March 31, 2010

OFCOM - the main headlines

From MediaGuardian:
Media regulator demands that BSkyB make a 23.4% cut in price of Sky Sports 1 and 2 to rivals such as Virgin Media and BT
BSkyB must reduce the wholesale price at which it sells Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 to rivals such as Virgin Media and BT by 23.4% from the current £13.88 to £10.63 per subscriber per month. On the basis that most subscribers buy packages including the sports channels, the reduction for a bundle is 10.5% from £19.15 to £17.14.
Ofcom also said today that BSkyB is restricting the distribution of premium movie rights, with a knock-on effect for the subscription video-on-demand market, and is proposing to refer the issue to the Competition Commission.
Rivals such as BT and Virgin Media have promised to cut the prices that their users pay for Sky Sports channels, but are also concerned that BSkyB may be able to exploit loopholes in the ruling such as shifting key sports content to channels not covered by the ruling.
Ofcom said that it would counter any move by BSkyB if it tried to shift content to channels not covered by the ruling "to any material extent".
Ofcom has also said that BSkyB must offer wholesale high-definition versions of Sky Sports 1 and 2 to rivals but stopped at setting a price. Within minutes of the announcement this morning BSkyB confirmed that it would lodge an appeal with the CAT over what it regards an "unprecendented and unwarranted intervention".

OFCOM pay TV report published and disappoints on HD

And they've backed off from the strong wording of the previous draft. Here's the relevant piece from the summary on Sky Sports HD:
We have not set a price for high-definition versions of Sky Sports 1 and 2. We have accepted Sky's argument that high-definition services are a relatively recent innovation, and that pricing flexibility will help promote future innovation. We instead require Sky to offer contractual terms for supply of these channels on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.
And it doesn't look like they've pushed Sky's HD movie channels our way:
We have decided it would not be appropriate to impose a similar obligation on Sky's movies channels. We have concerns over restricted distribution of movies channels, but our main forward looking concern relates to the sale of video-on-demand rights. We cannot adequately address this concern under section 316 (which relates primarily to linear channels). Instead we believe we should make a reference to the Competition Commission under the Enterprise Act 2002, and as required by statute, we are consulting on that proposed decision.
 It's literally been published in the last few minutes. I will write more later. Not the news Virgin customers were hoping for.

March 30, 2010

US Masters on BBC HD, starting April 8th

Another BBC HD sports exclusive:
BBC Sport will have exclusive, live television coverage of Tiger Woods's return to golf at The Masters, in Augusta, Georgia – starting on 8 April. The Masters will be Woods's first competitive tournament since his self-imposed break from the game towards the end of last year ... viewers will be able to enjoy all of the coverage in High Definition through BBC HD.

This year's Grand National to be broadcast in HD

According to the BBC
Next month's Aintree Grand National meeting will be the first-ever horse racing event to be screened in High Definition by the BBC.
The three-day coverage includes the Grand National on Saturday 10 April.

March 29, 2010

NGTV upgrades this week

from Cable Forum:
Media Boy EXCLUSIVE: More areas join NGTV this week.

Tuesday March 30th:
Birmingham and Solihull (Birmingham, Sutton, Harbourne)
Croydon (Rescheduled from last week)

Wednesday March 31st:
Black Country (Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall)
Manchester (Baguley, Wilmslow, Blackburn, Rawenstall)

This list is subject to change as there may be technical reasons why areas may not get completed in time.

Off Topic: Lost - my theory

Nothing to do with HD, but after following Lost for almost six years I've finally come up with my own theory on the programme. Here goes...

