analogue TVs. My WinTV card is analogue. My Tivo is analogue.

      Before this switchover is even going to be remotely realistic then STBs have to be down to about £10 or less. All new videos and TVs have to be equipped with digital. Conversion of existing sets must be available at a minimal cost.

      None of this is happening. The adoption of digital won't realistically even *start* until this is true. It is currently impossible to by a 14" portable digital set. The smallest digital TV available is a 28" widescreen and it weighs in at £700. OK for rich ubergeeks, but for the other 99% of the population conversion isn't practical.

      My mother saw the pace STB on breakfast TV, and since she had some money spare decided to get one. Looked at it, phoned me in confusion, then sent it back. It only supports SCART input (which she can't use)... great f*cking move guys...

  • Consortium? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seizer (16950) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:39AM (#3424898) Homepage
    The software giant is one of several firms trying to assemble a consortium to take over the wreckage

    Why on earth do they need a consortium? ITV Digital's debts are in the region of a few hundred million pounds, as far as I know, but Microsoft is sitting on an actual cash pile of tens of billions. If they truly want it, then the only reason not to buy it outright is surely a political one, not problem of means!
    • Re:Consortium? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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?

    • Why on earth do they need a consortium? ITV Digital's debts are in the region of a few hundred million pounds, as far as I know, but Microsoft is sitting on an actual cash pile of tens of billions.

      Microsoft do not have much experience in the TV business and none in the UK. Partners bring more to the table than money, they bring contacts and expertise.

      A TV station needs content, content providers need a distribution channel. Practicaly every cable TV station has significant ownershop from the cable networks.

  • by bildstorm (129924) <peter,buchy&shh,fi> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:39AM (#3424901) Homepage Journal

    So will Microsoft be giving away a new version of the X-Box as a digital tv receiver? That'd be about the only way to boost sales of X-Box games there.

    • So will Microsoft be giving away a new version of the X-Box as a digital tv receiver? That'd be about the only way to boost sales of X-Box games there.

      In that situation people would probably keep trying to fit their rented movies into it.

      Consumer: "Well, it came from the TV provider, and it's as big as a VCR..."
    • If they did use X-BOXes as receivers, Nintendo, Sony, and the like might scream antitrust. Just like it is for distributing various pieces of software with Windows, only this time, MS would get sued by Sony, Nintendo, and the like.
      • Offer a choice - a set-top box for £219, or a decoder that plugs into the X-Box for £19. Say it's much cheaper than the box because it mostly runs as software on the X-Box's processor, so it needs far fewer and simpler components. That would have the desired effect, and I think it'd be hard to prosecute.
        • The DTT standards are already decided - It's a british take on european standards. Partly this is to stop the exact thing you're suggesting - that one company could get a monopoly on STB production. Sure, MS could put a DTT decoder in the XBox, but it wouldn't be any different to anyone elses decoder. Where they could add value is with DVR capabilities, where they would be competing directly with sky+ (which is £50 installation, so £219 would succeed about as well as trying to make a brick float).

    • I guess giving them away would be the only way people would actually buy the things.. I dont even know a single person who owns an Xbox (and I do know quite a few console owners).

      That said, I have contemplated picking up an Xbox for two simple reasons :

      a) I really want to play Halo.. Microsoft should use that Warthog Jump video as a promotional item.. just watching that made me want the game :)

      b) I have been offered an Xbox for £75 ($109) - even if I decide it sucks I can sell it back on for double what I bought it for :)
  • Microsoft buys UK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nyjx (523123) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:39AM (#3424902) Homepage
    Seems to tie in nicely with the The Register [theregister.co.uk]'s long running set of services of Microsoft tying up the UK government's on-line and internal services [theregister.co.uk].

    If this happens we may need to float the british iles off into the mid atlantic and quietly sink them.

    • If this happens we may need to float the british iles off into the mid atlantic and quietly sink them.

