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back to article Freesat downs own website after Downton quickie

A 40-second spot during last night's Downton Abbey was enough to knock out the Freesat website as viewers rushed to find out more about how to get satellite TV for less. The spot highlighted Freesat's new <freetime> offering which integrates the various free VoD services offered by the BBC, ITV and so forth, but the spike in …

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>but for those not interested in sports a Sky subscription is increasingly hard to justify

Do you think people are only paying to watch sports? What about or movies? There are also several hundred 'normal' TV channels that are only available by subscription. And I'm not talking about the crappy second rate ones that show nothing but repeats.

I don't want to appear to be a Sky advert but I do think it sad (if it's true) that a lot of Sky subscribers only watch the sports or movies channels. If you're going to cough up for a subscription you owe it to yourself to see what else is out there. Yes 80% is repeats but 20% of several hundred channels still means a lot of original content.

Speaking personally I don't have a Movies subscription and only watch F1 on the sports channels. I do however manage to find more original content available every evening than I can currently keep up with (it being the peak viewing season). It's also almost entirely in HD. I really hope the author of this article is mistaken and that most Sky subscribers are aware that there's more to Sky than just sports.

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"If you're going to cough up for a subscription you owe it to yourself to see what else is out there."

Err...how about saving on the subscription and seeing what else is out there? There is a life beyond the goggle-box.

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For me it has boiled down to sports.

I do like the movie channels but i would be perfectly happy to get movies through a VOD/netflix etc channel.

I've already decided that I'm dropping the subscription but i've been dragging my feet because I like sports (although I don't follow football which is 90% of the sport content)

If Sky Now end up with sports then that would be perfect. Sky can either get £0 from me or £something from me for providing what I want without all the crap i don't wont.

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Do you think people are only paying to watch sports?

I am. Specifically for the Formula 1, I finally capitulated a coupler of months ago and felt dirty ever since. The second they lose exclusivity of that is the second they lose me as a customer (or the 12 month contract expires, whichever comes sooner).

Whilst there is some other stuff on there worth watching that isn't the same old repeats, it is few and far between. 'Elementary' is the only thing that springs to mind and I'd be more than happy to do with that what I did with their other exclusive shows - wait for the DVD boxed set.

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Repeatedly repeating repeats

> And I'm not talking about the crappy second rate ones that show nothing but repeats.

Actually, you are.

Once you remove all the duplicates (there are over a dozen channels for C4, alone), prime/subscriptions, smut, "plus 1's", telesales, god, foreign-language and single-topic channels there are maybe 40 or 50 "proper TV" channels out of the thousand or so that a scan of Sky's satellites throws up.

Out of those almost all of them show repeats for most of the time. Even supposedly good channels such as FX or Sky1 only have one or two new (i.e. never shown before) programmes on any given night and sometimes they have none at all. E.g. tonight: Sky1 have 1 half-hour sitcom that's new and 1 hour-long new drama.

So if you don't want "crappy second rate ones that show nothing but repeats" you won't find a solution on satellite TV (and hardly ever on terrestrial, either). Most programmes are repeats. Most new stuff is repeated 3 or 4 times in the week after first broadcast - even more on the +1's. And some channels may only have 4 or 5 hours (30% of which is advertisements) of new material in a week. The clever bit is that they have superb promotional people, who can make the stale, dull and tired content appear new, fresh and must-see. It's not.

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I only use Sky to watch sports. I can't think of the last non sports programme I saw on broadcast TV. I don't just watch sports, but sports - cricket - is the only reason I have Sky.

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Channels

Looking at the channel line-up, we still watch quite a bit of the "main" channels, i.e. BBC1-4, Channel 4 and 5, ITV1-4 but also:

I tend to watch: Sky1, Dave (yeah, I know), Discovery, Discovery Science, History Channel, and Sky F1

The wife watches: Sky Living, Watch, and Gold

Our son watches: Boomerang, Disney Junior and the Cartoon Network

Not sure we would cope well without Sky!

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Re: Repeatedly repeating repeats

> Once you remove all the duplicates (there are over a dozen channels for C4, alone), prime/subscriptions, smut, "plus 1's", telesales, god, foreign-language and single-topic channels there are maybe 40 or 50 "proper TV" channels out of the thousand or so that a scan of Sky's satellites throws up.

No I'm not. I think you're missing the point and/or don't understand %ges. There are so many channels that even if each channel only had one new programme an evening there'd still be a dozen hours of new programming. I guarantee you that tonight every hour between 8pm and midnight you can find at least one programme (probably two between 9pm and 11pm) that have never been broadcast in the UK before. I hate watching repeats because frankly not much is worth watching twice but I typically find five or six hours of new material every evening. Right now as I said in my post I'm finding more than I can watch.