Why Lost is actually about Manchester United

• Ferguson is Jacob (hence his hatred of the man in black, who may appear different each week but is the same Jacob-nemesis deep down regardless of appearance)
• Which of course means Jacob is actually the true (Red) Devil
• It’s not about time travel but about extra time travel, and the island exists only where time has been stretched beyond natural boundaries…so the island, in fact, is Old Trafford
• The story line that has gone quiet and everyone’s forgotten about? The Djemba Djemba Initiative…
• Richard, he lives forever, appears to wear eyeliner and is unnaturally hirsute…that would be Mr Giggs, surely
• The oddball Scot who nobody really rates - "Desmond" Fletcher
• The man from the East who barely speaks English - "Jin" Park
• The redhead we all thought was dead but reappears every now and again – Scholes
• The bald bloke who insists everything's fine … Sir Bobby "Locke" Charlton
• Everyone hates him, he's rarely seen but is really running the show… "Whitmore" Glazier

And the Others…

• The character who everyone (including himself) thought was going to be the mastermind but turns out to be an inadequate puppet as greater forces take control – Ben(itez)
• The mad French person who sees things no-one else does, talks nonsense, and may (or may not) be dead – Wenger
• The mysterious big bear that nobody talks about but has still to be explained – Ancelotti
• The crazy professor who eventually fails and dies – Martin O’Neill
• The pilot who keeps crashing to earth - Mancini

I’m sure there’s more but I’m busy … honest ...

March 28, 2010

New standard def channels on Virgin Media

Now available:  ITV2+1 launched on channel 116; ITV3+1 on 174; ITV4+1 on 175; Quest is on 179 and the Military History channel is on 236. No, I won't be watching any of them either...
There are a few +1s disappearing too - full details over on the Cable Forum Coming Soon board.

March 26, 2010

OFCOM report next week

Not sure of the exact day, but it'll all kick off next week apparently. Here's what Robert Peston of the BBC says about it:
The latest is the three-year pay-TV probe, which reaches an end - of sorts - next week, when the media watchdog, Ofcom, publishes its final conclusions and proposed remedies.
There have been thousands of pages of submissions to Ofcom in this enquiry, a fair number of them from the company directly threatened, British Sky Broadcasting (which was still lobbying Ofcom, with some 100 pages of detailed economic analysis, some five months after the consultation was formally closed).
And while we'll have to wait for the detail, there is no doubt (based on what Ofcom has already published) that Ofcom's recommendations will send British Sky Broadcasting into paroxysms of fury.
Ofcom believes that BSkyB has "market power" in the supply of channels containing live sport and first-run Hollywood movies to competitors such as Virgin and BT.
The regulator has already concluded - in its preliminary verdict published last summer - that the way BSkyB exploits this market power restricts the choice of "channels and platforms" available to consumers and may be a deterrent to the development of "new platforms".Or to put this in English, it believes that BSkyB has an unfair hold on the supply of movies and sport, that this gives it an unfair advantage in the battle to flog not just TV but broadband and telecoms too, and that rivals therefore must be allowed to re-sell BSkyB's sport and movies at a "reasonable" price (whatever that may be).
So BSkyB will be forced to sell rival broadcasters access to its films and sport - in normal and high definition format - at keener prices than it does today.
Going to be an interesting week, even for those of us not getting all of the new HD channels on April 1st...

HD movies over the Easter weekend

ITV1 HD arrives with a bang (or should that be a growl?) on Good Friday evening with Peter Jackson's King Kong at 10.15pm. Still very little HD content on the channel though.
Over the Easter weekend 4HD has the inferior (but still fun) 21st century version of The Italian Job on Saturday at 9.05pm, followed by Pan's Labyrinth at 11.15pm and One Hour Photo at 1.25am.Sunday at 5.35pm is Eragon.
Not a stunning line up for movie fans. Filmflex meanwhile has 40 films in HD for under a fiver, including the Oscar-laden The Hurt Locker which I watched a few weeks back. It's a great film, but I don't think it's a great example of HD - the Filmflex version looked grainy to me.

March 25, 2010

TiVo Premier reviews

We don't yet know how much of TiVo's new Flash-based user interface will make it to the Virgin Media version launching later this year, but here are two interesting reviews from the US press on the TiVo Premier XL.
Endgadget (thanks, Hew) and Wired.