      Or attach them to the USA and make them another state.
    • *Cough*

      The UK is only one of the countries in the British Isles. In Ireland we're not kowtowing to Microsoft to quite the same degree as His Tonyness... although Microsoft is a huge employer here, they haven't yet shown any interest in taking us over completely.
    • Ah we're just lulling Microsoft into a false sense of security - give it all these short term contracts. Then 12 months down the line when everything's not working the way they promised it would - switch to open source and hit Microsoft were it hurts!
    • No surprise. They already bought the USA.

      The_Shadows[LTH], out.
  • Wow wont it be great when everything is controlled by microsoft?

    Just think: Microsoft TV can hype Microsoft OS that is bundled with Microsoft Internet that wont let you see all that nasty "free" and "good" stuff available.

    and noone will have to worry about incompatibilities! it's all microsoft, you know how well their stuff plays with their stuff

    wait.......

    • MS stuff can work pretty good, once they get it working at all. It is getting to the point where it works that is the problem. Here, they will be getting a system that already does work, technology-wise (not income-wise, which never was a problem for MS).

      They could possably expand a working network to do alot of the neat digital tv stuff that people have been talking about, but not actually making/getting.

      My point is that, while the problems with MS are obvious (to us), there are also some possable good things that could come from this.
  • The huge inevitable megacorp war as to who owns all the content/networks/eyeballs/mindshare/money/world is going to be
    Microsoft/Gates VS News Corp/ Murdoch.

    Mark My Words.

  • ITV Digital (Score:2, Interesting)

    by happyhippy (526970)
    is frankly crap and I dont see how M$ will benefit from it.

    ITV had already a dwindling population of subscribers and now that the bad PR of current people will not flock back.

    And the second biggest money maker (after drugs) for the UVF and IRA in Northern Ireland was too sell chipped ITV decoders.

    • Because not all of us can put a dish up, and are not in cable areas. So digital reception through the arial is the only way to get certain channels.

      It would just be, for MS, an extension of their cable set top boxes business. I could see them switching everyone over to Windows CE based hardware. Finally, I can get read of the crap box I have now that crashes every 3 days to one that crashes every 7

    • it is crap. The benefits however would probably be that by either 2005 or 2010 all UK terrestrial TV will be broadcast digitally and Microsoft will own what is currently the largest digital terrestrial broadcaster in the UK.

      Non-subscription digital boxes are supposed to be going on sale here soon and I'm sure itv digital is capable of broadcasting unscrambled signals, especially when those signals will be receieved by the x million homes without SKY in the uk.

      Well, I've just booked my plane ticket out of here anyway.
    • ... was, and still is, collecting subscriptions in the USA.
  • Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ezubaric (464724) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:51AM (#3424943) Homepage
    I wonder if Ballmer will get his own workout show. It'd be even worse than flashy animation from Japan: siezures and vomiting.
    • "I love this channel.. YEAH!"

      It astounds me that Steve Ballmer hasn't had a heart attack or somthing yet.. not that I wish the guy any ill health, but just watching the famous Steve Ballmer videos, he exhausts himself just bouncing round a stage for 30 seconds - and can barely get his breath back for almost as long.
  • Isn't gonna happen. There has to be the percentage of use, and if 90% of people haven't switched over, it won't happen.

    And I doubt many people will be using Digital Terrestrial, as unfortunately it's pathetic (Note: This is my experience after prolonged use).
  • Oh great (Score:5, Informative)

    by greg2000 (558606) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:53AM (#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.
    • NTL do some digital TV coverage too. But I think they just buy the rights of Murdoch.
    • So Now anyone in the UK who wants Digital TV is going to have to chose between Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates

      FYI, Telewest (one of the (two?) large UK cable co.'s) is 23% owned by MS already. (and guess who owns the only cable down my street....)

    • by mce (509)
      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.

      You don't really think MicroSoft (or any other big company for that matter) would buy the TV station to save the local football clubs, I hope... Big companies like that don't care at all about such things. As a matter of fact, neither do the vast majority of smaller ones.

      To let your opinion of a company be influenced by this kind of "accidental" benefit is a recipe for serious disillusionement.
    • Re:Oh great (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cally (10873)

      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....

