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back to article Nordic region, Ireland adopt new 'connected telly' standard

Nordig, the parent broadcasting organisation for the Nordic countries, plus Ireland, has issued a new specification for broadcasting. It has dropped MHP as its interactive primary broadcasting protocol and adopting Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV). The standard is already taking off in Germany, France, the Netherlands and …

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Flame

TV

This reminds me of the heated discussions about the various standards for digital TV many years ago. Someone wrote in Electronics times, that they were not that bothered about the technology involved, but more about the content. Now 20 years later, he was so right. So many channels of mind numbing shite. For this Luddite, I'd go back to 3 channels, no Daytime TV, and switch off at midnight. Quality content is what I want. Whilst the channels pour out continual drivel aimed at Vicky Pollard types, my TV will remain off, and sat in the garage. Next stop, no TV License.

btw I prefer to see articles written by the Reg, and not some consultancy agency paid by?

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Re: TV

I prefer to see articles written by the Reg, and not some consultancy agency paid by?

The Out-Law writen articles are usualy fairly good, The Government Computing ones are often OK. But this article read more like a press-release than an El Reg article.

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Re: TV

I would have agreed that the out law articles are good, except, in every case where I've had a reasonable insight into what outlaw have been writing, they've been shambolical, this leaves me to wonder about the quality of the rest.

And yes, this article seemed light on content and large on pushing a point of view.

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Re: TV

The Out-Law stuff is crap. It's a small number of facts on a theme, with no insight, opinion, analysis. It's pap just like on every tedious law firm's tedious website.

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The point of this article was

So a TV standard is being used in Europe and not the UK - any thought as to the article perhaps giving us analysis, opinion, thoughts on what might happen with regards punters? In other words, what we expect from El Reg. This was just a factual statement padded out.

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Meh

Re: The point of this article was

The usual I'd expect. Custom firmware, fewer models, higher prices...

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Stop

Re: The point of this article was

"The usual I'd expect. Custom firmware, fewer models, higher prices..."

Hold your horses. As someone who's just been bitten by this, I disagree. I bought a Panasonic MDR-BWT700 twin tuner recorder, Bluray burner to go with my Panny Plasma TV. It was reviewed on El Reg HERE, and it is quite good.

However, Panasonic don't tell you that there are different versions of it with the same basic model number, and most places (including the Panny websites) don't tell you the whole model number. Bought it in the UK from Amazon for £339 only to find out that the UK version doesn't receive channel 69, which is needed in Spain (all other digital TVs & receivers from the UK seem to receive channel 69 OK though). The Spanish version which is the same unit except a 250G HDD instead of 320G HDD and slightly different firmware, allowing you to receive channel 69, will set you back €700. (No they won't let you change the firmware)

Go on, tell us again how disadvantaged the UK is.

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WTF?

Re: The point of this article was

Tell me about it, I live in Germany and the cost of software in the UK makes me envious!

For example, Adobe Creative Suite is about 30% more expensive in mainland Europe than in the UK... That said, it is still cheaper to fly to the states, stay in a 4 star hotel, eat an evening meal and buy a boxed copy, before flying back... In the UK, I'd have to slum it in a 3 star hotel! :-D

Also, due to the crashing pound, the UK has overtaken Czech and points East as the budget shopping destination! :-S

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Paris Hilton

Re: The point of this article was

channel 69

Fnarrr Fnarrrr

Paris, who else?

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Paris Hilton

Re: The point of this article was

I'm always up for a bit of Paris mate! Coorrrrrrrr!

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Web

I see in keeping with the Nordic traditions, Opera is the browser of choice for HbbTV.

As an Irish citizen, I wonder what it means for Irish consumers as most of our electronic devices are sold by UK retailers (the local Sony Center's only closed last week after Dixons Retail drove them into the ground). The Irish Digital TV service only started last year, SaorView, and is only compatable with Freeview HD devices (i.e. we only broadcast MP4 not MPEG2)

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Re: Web

Going offtopic here a bit regarding UK retailers.

In the North, I've seen them selling some useless items here.

Like Mole repellant (no moles in Ireland's domestic wildlife - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7335006.stm )

And green 'P' plates (NI uses an 'R' plate system for new drivers)

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Boffin

Re: Web

the local Sony Center's only closed last week

Peat's owned a couple of them, and I think it was online sellers that screwed them.

Ahhhhhhh Peats, where I first said "Can I have 4.7 uF electrolytic capacitor please", those were the days of real electronics.....

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IT Angle

I almost feel like saying.... [and @Derk]

.... so ?

The UK will be isolated. Isolated from What, watching telly in the same [technical] way as continental europe ? And Ireland and the Scadics [and the Netherlands and Belgium?] will stop buying BBC telly becuase the 'standards' are different ?

Nope, of course now.

Tend to agree with Derk that quality content is much more important than reducing manufactiuring costs by small fractions for Asian and Chinese sweat shop factories.

Could it be that perhaps, the uK might make some tellies of it's own, to watch our content on whatever standard we choose ??????