March 24, 2010

Freesat tops 1m, but where's the HD?

According to MediaGuardian, Freesat now has 1m customers
Freesat has claimed it is winning over BSkyB customers – with almost 400,000 defecting to date – and Ofcom's pay-TV review is expected to provide an additional surge in new signings for the fledgling digital satellite TV service.The joint venture between the BBC and ITV announced today that it has passed 1 million customers. The company, which provides a free-to-air alternative to Sky's pay-TV digital satellite service, claimed that 40% of Freesat customers are former Sky subscribers.
Originally seen as a genuine HD alternative to Sky, especially with ITV HD as an exclusive via the red button, the service for HD customers has stalled somewhat of late. It still has only BBC HD and ITV1 HD, there's no word on the arrival of 4HD, E4 HD, Film4 HD or Five HD, and the quality of the BBC HD service has reportedly deteriorated dramatically. Early press releases cited HD as the main reason for people adopting the service, but these days Freeview HD is looking a better option for those not looking to pay a monthly sub for their TV but wanting a few HD channels.

March 23, 2010

NGTV areas this week

Media Boy EXCLUSIVE: Joining NGTV this week.
(Thanks to Media Boy for the information in a comment to a previous post):
The following area will join NGTV (and be ready for additional HD channels on April 1) this week -
March 23rd:
Manchester (Stretford, Withington, Rochdale, Oldham.)
March 24th:
March 25th:
Manchester (Birkenhead, Bromborough, Salford, Wardley.)
By my count that leaves a couple of dozen still to go. At this rate they should be done by mid-May, but I'm assuming there that each area involves the same amount of work. Upgrades are mid-week (Tues-Thurs) but there may be a slowdown either side of Easter. Dunno. There's now a dedicated Cable Forum Thread on the NGTV upgrade.
Incidentally, there's a placeholder for ITV1 HD for all area in England and Wales now on channel 113.

Tivo and Virgin at Ideal Home

Speaking at the Ideal Home Show at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre in London Virgin Media has gone into a little more detail of what we can expect from the forthcoming Tivo partnership:
Virgin has confirmed that the platform will be based on Adobe Flash and geared to act as a "canvas for future services", such as widgets and advanced social networking, integrating content from multiple sources and providing the recommendation engines the platform has pioneed stateside.
Virgin Media is also working with Tivo on  'TV anywhere' delivery, which will enable users to switch their viewing experience between platforms, where you can start watching something on one set then pick it up on another, or on a PC or a mobile. Sounds interesting.
Digital Spy has a fuller report on Virgin at Earl's Court.

March 22, 2010

Virgin Media will offer 3D via On Demand

Virgin has confirmed plans to start offering 3D content via the on-demand platform rather than launching a static channel.
If this has set your pulse racing, find out more over on Digital Spy

March 21, 2010

OFCOM decision on pay TV this week?

For a public body, OFCOM is pretty secretive about when it will publish its final report on Pay TV. Long-term visitors to this blog will know that this report is the one that could signal the arrival of Sky's movie and sports channels on Virgin Media (and other, non-Sky platforms such as BT Vision). Here's what the last draft of the report said:
9.19    Our competition concern relates to the supply of all Sky’s Core Premium Sports and Movie channels and we therefore propose that a wholesale must-offer should apply to: Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports HD, Sky Sports 2, and Sky Sports 2 HD. All of Sky’s premium movie channels apart from Sky Movies Classics.These are Sky Movies Action & Thriller, Sky Movies Action & Thriller HD, Sky Movies Comedy, Sky Movies Comedy HD, Sky Movies Drama, Sky Movies Drama HD, Sky Movies Family, Sky Movies Family HD, Sky Movies Premiere, Sky Movies Premiere HD, Sky Movies Premiere+1, Sky Movies SciFi & Horror, Sky Movies SciFi & Horror, Sky Movies Screen 1, Sky Movies Screen 1 HD, Sky Movies Screen 2, Sky Movies Screen 2 HD, Sky Movies Modern Greats, Sky Movies Modern Greats HD, Sky Movies Indie and Disney Cinemagic and the HD versions of these channels
Now that would be something, albeit most likely at a monthly premium.
The final report is due this month and, as we're now in the last week of March, could arrive any day now. 

