BBC takes first steps towards TV on the internet

New Zealand News

Later this month the BBC will launch a pilot project that will be the first step in a process that could lead to all television programmes being made available on the internet.

Viewers will be able to scan a guide on their computer screens and download any show they want to see. Programmes will be viewable on a computer screen, or could be burned onto a DVD to be watched through a television set.

Alternatively, they could be downloaded onto a Personal Digital Assistant.

The revolutionary plan has been drawn up by Ashley Highfield, the BBC's director of new media and technology. He revealed details of the project to The Independent last week.

"If we don't enter this market, then exactly what happened to the music industry could happen to us, where we ignore it, keep our heads in the sand and everybody starts posting the content up there and ripping us off," he said.

Mr Highfield said the quality of the programmes will be so high that the experience of watching a show on a PDA will be similar to that of viewing an in-flight film on the seatback of an aircraft.

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15 Minutes of Fame

newmediazero, Justin Pearse

The BBC has become the first broadcaster to launch in-bound MMS functionality to one of its shows.

The new nightly Johnny Vaughan vehicle Live at Johnny's, which launched on BBC3 on Monday, is integrating the use of in-bound MMS tightly into the editorial format, encouraging viewers to send in photos and images to form part of the show's content.

Brainstorm, which runs the service, is in talks with other large broadcasters and expects to launch further applications soon.

The first Live at Johnny's show on Monday used in-bound MMS to support its 'Theme of the Day' section, based around Rene Zellweger at the Baftas, encouraging viewers to send in via MMS photos of people with faces like hamsters.

'Initially we thought the use of MMS would be very difficult,' said Gregor Cameron, MD of the show's production company World's End. 'But it was incredibly successful and last night we got so many in we really stretched the system.'

'We're barely scratching the surface with MMS,' said Brainstorm CEO Craig Massey. 'We're saying to production and broadcast companies we can do anything you come up with creatively.'

Production company Endemol is also planning to introduce in-bound MMS into its shows. 'Using our audience to produce content is a dream relationship,' said head of interactive media Chris Short. 'We'll look at using in-bound for every major new show.'

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BBC On Demand

New Media Age, Jonathan Webdale, 18 Feb 2004

The BBC has confirmed that it's investigating the use of peer-to-peer file sharing for the distribution of its programmes. It follows director general Greg Dyke's announcement at the recent Edinburgh TV festival that the Corporation is planning to make its archive accessible via the Internet.

BBC new media director Ashley Highfield revealed the first details of the plans at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam over the weekend. He said the BBC was developing a 'super EPG' that would work on any platform and let users record programmes as with a PVR.

The Internet Media Player (IMP) will allow programmes to be downloaded or streamed to PC desktops and handheld devices. P2P would provide the BBC with a cost-effective mechanism for responding to the massive demand for bandwidth that would likely be prompted by the launch of IMP.

'A fully flexible, platform-neutral, super EPG is in development that will allow TV content to be recorded TiVo-style,' said Highfield. 'It'll enable shows being broadcast now to be downloaded or streamed, and most significantly [let] TV shows that went out recently to be recalled from our archive and downloaded.

'To save on the huge bandwidth load this will place on us, we're exploring legitimate P2P models to get users to share our content on our behalf transparently.'

Interesting to speculate when "huge bandwidth" might be overtaken by Moore's Law of bandwidth growth... This comes from Growth Networks Inc, now part of Cisco Systems.

Thanks to dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM), a revolution is now occurring that is enabling nearly infinite optical fiber bandwidth.

The number of wavelengths carried per fiber is doubling every year while the [switching] speed for each of these wavelengths is increasing from OC-12 to OC-48 and beyond––enabling an abundance of bandwidth at the optical fiber transport level.

Because of DWDM, optical fiber bandwidth has grown one-million fold in the 1990’s

Meanwhile semiconductor performance has followed Moore’s Law leading to electronic bandwidth growth of only one-hundred-fold in the same period.

[This mismatch is] causing a significant optical-electronic bandwidth gap.

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