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So what's new?

For years now in analogue broadcasting we've had competing standards - the UK used PAL, the French used SECAM, the USofA used NTSC...

No doubt the seasoned wireheads will say that digital is different, but, you know, as long as it works...

Personally, I'm with Derk at the top - I don't need or want 3000000 channels of shit, give me back 3 (or maybe 4) channels of good content.

And maybe a few dedicated sports channels so I can ignore them.

I cancelled my cable subscription 4 years ago, I don't have an aerial or a dish - I make do with a relatively slow broadband connection, and I don't think I'm missing anything.

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Happy

Re: So what's new?

NTSC=Never The Same Colour

SECAM=System Contrary to American Method

PAL=Perfect At Last

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So what's new?

It's

System Essentially Contrary to American Method.

(you do need the "E" there)

And I've heard it as:

Peace At Last.

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Re: So what's new?

I heard that US engineers used 'Picture Always Lousy'.

Seems the American grasp on reality has been quite loose for a long time.

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Path dependence

HbbTV is based on MHP, which is a Java-based system. Freeview uses the MHEG-5 object-description language with the UK Profile of objects that the receiver must implement. Switching Freeview to use HbbTV would have to completely duplicate everything already carried in MHEG, which would reduce the amount of space for TV channels. A couple of years ago, the Digital TV Group (which writes the specification for UK receivers) added an extension to the UK Profile called MHEG-IC (Interaction Channel), which defines how the receiver can locate IPTV services.

Saorview receivers must implement MHEG as well as legacy teletext, as well as everything in NorDig specs. Freeview receivers are not required to implement legacy teletext, which is not carried in UK broadcasts.

All Freeview-branded equipment is required to implement MHEG and UK Profile, and I believe any box with an Ethernet port is required to implement MHEG-IC. Freeview HD boxes already implement the features, with several virtual channels (i.e. where the broadcast only contains metadata pointing to the IPTV service) having already launched. Compatibility is a problem though - see http://www.visiontvnetwork.co.uk/home/devices for a list of compatible devices.

YouView is an attempt to fix the compatibility problem. Freeview manufacturers can and do develop their own software stacks, but that means that anyone wanting to provide a catch-up service, rather than just live streams, has to develop a different app for each different TV or box. Even trying to use a web app often fails, because each TV's firmware contains a different version of the web browser. YouView is trying to standardise what the stack is, somewhat like Android, to ensure that an app will run on any YouView box. YouView will be providing substantial parts of that stack. I believe the delays have been in developing that stack and getting receiver manufacturers to integrate it - the final core specification for launch was finished over a year ago.

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Stop

Re: Path dependence

HbbTV is absolutely not based on MHP; there's no Java VM in sight. It's an XHTML+JS+CSS sort of environment (I've done a lot of software development work in this field).

http://www.hbbtv.org/pages/about_hbbtv/specification.php

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A one word argument in favour of multi-channel TV

CBeebies

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We need to distinguish between broadcast and IPTV.

Freeview TV uses MHEG and will continue to do so, so TV suppliers are going to have to continue to deliver that to the UK, YouView or no YouView. Freesat has alread indicated that the second generation "G2" specification for Freesat receivers will use HbbTV - so it's not a case of the UK being isolated - so TV suppliers are also going to have to provide HbbTV to the UK market. And of course the countries that have deployed MHP aren't going to get rid of it immediately That looks pretty much like a platform will cover Europe (and Australasia) provided it supports MHEG, MHP and HbbTV in different combinations for different countries.

YouView (the platform) is a particular implementation of an IPTV content delivery platform and in addition to MHEG will have to support HbbTV if it ever comes in a satellite version. It's not that YouView won't support common technical standards, it's that it layers another set of standards on top of them to deliver what are effectively "apps" that can only be written by approved vendors.

That's where YouView's ambitions fall down, as far as I can see - there simply won't be the market share to deliver the apps that would make the further layer of complexity worthwhile.

So the UK definitiely *is* getting HbbTV in the next generation of Freesat. Whether it ever gets YouView - and if so, for how long before the technology disappears and it's just a brandname for catch-up TV delivered by other means - remains to be seen.

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Storm in a teacup

I think the BBC's services are so much more advanced than what's on offer here in Germany.

I've got a lovely Philips 6806, which apart from apparently struggling to maintain a wireless connection (Philips say it's the router's fault for IPMG-Snooping, I'm not convinced), has a fantastic picture. Unlike all the digi-boxes I've used in the UK the additional functions were not available from the word go. I had to activate Hbb manually and it behaves differently if there is a network connection around when it generally takes longer to load and looks a bit shitty. Indeed many channels don't seem to support non-network based interactivity: press the red button and get nothing. Personally, I prefer the idea of side-loading the TV programme onto the TV without a network connection to loading a castrated version of the broadcaster's website. This is probably why I have never once seen a promotion of "press the red button to find out more" since digital TV has been available.