What I really, really want an option to upgrade my V+ to one with a larger disc capacity. I recorded The Departed last night off of 4HD and that's 12 hours of my 80 gone. This will only get worse when our HD channels increase over the coming weeks. Surely there's a simple solution? Make the new Samsung V+, with a larger disc, an  upgrade for customers for a one-off fee. They've made the new Cisco HD V box an option, so why not a Samsung V+ with 1tb for £99? Sky are charging for their new box with the greater capacity, why can't Virgin do similar? Very little work, new monies in, assists a future move to Mpeg4, makes the premium paying customers feel loved....simples.

March 20, 2010

Areas that will get the new HD channels in April

Check out Media Boy's listing on Cable Forum to see if your area has upgraded to NGTV (required for the extra HD channels).
Another way to check is to check channel 937 - if it's Radio London 94.9, you on NGTV, if it ain't, you may have to wait a little longer the additional HD line up.
Me? Looks like I'm going to have to wait - I think I'm Lewisham head end :o(

March 19, 2010

New HD channels will not be available to all immediately

From the Virgin site:
When will I get the new channels?
We’ll be launching Discovery HD, Eurosport HD, E4 HD and SyFy HD on 1st April. Not everyone will get access to these new channels straight away as we are carrying out some technical upgrades to our platform and there’ll be a few areas where we’ll be staggering the rollout. But don’t worry – we’ll be rolling them out as quickly as we can, and we should be all done by the beginning of June.
On Friday 2nd April we’ll also be launching ITV1 HD, which will be available in all ITV areas (this does not include Scotland and Northern Ireland). ITV1 HD will not be available in Scotland or Northern Ireland because it’s an ITV1 service, not an STV or UTV service. ITV is awaiting confirmation of STV and UTV’s plans with regards to the provision of HD services in the STV and UTV regions.
Not long after we'll be launching Film4 HD – keep an eye out here for announcements.
(Thanks Erich)

March 18, 2010

BBC HD blog has a new home

Danielle Nagler has written a new post about programmes on BBC HD this Easter. Needless to say, the comments have quickly picked up the debate about the picture quality on satellite again. Read the post at BBC TV Blogs

March 17, 2010

Five HD launching on Sky in July

Just days after Freeview said that Five HD wasn't coming soon to the platform, Sky and Five have announced it will be on Sky this summer:
Five and Sky today announced the launch this summer of Five HD, a high definition version (HD) of Five  which will show programming that has been made in HD. Five HD will start broadcasting to more than 2 million Sky HD homes in July.
It's not been announced as exclusive to Sky though, so it's likely to appear on Virgin Media too. Interesting that Sky are offering it without requiring customers to subscribe to the monthly £10 HD supplement - I can see that disappearing (or maybe just remaining for the Sports and Movies channels) soon, especially as Virgin have upped the stakes on what's available for nowt.