      • > 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

        Carlton and Granada's limited exposure is because _ITV Digital_ is a limited company.

        However the football clubs have been threatening to sue Carlton and Granada anyway.
        http://www.football-league.co.uk/today/vi ew/breaki ng_news_detail/0,,10794~194119,00.html
        "The Board is clear that in such an eventuality Carlton Communications plc and Granada plc would be liable to fulfil the obligations under the contract between The Football League and ITV Digital, a company jointly and equally owned by Carlton Communications plc and Granada plc."

        http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,74 93 , 72358,00.html says "But the Football League is arguing that Granada and Carlton have a moral obligation to pay the contract, and independent media lawyers have told MediaGuardian that the moral argument may stand up in a court case." (and they've got some MP's to agree with them, or at least join in pleading:
        http://media.guardian.co.uk/city/story/ 0,7497,6859 04,00.html)

        http://spurs.blogfootball.com/stories/storyReade r$ 241 says "Shareholders in limited liability companies are normally limited (hence the name) to the amount of money they used to buy the shares, so it looks OK for Granada and Carlton.
        However there are rumours of shareholder guarantees in the football contract, i.e. for Granada & Carlton to pay the contract if ITV Digital can not, although this is where it gets really messy (if you haven't given up or fallen asleep by now), the actual signed contract does NOT appear to contain any shareholder guarantees BUT the original tender documents do."
    • Just think, a world without all the dull dull dull football matches on TV. The more football clubs going bust, the better.

      In fact. it'd be good if Sky bought all the football matches forever then we wouldn't have to have it on every channel every saturday.

    • "For those Americans Not in the Know obout our state of affairs..."

      Our Canadian cousins say "aboot." You guys say "obout." As an American, I say "about." Isn't global diversity wonderful?

    • There will be third choice rolling out nationally sometime next year. This project (www.kitv.co.uk), true Interactive DTV is
      currently only available in Kingston up Hull. It will be available nationally from some time next summer.

      It's already offer more services (DTV,VOD,Internet,Email, Fax Bridge) than the established players. Ultimately it will support any Service available over IP.
  • Microsoft and ITV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aaronsb (138360) <aaronsb@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:57AM (#3424972)
    About a week ago, Microsoft laid off about 65 employees in their TV division due a "re-organization". (including me)

    Almost all of the people who were cut were developers and technical people.

    Since the restructure, they're attempting to target the low-end middleware platform. For example the software that runs on a Motorola DCT-2000 cable box, and gives you the channel listings, and in the future VOD and purchase control.

    It makes me wonder what they're trying to accomplish by purchasing yet another small itv company in the UK when they don't make enough money to support their own engineering efforts.

    Aaron
  • by Tsugumi (553059) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:00PM (#3424982)
    ...but I can't seem to find Ctrl-Alt-Del on my remote.
    • by dackroyd (468778) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:30PM (#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.

      • For the record a lot of people have those exact same problems with their SKY Digiboxes. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of quality control in Digital TV software.
        • by Motor (104119)

          Yeah, me for instance.

          My digibox regularly locks up and refuses input until it is unplugged. It also occasionally loses the sound on a channel - but if you switch channels, and then back again... sound is back. You'd think with all the time they've had, they'd have sort this kind of crap out long ago.

          Quite apart from the all the bugs in the digibox itself; Sky Active is obnoxious and slow (unusable in fact), and there are increasing number of logos and nags (press the red button - piss off!).

          And all that for the ever-increasing price and ever decreasing quality.

      • It's not the codec it's a combination of crap decoder boxes and low transmitter power. On my box (a 1st generation philips) the picture is really good... The only thing that saeems to be a problem is things like sudden bright flashes (explosions, etc.) which send so much mpeg data at once the box can freeze for a fraction. For normal stuff (I'm watching star trek on it at the moment) it's as good as DVD.

        Having good scart cables is really essential with these things... the bog standard £5 jobbies just won't cut it.

        I agree with the other points, though... I've lost count of the number of times I've recorded 2 hours of teletext instead of dr.who.
  • Yet another reason people should just stick to a good ol' book!