In summary, whatever it is that the BBC uses is infinitely more usable than what we have on the continent. However, if it is to be some kind technological dead end, then it's probably going to go into maintenance. But unless Hbb gets dramatically better it's not going anywhere either.

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If the UK is out on a limb

does than mean Sky will be able to charge an arm and a leg and we wont be able to get equipment from abroad to sidestep them?

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Paris Hilton

At least MHEG works

As far as I can tell, the UK is the only country with a functioning digital teletext service - all that "press the red button" malarky is an MHEG 5 application. The most that's been done with MHP in Europe is to run bloody MHP web browsers, with no vidoe interaction.

I remember being bollocked back in the late 90s by some scandi dude unhappy with my company's support of MHEG - looks like we got it right!

-Mook

(Paris, 'cos I'd like to push her red button)

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Re: At least MHEG works

Ireland uses the UK Profile of MHEG5 for Saorview. No MHP. It does work too, on RTE1 & RTE2 and used to do screens on RTEjr <->RTE1+ timeshare.

ALL TVs with CI+ in all of Europe already do MHEG5

Saorview doesn't yet include MHEG-IC or HbbTV

The "biggest" interactive potential is "quizzes". But these only exist to get folk to use the premium number and raise cash. So unless there is a transparent micropayment, then HbbTV is a pointless "walled garden" as TVs and BluRay players add regular Internet Browsers.

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Anonymous Coward

UK TV separate on purpose.

If broadcasting in the EU was in line with the EC's vision of unifying EU member states by everyone watching the same channels/programmes, the use of common standards would make sense. However, the reality is the exact opposite - UK broadcasters in particular go out of their way to restrict viewing to UK residents, allegedly due to constraints imposed by the media owners. UK satellite broadcasting even uses a separate satellite constellation (shared only with Eire), in addition to different encryption and EPG standards. Anyone who has lived outside the UK for a while will have likely come across the issues of no Sky without a UK address, satellite dish pointing at the wrong satellite and Sky or Freesat EPGs only available on available on Sky or Freesat boxes from the UK.

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don't forget the lessons of GSM

One thing when I lived in Europe that always impressed me was the ease with which cellphones became prevalent. Even today I can comfortably carry the same device pretty much anywhere in Europe (and further afield) and it'll work.

It was only when I moved to the US that I really appreciated the part that GSM had played in that when I discovered the eternal battles being waged here by the CellCos with competing standards (CDMA, WCDMA, GSM on different frequencies etc) that served to push up their operating costs and make the choices much more complicated for consumers and in general held back innovation. Even now with LTE the US still lags behind the rest of the world but the providers spend a lot of money telling consumers how wonderful it is.

The various DVB challenges were a similar story... one standard to rule them all (putting aside national pride and politics) helps level the playing field and makes it easier for consumers to find good, reasonably priced, kit.

Of course at the end of the day there's so much crap on TV who really cares any more... I can't remember the last time I watched "live" TV for anything other than F1 (and let me tell you that experience in the US is painful compared to watching it in the UK a few weeks ago!)

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Broadcast TV?

In other news - druids say a disagreement on the standards for stone circles could make it difficult for them to interoperate across europe.

Seriously - by the time this is ratified, they hit the market and the public is completely switched over to the new sets who is going to be watching national TV broadcasters?

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Re: Broadcast TV?

Way off topic, but I have to suggest you google for "megalithic yard".

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FAIL

UK - the European Unions Odd Man Out

Once again the British consumer will get the short end of the stick.

You pay more for cars that have to be built reverse to the rest which increases costs and the complications in driving on alternate sides doesn't really enhance safety.

Then you have those bloody great monster plugs, engineered when materials were considerably cheaper. I think it's true to say only Malaysia, Singapore and possibly HongKong use them as standard.

It seems that the two-pin (with or without ground) is quite satisfactory for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people. I can buy FOUR two-pin + ground Euro plugs for the same price as a UK plug out here.

I understand the ring main concept and the individual fuses but in a country of 90-million odd where at least 80% of the population only have the main meter fuse to protect them the ring concept seems a little excessive.

Differences in standards were intended to protect manufacturers turf, to keep foreign competition out.but since Britain imports most of it's durable goods why, once again, use different standards? It means that all the latest and greatest equipment will be built for the major markets and small tokens made for the UK.

Bloody ridiculous.

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Re: UK - the European Unions Odd Man Out

Right and wrong: The UK fused plug is a result of using ring main wiring rather than star. It saved a lot of copper at it's concept, and still does. Star wiring requires more fuses in larger distribution boards.

Where is this mythical country where 80% of the people are protected by a single fuse? I think your ranting has better of your logic, unless you are comparing the UK with the 3rd world.

Globalisation means that manufacturer's turf wars are almost over, but many of us would like to protect our culture from being swamped by outside media. Unfortunately this might be a losing battle due to the internet.

The UK is an enormous market, so having differing standards will only cause a minute difference in product cost, but perhaps a little less product choice.

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