March 16, 2010

New HD set-top box and new channels make HD more accessible with Virgin Media

Another day, another Virgin press release on HD: 
Virgin Media , the UK's leading digital entertainment company, is to make HD TV more affordable by ensuring customers do not need to pay extra for stunning High Definition. So far this year Virgin Media has announced the addition of six new HD channels with more to come. Consumers will soon be able to make the most of this growing line-up with a new HD set-top box - the V HD Box - which will be available for no additional monthly subscription fee.
New and existing TV customers can get the new V HD Box from March 22nd for a one-off cost of just £49 plus installation*. There are no extra on-going subscription fees.
Virgin Media has already revealed that HD channels from ITV, Eurosport, Discovery, SCI FI, E4 and Film4 will all be added to its TV service later this year. HD channels from the BBC and Channel 4 are currently available to all Virgin TV customers. Subscribers to Virgin Media's 'XL' TV package can also watch Premier League football and more top sport on ESPN HD, become captivated by compelling documentaries on National Geographic HD and be entertained by FX HD, MTV Networks HD and LIVING HD (a Virgin Media exclusive).
This increasing range of HD channels is also complemented by an extensive on demand library with thousands of hours of programmes, including hundreds in spectacular HD. Recent blockbusters such as Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek or The Hurt Locker, as well as films exclusive to Virgin TV such as Ché, are available alongside TV hit series including True Blood and Carnivàle, all in HD and ready to start at the press of a button.
The Cisco-made box is 3D-ready and includes HDMI, SCART, USB and Ethernet ports to make the most of any digital home cinema experience. Featuring a best-in-class power saving function which dramatically cuts power usage by approximately 95% compared to stand-by mode, the V HD Box can also help minimise customers' electricity bills.
The V HD Box adds to Virgin Media's existing choice of the V Box, for basic digital TV, and the V+ HD Box which incorporates HD capability with a Personal Video Recorder. Virgin Media retains ownership of its set-top boxes so customers do not need to pay for warranties and, should anything go wrong, do not face expensive call-out charges or replacement or repair fees.
Virgin Media's executive director of digital entertainment, Cindy Rose, said: "We want to make the best High Definition TV available to more people at affordable prices and without the additional monthly subscription fee. If you really love telly you'll probably want our V+HD box because then you can then record programmes on up to two channels while simultaneously watching another. Our new V HD Box is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the power of HD without the extra monthly fee. We think our superb range of TV content gives our customers a real choice and makes Virgin Media the best value TV offering available."
Customers can pre-register for the V HD Box and find out more about Virgin Media's HD products and services at:

Films on 4HD this weekend [updated]

Last week's line up was somewhat low brow, but this week's promises something for most. A Leo DiCaprio double bill on Saturday evening: 7pm Titanic, 10.35pm The Departed. Sunday evening at 10.05 has the excellent Road To Perdition (Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law).
I watched 4HD's Saving Private Ryan at the weekend. Stunning picture quality. A shame that it took up almost 16 hours of my V+. Anyone planning to record Titanic will need a similar amount spare, maybe even a little more. Come on Virgin, offer us some larger disc capacity if you're serious about HD and don't want folk trying some DIY upgrades on their boxes.

Update: and the following weekend has Walk The Line and Rendition on the Saturday and 28 Weeks Later on the Sunday.

March 15, 2010

Five fails to secure Freeview HD capacity

Don't hold your breath waiting for Five HD on any platform. From OFCOM:
Ofcom has today published its final decision on the reservation of capacity on Multiplex B for an additional High Definition (HD) service on Digital Terrestrial TV. 
In June 2009, Ofcom made a provisional decision to reserve a HD slot for Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd to provide new services on Freeview from 2010. This decision was subject to it resolving certain key criteria by the end of 2009.
Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd has not been able to resolve these outstanding issues. The only other applicants, Channel 4 and S4C, were unable to provide Ofcom with confirmation of their ability to launch a service within a defined timescale. Ofcom has therefore decided not to reserve capacity for either of the applicants at this time.
Any capacity within Multiplex B that is not reserved by Ofcom is available for the BBC to use. The BBC will now consider options to ensure the capacity can be used to provide High Definition services that will further benefit viewers of digital terrestrial television. This brings forward by around two years the date when it was anticipated that further capacity on Multiplex B would revert to the control of the BBC Trust.