    At least I don't have to have a Passp0rt just to read it!

    Yet...
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:15PM (#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?

    • if microsoft own a lot of ntl/telewest, and they take the football rights contract, it may influence more people to go with the cable operators.

      probably not enough demand for 1st division to convince people to switch over from rupert murdoch's stranglehold, but its another(?) exclusive on TW/NTL's list
      • 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.
  • It should be pretty obvious what colour their testcard [www.thbe.nu] will be
  • by crovira (10242) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:23PM (#3425062) Homepage
    Hey! Let 'em go into content production for a change.

    We know TV's already full of crap. M$ can't do any harm there. Its already down to the lowest common denominator. Let M$ go broke trying to get into HDTV. Its just a mirage as far as I can tell.

    There are still no real standards.

    The competition is already there and its dog-eat-dog.

    The margins are razor thin.

    It'd be something else they'd give up on eventually. (I haven't seen any plans for X-Box][ or X-Box ]|[. Have you? :-)

    And they'd be at the whim of their advertisers. It'd be great to see M$ pandering instead of patronizing. M$s share holders will watch the share values drop like a stone but since Bill's still richer than Creosus, he won't care and he still holds the majority so their opinion counts for squat.

    I can see it now:

    "Debby Does Redmond!"
    "M$ Where more that you system goes down!"
    "Digitized 'Chech & Chong' in:
    'Gotta Crash' "
    "MSNBC and CNet television in HDTV.
    Boredom with a 9x16 aspect ratio."

    I gave up on TV years ago. Don't even own one anymore. Waste of time. When I found yourself flipping through 50+ channels trying to see if there's anything on that caught my attention for more that a second, it was time to abandon it (I just didn't pack it a couple of ago,) and get a life.

    Maybe the world'd get usable software instead of Win-doze.
  • Oh, wonderful... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by meringuoid (568297)
    ... The country's going entirely digital in the next ten to twenty years. We now have a choice of who we'd like to run the whole TV network: 1) Bill Gates 2) Rupert Murdoch Thanks a lot. I think I'll have to stay on the net permanently now. At least the BBC's still around...
    • I AGREE!

      Personally I think the digital transmission system should be handed over to the BBC (as they used to own and run the analogue system) - I suspect they're the only organisation that could actually get people to watch it AND utilise the possibility of data display as well as video.

      They have a long history of stuff like this - they "sponsored" the BBC model computers - they transmitted computer programs over the airwaves years ago - They still seem to like teletext which is rapidly becoming obsolete AND they have a pretty good website setup too. I seem to remember multiformat computer casettes as well.

      In 2010 it could be sold off with the government keeping a "golden share". AFAIK it still has this in the analogue system.

      All you need now is a good receiver/decoder (set top box) - I'm not sure this is ready yet. Some of the STBs in the UK are DIRE!!! The Telewest Digital box should be studied by EVERYBODY doing HCI as a example of how NOT to build a user interface!!!! Slow, clunky, confusing and the remote was not designed - they simply took a load of buttons and stuck the to a brick! I'd far rather have a Gamecube than more TV.....

      L8rs!

  • My god, have we nothing better to write about than Microsoft? Looking on the front page, I see FOUR stories about Microsoft. There's gotta be something more newsworthy, even for slashdot this is bad.
  • Another article (Score:3, Informative)

    by cca93014 (466820) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:41PM (#3425116) Homepage
    from the UK Sunday The Observer can be found here [observer.co.uk]
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:50PM (#3425146) Homepage

    This is probably a non-story. There's a $250 million poisoned chalice attached to buying ITV Digital as a going concern, let alone the fact that it makes a loss ever second it's on air. That's not pocket change, even for Microsoft, and bearing in mind their internal beaurocracy, they probably won't be able to commit to taking it on in time to buy the business outright.

