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Tuesday 9 July 2002

BBC gets terrestrial digital licence [Lurks]

Following on from failed On Digital/ITV Digital, the licence to broadcast terrestrial digital came up for grabs. The BBC put in their bid in conjunction with Crown Castle, the guys who set up and ran all the terrestrial digital transmission infrastructure for ITV Digital. Well it looks like the BBC have won. This could have been good/bad but after having a look into it, I proclaim it as good.

You see what they're going to do is set up 24 free to air channels, obviously all of the regular terrestrial analog but also some stuff from BSkyb, presumably the Simpsons station Sky 1. I like this since I've been pretty happy with the basic channels I get on my analog cable but, bizarrely, the quality is dreadful. I can't justify lashing out for digital based on my usage and unlike some of the other boob-box fans in EED (eh Suit? :), I'm just not going to shell out for pay stations like the movie channels.

My only reservation was that I thought the quality of the service on terrestrial digital was pretty bad before. More good news there;

At the time the bids were submitted, the BBC said its offer to broadcast 24 channels would allow for better quality reception that the previous 36-channel service provided by ITV Digital.

33% better bit rate will make a noticeable difference to quality. The other operators that were vying for the licence were your typical pay-per-view media giants so you can bet they'd try to cram more stations in and half of them would be pay-per-view so many wouldn't see them anyway. If you're a boob-box fan then you need Sky, terrestrial digital ought to be television for the masses in my opinion.

Of course little of this changes the fact that I live in a valley in North London and can't get analog television. Then again, I was surprised with DAB because I'm full whack on that - so if they're transmitting from Alexandra Palace I should be sorted.

So what's the deal then, you just got to buy a box presumably? Can I buy one that isn't a Nokia? Call me odd but I prefer to have a digital box that doesn't crash because you push the channel forward button too fast.


  1. I can't agree with you more, and help clarify that this is great news for license public and for license BBC. license BBC bid [to recover/replace ITVDigital] was license only one which did not have a pay-per-view element. It's also great news in terms of license license fee - a lot of (justified) whining recently is about paying to watch UK terrestrial TV, but licensen having to pay someone else (eg. Sky, OnDigital) to get Digital Satellite or Digital Terrestrial.

  2. Well, I pay out my licence fee for the Beeb. I understand why that's there. I don't, however, think it's an issue to pay 'extra' to get satellite/digital because you're generally paying for content there. Some people want that, I don't really. However I think it's right that my licence fee should pay for digital transmission which I will get for free, because for the first time I can see these stations which I'm already paying for. (BBC Knowledge and BBC Choice)

  3. ...and CBeebies and BBC4 (Choice will become BBC3 in due course)

  4. BBC3 (Choice) is kinda the UK Gold of BBC right? CBeebies is kids stuff I assume, what's BBC4?

  5. Four website Choice - BBC3 - is actually more of a 'young persons' channel, hence Liquid News, The Kumars, 24 a week in advance... its aimed at 20-somethings as far as I can tell. BBC Four is 'a place to think' - culture, documentaries, music, that kind of thing.

  6. A terrestrial digibox has been announced for 29UKP, so that means license fee + 29 quid = On Digital without the subscription. Could be good, eh? URL: Here's a pic! Looks l33t0r....