SciFi / Syfy HD confirmed

From the VM press release:
Virgin Media, the UK's leading digital entertainment company, has signed an agreement with Universal Networks International to make the SCI FI channel available to its digital TV customers in High Definition. Launching on Virgin TV in advance of its anticipated rebrand to Syfy HD on 13th April, the channel will show some of the best imagination-based entertainment every day, including the forthcoming, much-talked-about UK premiere of V, a re-imagining of the 1983 ground-breaking invasion mini-series.
In addition, the high-octane, action-packed drama Human Target will also make its UK television debut in April, taking its place alongside SCI FI favourites Legend Of The Seeker, Sanctuary and the classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
This is Virgin Media's sixth new HD channel announced this year with more to come. Virgin Media's growing HD line-up already covers a wide variety of entertainment, including films, documentaries, sport, drama and music, with channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 available to all Virgin TV customers, as well as ESPN, FX, MTV Networks, National Geographic, LIVING (a Virgin Media exclusive) and the forthcoming Eurosport, Discovery, E4 and Film4 (another Virgin Media exclusive) HD channels all available for no additional monthly fee to 'XL' TV customers.

March 14, 2010

Sci Fi HD launching on Virgin Media, April 1st

According to a post over on Cable Forum Sci Fi HD is launching on Virgin on April 1st, along with E4 HD (channel 145), Discovery HD (214) and Eurosport HD (522). ITV1 HD arrives the next day on channel 113. (Or will it be "Syfy HD" by then?)

When this happens I think we should toast Mr Berkett and co - this time last year we were still moaning about just the single HD channel on cable. How things have changed.

March 12, 2010

ITV HD joining Virgin Media on April 2nd

Breaking news - here's the full Press Release:
ITV1 HD comes to Virgin Media in AprilAdds to growing HD channel line-up from Virgin Media
LONDON, Mar 12, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Virgin Media's (NASDAQ:VMED)(LSE:VMED) digital TV customers will be able to enjoy football's World Cup in full High Definition (HD) glory as the ITV1 HD channel joins the company's TV line-up on April 2nd. ITV1 HD will offer a range of High Definition programming, with upcoming highlights including the UEFA Champions League, The FA Cup, and England internationals; HD dramas including Father & Son, Identity, The Prisoner, Foyles War and Lewis; factual programming including Joanna Lumley's Nile, Greatest Cities of the World with Griff Rhys Jones, and the brand new Survival with Ray Mears. In entertainment there are new programmes, The Whole 19 Yards and 71 Degrees North, and the return of Soccer Aid and the UK's biggest TV show, Britain's Got Talent.
Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: "ITV offers some of the UK's most loved programmes and we're delighted to add them to our growing HD channel line-up. This year's World Cup promises some unforgettable games and Virgin Media TV viewers will be able to enjoy every nail-biting, heart-stopping, breath-taking moment in stunning High Definition."
Virgin Media's TV customers will be able to watch all of this summer's football World Cup in HD with all matches shown on ITV1 HD or the BBC's HD channel. Both channels are available on Virgin Media's digital TV platform and included in all of Virgin Media's TV packages at no extra cost.
Peter Fincham, ITV Director of Television, Channels and Online, said: "The availability of High Definition content is something viewers have come to expect as standard and, as we approach the 2010 World Cup, I'm delighted that we are able to launch our new channel, ITV1 HD, on Virgin Media. All of our output will benefit from the stunning picture quality that High Definition offers, whether it's ITV's original drama, landmark factual shows, entertainment events or our live football."
Some of ITV1's HD content will also be available on demand via ITV Net Player on Virgin Media's TV platform. The popular TV on demand service saw over eight million views of ITV content in January alone.
Virgin Media continues to grow its HD line-up with HD channels from the BBC and Channel 4 available to all Virgin TV customers, while those from ESPN, FX, MTV Networks, National Geographic and LIVING (a Virgin Media exclusive) are included within the 'XL' TV package for no extra charge. Forthcoming HD channels from Eurosport, Discovery and E4 will be added to the 'XL' tier this spring, while Film4 HD (another Virgin Media exclusive) will be made available within all paid-for TV tiers.
This is the fifth new HD channel Virgin Media has announced this year and the company plans to reveal more details about further launches in the coming months.
As a postscript to this, BSkyB said today that as well as ITV1 HD there would also be high-definition channel launches for Hallmark and Sky Sports 4 on its digital satellite service. Sky has now passed 40 channels in HD on its service and has targeted 50 by Christmas.
Hallmark Channel HD, which will launch on 28 June, Sky Sports HD 4 will launch on 29 April. I'm struggling to see what other UK channels can go HD for Sky to hit 50. More4, BBC channels proper, Five...there isn't that much HD content to go around.