    Chances are, nobody else will either, and the company will fold, default on its debts, and then have its assets (i.e. its license and equipment) bought by a new bidder. Most likely (wait for it) is the current owners, who are chuckling all the way to the bank at the thought of being able to effectively just wipe all the debts and start clean. Microsoft doesn't like to get involved in bidding; they like deals to be done behind closed doors and controlled entirely by then. Actually bidding on an open market would be... unseemly.

    I think we can sleep easy. But then, I'm already a UK Telewest customer, and Microsoft's already got their finger in that pie, so I may be suffering the first signs of Infestation. Make up your own minds. ;-)

    • ... That's not pocket change, even for Microsoft ...

      When its something they want bad enough, that is pocket change. Case in point, Xbox. They're supposed to eat over $1 billion (closer to $2 billion, I think) before they break even. Basically, if the brains at Microsoft have some great way to take ITV Digital and make a great profit from it, then eating $250 million and operating losses for a little while doesn't sound all that outlandish to me.
        • When its something they want bad enough, that is pocket change. Case in point, Xbox.

        But Xbox is the perfect example of how slowly they move, and how much their culture is dominated by political infighting. Sure, $250+ million is chump change to Microsoft as a whole, but it will be an individual VP in charge of a smaller subdivision who will have to sign on the dotted line. I just don't think they will be able to organise it in time. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

  • The switch is only to digital terrestrial, and the target for 2010 is that all TVs have digital capability, so that analogue terrestrial services can be turned off. There is no obligation to subscribe to a digital service such as ntl, Sky or ITV Digital.

    Digital terrestrial includes many new non-analogue including BBC3 and BBC4.

    And as others have pointed out, ITV Digital's service is very poor. Microsoft will face a challenge bringing it up to scratch. Having said that, if any company can transform ITV Digital, it's Microsoft.

  • See http://www.pacefreetoview.co.uk/

    MS are welcome to ITV Digital!

  • Rumour has it, that Microsoft wants to get their hands on TV's existing blue screen technology - ie where something simple is superimposed onto something flash to make it _look_ like something really good is going on...
  • can you imagine on your tv this?

    'windows needs to restart your tv to let you watch
    eastenders.'

    there will be a war where ms push teletext at you
    with activex vulns and speak of skytext as like they do with unix,

    for some stupid reason there will be IIS on set top boxes, a whole new code red variant will be able to make you watch home and away while it ddos's
  • by philj (13777)
    I just like the Monkey Testcard [lineone.net]! :-)
  • another push by MS to extend into other industries? They already have MS/NBC and isn't CNBC another joint venture with NBC & GE?

    I'm no MS fan (by a long shot), but this seems like smart business to me, by moving into other industries they're not wholly dependent on software. They're already in entertainment, tried digital communications (failed satellite venture) and just introduced a gaming device (X-Box). They know they can do entertainment (look at everything they've contributed to /. stories! ;) ), so why not expand on that?

    I'm not saying they may not try to manipulate content or use another tactic, but it seems to make business sense from their past investments...

  • ITV Digital has about 1% of the market with maybe 1 million subscribers out of 60 million people in the UK and is in debt to the football association to the tune of a couple of hundred million dollars. Their set top technology has been comprehensively cracked and cracked cards are easily available.

    Not necessarily a good business to be in.

  • This should suit Microsoft fine, for most companys, 'digital' means "we can get away with bad compression quality, buggy software, controlling what the user can do, and over-pricing, and if anyone says our service is crap we just hype it up because its digital."

    But, if Bill Gates appears in an advert were Monkey takes the piss out of him, then i might get Microsoft digital (but a hacked version, im not paying for that shit)
  • I am getting very confused by Microsoft's strategies. Although they are fighting off in being seperated for being a monopoly, they keep acting blatantly as one! Are they trying to make Microsoft as big as possible before it's split, or giving the thumb to the states that are prosecuting it?
  • I saw Granada was attached to ITV there somehow - I'm not sure of the relationship there. Will we still get Coronation Street? Will it be interrupted? :(
  • There are four Microsoft Articles on the frontpage right now.
    Slashdot
    News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. And Everything Microsoft Does. EVERYTHING.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

Working...