As for adverts - only a pillock watches those. Get a PVR and learn how to use it. That applies to FreeView and FreeSat as well.

Oh and Sky don't own any satellites. I think many years ago in a previous incarnation they might have held a small number of shares in one of the providers but since they've been called 'Sky' they have just rented transponders like everyone else. In fact most of the channels aren't even broadcast by Sky.

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Re: Repeatedly repeating repeats

> if each channel only had one new programme an evening ...

But they don't. For example, just look at Comedy central No new episodes of anything on ANY of their 5 channels tonight.

> Oh and Sky don't own any satellites ...

Oh and everybody knows that. Just like the phrase: "Britain's aging population" doesn't mean that the country owns the pensioners. It's widely understood that the possessive can infer a relationship where that context makes sense - not only an ownership.

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Anonymous Coward

@The BigYin

"There is a life beyond the goggle-box."

Why would you go on a comments forum relating to an article specifically about TV delivery methods just to tell people to watch less TV?!? You are aware it's completely off topic and makes you exceptionally arrogant?

I guess you spend your evenings instead trawling around local leisure centres with a sandwich board telling people that swimming is shit...

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Happy

Re: @The BigYin

Glad someone else thinks it was OT - even they are anonymous. I must admit I didn't like the way my post came across as an advert. But if you're in the market for a TV service then dismissing Sky as 'only sports' is wrong in my opinion. Yes most of it (maybe the sport as well) is mindless drivel but millions of people enjoy spending their time watching mindless drivel. Sky isn't cheap and I'd like to think I was doing a bit of a public service by letting Sky subscribers know that they have access to more than just sport.

And to the OP still not understanding - you've only picked one more channel. There are several dozen. Last night my box was recording from 8pm to 1:35am and for most of that it was using both tuners. I am not currently watching repeats of anything. Now fine some (maybe a lot) of what I watch is firmly in the 'mindless drivel' camp but it's all original material. To the UK at least.

Anyway: Subscribing to a TV series is silly. However we all have the right to spend our money as we see fit - just bear in mind that Sky and Virgin both offer more than just sports and movies :)

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Previous owners left an old Sky dish...

...when I get the time, a Freesat PVR is getting set up. So long as you are not emotionally immature and need to see the new thing right now, you can save a bundle.

In fact, use the saved money to get a subscription LoveFile/Netflix/similar or buy boxed sets. A £40+ saving each month is about one box set. You can also rip the box set (warning: this is illegal) and watch it on any device you want for no extra charge!

As the number of channels has gone up, the quality has dropped noticeably. National Geographic is reduced to shows like "Ancient Alien Ghost Mysteries of the Paranormal"; which is pretty pathetic. About the only channels consistently showing anything worth watching are BBC1-3, BBC News and Channel 4. The rest is just so much dross.

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"Ancient Alien Ghost Mysteries of the Paranormal"

That's my favourite show.

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Re: Previous owners left an old Sky dish...

Same here.

So Debian+DVB-S PCIe card (forgot which one) + MythTV makes the PVR with a Mythweb frontend.

MiniDLNA provides playback to my smart tv.

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WTF?

I've just been house-sitting for a week and had a look at their Sky box. What a load of crap! Who in their right mind would pay to watch advertisements? The ads. were so often and so prolonged that it was unwatchable.

The UI was rubbish too.

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Game Of Thrones

That is all.

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Boffin

@Mystic Megabyte

Presumably, then, they didn't have a Sky+ box.

The only thing I watch "live" (ie as it's broadcast) is the News. Everything else is stacked up on Sky+ waiting to be watched at my convenience and the ads get fast-forwarded through.

I pay £20 a month for Sky which gives me Discovery, History, National Geographic, Sky 1, Atlantic, SyFy, Watch etc etc plus all the Freeview channels which is well worth the money to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Bit Torrent

That is all

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Re: Bit Torrent

Of course, if everyone used Bit Torrent there would be no source material to share. You're just freeloading at the honest subscriber's expense.

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Re: Bit Torrent

You are assuming that just because someone uses file sharing to get access to content, that they are not also paying for that content.

I pay for all my content, via Sky, doesn't mean I'm going to stop downloading the content that I want to view as soon as it is available. Plus, no "go compare" adverts, since they've already been edited out. Plus, no waiting around for a "box set" - "Hey you! You paid to watch this on TV, how about another £40 to watch it again? No? Why?"

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Re: Bit Torrent

"Of course, if everyone used Bit Torrent there would be no source material to share. You're just freeloading at the honest subscriber's expense."

Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. Or just maybe I'm getting TV that a) Is not available to me due to some geo-blocking, or b) That somebody else has recorded and stripped the ads out of, as I don't have a PVR. Please explain why I am any worse that somebody who 'PVR'd it and edited out the adverts? Or does the use of PVR's mean no source material also.