March 11, 2010

Twelve things to expect from Virgin Media Tivo

Interesting article on regarding what is anticipated with the arrival of the Tivo-enhanced Virgin Media Next Generation technology. I recommend you read the full article for more insight; here are the 12 headliners they foresee

1. Recommendation and automatic record engine 
2. 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon  
3. Context specific recommendations 
4. Collections
5. Three tuners
6. HD for all  
7. Enhanced search 
8. Curation 
9. Internet content 
10. More graphics, less text
11. Networked multi-room 
12. Mobile content 
Much of this is highly speculative, but the TechRadar team are well -informed and if we only get to see half of those features we'll still be excited little bunnies, one and all.     

March 10, 2010

3D TV sets hit the high street

Samsung, Panasonic and Sony are all eager for the early adopter's cash, according to this report on MediaGuardian. Can't get excited about it myself - I've seen the Sky 3D demo and endured Avatar in 3D and remain unconvinced. £2000 for a 40in TV? Crazy.
UPDATE: here's a short video item on the Samsung from What Hi-Fi

March 08, 2010

The OFCOM review: an overview

The OFCOM final review on pay TV services: just like Spring, it's due this month but nobody seems quite sure when!
There's a good summary of what's been reviewed and it's likely impact on MediaGuardian. What it fails to mention is that the last draft of the paper stipulated the at high definition versions of Sky Movies and Sky Sports channels should be available to non-Sky platforms too. Fingers crossed.

Film4 HD to launch exclusively on Virgin Media

It would be good to have an actual date rather than a season...mind you, judging from last summer it only lasts for 24 hours anyway, albeit nobody knows which particular day summer will fall on in advance! Best news this year, and E4 HD too. Here's the full press release.

Film4 HD to launch exclusively on Virgin Media
  • High Definition films from Film4 for the very first time
  • E4 HD and Film4 HD join Virgin Media’s growing HD channel line-up
Virgin Media today announced the upcoming launch of Film4 HD and E4 HD on its digital TV platform. Virgin Media’s digital TV customers will be the first to watch Film4 in glorious High Definition (HD) as the channel launches exclusively on Virgin Media this summer.
Film4 HD will offer a daily line-up of fantastic movies. The channel will showcase the very best of British film-making, including Slumdog Millionaire, Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky and Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric, as well as US independent films, Hollywood blockbusters, mainstream drama and comedy, foreign films and cult cinema alongside special features, in-depth interviews and exclusive programming, Film4 is the UK’s favourite film channel.
E4 HD offers hugely popular programmes including Glee, Skins and Hollyoaks in HD and simulcasts the E4 schedule. Alongside a choice of Channel 4 commissioned programmes, E4 HD also offers a range of films and well known US series including Desperate Housewives, 90210, and Ugly Betty in HD. E4 HD is expected to launch on Virgin Media in April.
Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “Channel 4 has a great track record in delivering innovative and compelling content and we’re delighted to bring some of their very best films and most popular programmes to our customers in stunning HD. As more and more households become HD-ready, we’re lining up content that makes the most of High Definition and are making HD available to all our of customers for no extra fee.”
Sarah Rose, Head of VoD and Channel Development at, Channel 4, said, “We’re really excited to be launching Film4 HD and showcasing some fantastic British films to millions of viewers in High Definition. There’s a growing appetite for HD and our line up of C4HD, E4HD and, now, Film4HD provides a great choice of HD content for viewers.”
E4HD and Film4HD join Virgin Media’s growing HD line-up of C4HD, BBC HD, ESPN HD, FX HD, MTVN HD, National Geographic HD, LIVING HD (a Virgin Media exclusive) and the forthcoming Discovery HD and Eurosport HD channels.
So far this year, Virgin Media has announced four new HD channels and the company plans to reveal more details about further launches in the coming months.

