Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Digital Age

I have touched on this before. Going digital may have some advantages to both broadcasters and viewers/listeners to television and radio. The reason being that you can be offered more choice(you can decide if that just spreads an audience more thinly and whether because the budget available(from advertisements, subscription, pay per view etc...) means that we are better off.

However, in the UK very little publicity is published(it is there for anyone who wishes to look for it)but the ordinary guy in the street who comes home at night and switches the TV or radio on to be entertained isn't going to really give the reasons why we are going digital, its happening, so whether you want it or not you are going to get it.

This may mean adapting or purchasing new equipment. For some it means getting rid of perfectly good equipment that probably still has a lot of life left in it and could've lasted years.
More importantly, the Government's Broadcasting regulatory body is proposing and will be selling off the analogue frequencies freed by "Going Digital" to other businesses and the millions of pounds this sale will raise is probably the real driving force behind the decision to make the public accept the change.

Now, the BBC as much as anyone has been given the task of promoting and informing the public of the digital age(and considering that though you can argue that the public service broadcaster in the UK has commercial interests)to all intents and purposes it is not a commercial broadcaster in the UK. They have different services and ways of financing their products and channels across the world but in those markets they are not really a public service so its perhaps understandable that they try to raise revenue by any means possible.

Another way of promoting digital broadcasting(and though I see radio as very important in broadcasting)television does drive change and is what the public thinks of first when you talk of broadcasting, it gets the largest audiences and the lion's share of revenue, whether commercial or via a licence/subscription/pay per view.

The latest thing to drive digital interest is High Definition television. Which in this country sees the picture increasing in quality as originally in the 60's our pictures were made up of 405 lines, increased to 625 lines and now with HD we're going into one thousand and something. Naturally, you need more bandwidth and a high quality signal and a decent way to receive that signal. I've seen demonstrations in retail outlets but they are playing back(usually)a specially produced promotional package or channel showing the very best. I have to say it looks fantastic. It can in some instances look as though its three dimensional.

Some people are buying the new televisions now, ready to receive these great new services that we are being promised.

But just like the selling of frequencies, what is available to present broadcasters is in danger too. As it would appear that when the television frequencies are agreed in the near future and made available I think it was assumed that the five main free to air terrestrial services supplied by the BBC, ITV, C4 And C5 would automatically have enough bandwidth to offer High Definition services. So even those who do not want Satellite or cable services could at least enjoy the quality of this new form of broadcasting.

It turns out that Ofcom have turned round and said that when the frequencies are made available(I understand broadcasters will have to bid for the space available)so in reality there is no guarantee that our traditional, free to air and somewhat protected broadcasters will find their place secure. I say broadcasters have to bid because Ofcom plans to auction the radio spectrum necessary to launch HD services on the Freeview digital terrestrial platform.

Again, as the BBC has been used to push digital broadcasting it does seem a strange decision.
What is forgotten is that in the UK once we have gone digital, to receive a television signal you have to use either a Freeview box, cable(if available)or a satellite service. Not knowing what other technology may come along in the future to deliver our TV and radio.

The idea of Freeview was that it would be a way for the public to continue to receive free to air channels but already some channels have pulled their services and decided to charge(scramble)the service but from what I understand they are not being asked to give up the frequencies to allow another broadcaster to come along and offer a service and therefore the number of channels has been reduced on the system.

So perhaps the best solution and I have a feeling this is what is driving the idea...is that the BBC in partnership with commercial broadcasters are planning on launching their own satellite delivered service to be known as Freesat. The clue is in the name. It would be an alternative to Sky which is the main satellite broadcaster here who have had things pretty much to themselves. I suspect it could be very attractive to viewers and listeners getting their programmes from basically a service that does not require a monthly subscription fee and does not go into a communications empire run by Rupert Murdoch who does divide public opinion quite strongly.

If the Freesat could also offer commercial broadcasters space on their system at a lower price for carrying their services, they may even decide to join the new "kid on the block"
If the BBC and commercial free to air broadcasters have their own Satellite system, they will at least have the bandwidth they require to give their programmes in High Definition quality.
Even respected people in the industry are unhappy with Ofcom's plans(both broadcasters)and those manufacturing the equipment required to view this new format, they include representatives of ITV, BBC, C4, C5, Sony, Toshiba, Sony, Samsung Electronics and retailers such as Comet.

Of course there will be some personal reasons for their interest, not least of all being commercially driven

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Serial Radio Callers...

Maybe, because "We" now have access to so many ways to get our views into the public domain and I'm actually doing this, I do wonder if I am any different.

Its just that, LBC(a commercial radio station)based in London, in the UK there has been discussion on a messageboard by listeners about the regularity of some some callers into the programmes on this station and I guess its true of many. The question is, if they did not call in...would anyone else? I listen but so far I have resisited the temptation to pick up the phone and luckily most the presenters on this station are so articulate they can talk for hours without any interaction from the public.

I suspect some callers become so well known, people listen out for them and some become like unpaid staff of the station. When they don't phone in, you wonder what's happened to them. Sad eh?

LBC has(or presenters have)come to an agreement with some callers, obviously they are paid or phone in for free as characters and play out a comedy role or do something to provoke "Real" callers to call in. Barry from Watford is a character played by an actor/comedian(and has his own website) Another regular who is missing these days was a man who'd appear and sing "Hey Little Hen"

I have noticed that some call in to virtually every programme and that's not over days but sometimes one programme after another, LBC has a caller called Louise from Barnsley. She has a very broad accent and is not particularly clear when she speaks. Many presenters have difficulty understanding what she says. She's seems pleasant enough but dare I say that I'm not sure that she manages to add anything of interest and it depends more on the skill of the presenter to make the call worthwhile. But we do know that she is around 18 years of age and that she is desperate to get into broadcasting and in particular radio. That she has or is attending a media course at University and has done a little bit of work experience for a little radio station based in the South but mainly heard only on satellite. The impression given is that all she was doing was answering the phone to the public and similar tasks.

She wants to be a DJ...there's a surprise. I wonder why she hasn't tried to get into Hospital Radio as a way into the business so many broadcasters have and still do. The way radio is going in the UK she could just do it.

It would appear that she is also phoning practically any station that's on air as its been noted that she was phoning into a station in Manchester the other night which isn't even available unless you live in the station's area or download a podcast/stream via the net. I suppose its filling some need within her...she's not doing any harm. Originally, I said so far I have not heard her tonight but within an hour of saying this...she was on the airwaves again. I think I can safely say she will be on again later tonight and tomorrow.

What's New...

Well, this is fun...

I have finally managed to get onto my blog and found myself having to open a google account. In all honesty I am unsure if I already had an account already and when I attempted to open my blog the password and e-mail address would not match.

So I attempted to open a new account and that would not allow me to come on here. After some messing around...It has accepted me and the only difference is one letter that proved to be case sensitive...go figure...

Well I'm back and there's a lot of catching up to do.

Not much is happening in my personal life but I can certainly make my opinions and views known on what has been happening to culture and social aspects of life in the UK...

Some of my readers(friends)may see a repeat of some things as we talk of via messageboards and e-mail but hopefully for the rest of you they'll be new.

I have views on Global Warming(I cannot claim that I have not talked about this before but things have moved on a pace. In weeks it would seem. Remember, my posts about the quiz television that has taken off on British television? That really has changed again(within weeks)and yes, we've had for years talk of whether we are all getting too fat, too thin and suffering from a lack of exercise and again things have changed within weeks.

I'd like to thin out the links I have at the side of my blog but there are many good sites out there and I like to think I am giving them some extra help in succeeding so you'll probably find a couple of extras being added.

So welcome back!