Digitv.com 4 

1 March 2002 tbs.pm/1647

I have been quietly following the digital TV situation from my sofa. Whilst some things have not been a surprise, others very definitely have.

More New Channels

The number of new start-ups in terms of digital television hasn’t waned at all over the past year, even though I had expected it to.

One particular network that has shocked and surprised me is the Simply network of channels, which now totals 10 channels in all, 3 of which are not pure shopping channels.

This is quite a turnaround from their very high profile failure with Simply Money, which was a business and finance channel for ordinary people. Now they have 7 shopping channels and 3 documentary channels, Simply Nature, Simply Nostalgia and Simply Einstein. This is a most unexpected revitalisation.

They have almost literally pulled themselves up from the brink and are now making a very successful network operation here.

Dependent on just how they see themselves developing, the Simply TV network, as I will call them, are ones to watch now. They have shown themselves to be survivors and may yet prosper in this digital domain of TV.

Infection of the Infomercial

There are many good points to digital television, but infomercials are not one of them. For those of you who don’t know, Infomercials are also known as Teleshopping and Commercial Presentations, and are classed as Television Advertising.

They are 15 or 30-minute programmes, usually advertising a single product, but can advertise a range of products or offers.

There are only so many infomercials available to be broadcast, and they are repeated regularly, just like adverts, on the many channels that play these infomercials.

It’s not just a selection of shopping channels that play these; many other channels have started using infomercials as filler programming.

To my mind, the infomercial is the scourge of good television and currently the main source of disappointment in digital TV here in the UK. A friend of mine absolutely hates them and he thinks they should be banned from TV.

I would definitely like to see more original production on these digital channels, but good TV is also expensive TV. Until such time as production increases, we’ll have these infomercials around for a while to come.

Freeview launch

Well, Freeview is now with us on Digital Terrestrial and the channel choice right now is an interesting one. Sky have provided 3 channels direct from their digital platform, whilst others are offering, or will offer, exclusive channels based on their satellite offerings.

The only channel that seems completely new is UK History. Mind you, that’s not saying that the line up is awful, it could be a lot worse.

In fact, it could have been a whole bunch of shopping channels, and that would not have done Digital Terrestrial any good at all.

Still, what we have is not the best mix of channels possible, but still a good mix, plus a chance for people like me who haven’t got the opportunity to listen to DAB directly because the transmitters aren’t equipped yet to hear the newest radio stations.

Also, the digital text services are pretty good, even though as a DSAT viewer as well I find it difficult not having the extra video channels that something like BBC News Interactive or Sky News Active provides.

I hope at some point that a text version of Sky News Active, or indeed Sky Text itself, can get added to the Freeview service. But what is there is good, up to scratch and worth investing up to £100 in a small box that you can fit on your hand.

With 2 more channels known to be due for launch in January, and a few small slots left on the multiplexes, there is room for a couple of extra channels that will – just maybe – make the choice even better.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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