March 06, 2010

In The Loop on BBC HD, Sunday 10pm

From the team behind The Thick Of It, last year's best funniest movie gets an early non-Sky debut.

March 05, 2010

Off topic: ads on this blog

You may have noticed that I've reintroduced ads on this site. I removed them before when I noticed that pirate cable boxes were being promoted via AdSense. I'm told that this should not happen now but if anyone spots them, please let me know and I'll take action. Thanks.

Neil Berkett reveals Tivo on Virgin Media boxes this Autumn

Virgin Media Chief Executive Neil Berkett has confirmed that TiVo software will be in Virgin Media set-top boxes this autumn. “We will be launching TiVo at the end of the year and we will have TiVo inside our set-top boxes across all of our customers. We believe TiVo will supply the best user experience, Flash-based, and creating a new gateway to the digital world, so no longer will we think about ‘I’m in a walled garden’ or ‘I’m not in a walled garden’. What you don’t want to do is confuse customers, if they can get it, they should be able to get it. Being able to search for a particular style of programme or being able to search for a particular actor and being presented with your options whether they are linear, video-on-demand or over-the-top will become irrelevant”.
More information on

March 04, 2010

More on Tivo's new technology

For more on "a tantalizing glimpse at what Virgin Media will be rolling out in the UK for its subscribers" check out this story on the Home Cinema Choice site.

New Tivo hardware

No guarantees that this will arrive in the UK, but that's a pretty neat looking piece of kit. More details at Endgadget HD and an interesting read on why the BSkyB/Tivo partnership failed at TechRadar

March 03, 2010

Tivo unveils new interface

Is this what Virgin's "Next Generation TV" will look like?

More pictures on Endgadget HD

ITV HD and Sky1 HD coming soon to Virgin Media?

Interesting comment posted by Big Red to this blog yesterday:
I caught up with my friend who works in one of VM area headoffices.
Virgin have issued a internal newletter recently stating that ITV HD and SKY 1 HD will be coming to the VM HD line up.
As most of us know from 1st April the xl tv package is increased by £1.50.
I can confirm that with Discovery/EuroSports HD coming on board from April there will be no extra HD fee for any channels added from 1st April for atleast a year - (Note this does not include Sky's Premium Sports and Movies HD channels) - the £1.50 fee also included some new channel line ups
It also stated that Discovery, EuroSport. ITV and Sky HD channels are just a start to get VM to its 20+ HD line up.
I did ask if a copy could be issued so I can scan and post but VM have blocked all Forward/Print methods.
It also states that there is no dates set in stone but agreements have being made that these will be become available.
Official press releases will be issued during Mar & Apr.
It also goes on that VM expects Ofcom to conclude its probe into Sky's premium sports and movies wholesale prices this month allowing VM to buy these products at a cheaper price.
Chief executive Neil Berkett also stated that any saving would be passed back onto VM customers. - this would be from this summer (VM buy in seasons) 
I can't vouch for the accuracy of Big Red's source, but it's big news if Sky1 HD and ITV1 HD are really "coming soon". I don't think we will get Sky1 HD for nowt whilst Sky customers still have to pay £10 a month to get it - maybe there will be a "Sky HD" bundle on Virgin with the movies, sports and Sky1 for a monthly fee?