For what it's worth I am an honest subscriber too.

"For some things in life there is mastercard...for everything else there is Bit Torrent" :-)

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Re: Bit Torrent

"For what it's worth I am an honest subscriber too."

No you're not - you're a criminal.

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The Old Ones Are The Best

But if everyone used Bit Torrent, I'd be a fool not to.

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Spot on analysis

About the greenery to pad out the few roses in cable or sat channel bundles.

I wish there was a package where you could truly pick just the channels you wanted though knowing you would have to pay a reasonable price for each (on top of some base administrative/supply charge)

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Re: Spot on analysis

I'm sure every 4 years we're told that due to broadcast rules and competition legislation SKY has been forced to unbundle all its services so customers only pay for the channels they'd like to watch. And as I wait for the invite from SKY that allows me to tick each channel I want to pay for I watch quality free TV instead via Freeview or Freesat. I'm still waiting.

Were the news people just telling me lies of does SKY just get away with not doing what it's told?

At the end of the day if you have a little patience, a Freeview or Freesat HD PVR and an app showing you all the terrestrial movies showing this week your choice of movies is just as good as the ones on SKY. Add in a on/off subscription to Lovefilm and Netflix and I'd say you have it even better.

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Re: Spot on analysis

> And as I wait for the invite from SKY that allows me to tick each channel I want to pay for I watch quality free TV instead via Freeview or Freesat. I'm still waiting.

Certainly sir, pick any channels you like at £5/month each, or we'll do you a discounted bundle of the lot for only £26.

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Re: Spot on analysis

> Certainly sir, pick any channels you like at £5/month each, or we'll do you a discounted bundle of the lot for only £26.

Since "the lot" from Sky is nearer to £80/month these days (for a single TV, and I really don't know where you got the £26 from) that is the same as paying for 16 channels at £5/month, or in other words, if they really did offer something like that they'd lose quite a lot of revenue. I personally can't think of 16 channels I'd want and be willing to pay £5/month for, but I would pay £5/month for just Sky One.

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Re: Spot on analysis

Yes, like you I'd pay £5/month for both Sky Atlantic and Sky Sports (if they put all the Premiership games on one channel). Freesat/Freeview gives me everything else I need. Same way I don't mind paying LoveFILM £5 every month or so.

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Re: Spot on analysis

Oops, your new, customer-friendly system gave them some wiggle-room.

Just watch as that supply charge grows and grows (just like telephone line rental).

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Re: Spot on analysis

> I really don't know where you got the £26 from

Basic Sky "Entertainment extra", no movies/sport, is £26.50. It's what I pay, since I have no interest in sport and prefer to watch films in the cinemas they were made for.

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I have FreeSat because I live in Milton Keynes, and live in a area where the houses where built without aerials, and CABLE piped in by default, provided by NTL at the time, now Virgin Media, who promptly switched it off when they took over. Which left us with paying to have an aerial badly installed in the house, or get Sky, as Virgin Media are no longer allowed in Milton Keynes to dig up the roads (I don't think they were ever allowed to sig our area up either).

FreeSat isn't to bad, I do miss the UKTV channels though, GOLD, Dave (or Top Gear TV as I call it), and I doubt those will ever make it to FreeSat (broadcasting licenses and such). But it's not a bad service, I don't miss Sky at all ;)

To really get anything out of FreeSat, you DO need one of the fancy expensive set-top boxes, I would love Catch-Up TV (I have a basic Bush FreeSat SD box), hopefully when my new TV arrives next week (Smart TV w/ built-in FreeSat HD), all those problems should be eliminated ;)

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Anonymous Coward

I think the reason given for not upgrading the cable is due to the fact that it is actually owned by BT, and just leased to VM

BT used to run the cable TV donkeys ago.

I went for freesat as my house already had an unused sky dish on the side, and no aerial.

A multi way LNB, and a few old SD sky boxes sort out the other rooms in the house which require TV.

XBMC in every room helps with some offline content.

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Have just quit sky as am not interested in sport and dont rate the other Sky content.

Freesat has all the channels I used to watch for 99% of the time on Sky anyway.

Used to like sky history channel but that now shows stuff which i dont consider to be history.

e.g. Ice Road Truckers.

Also object to having my news spoilt by lots of rubbish sports results.

If they have a sports channel they should keep the sports "news" on that.

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I have Freeview+ and Netflix and that combination gives me more content than I can watch. I tend to record everything I want to watch, so I think Red Dwarf X is the only thing i have watched at the time is was broadcast in the last year.

A lot of my family have sky in their houses and they all seem to enjoy it, so it's good to have the choice.

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Happy Freesat user here

Put up a dish and installed a Humax Foxsat box specifically for all the Olympics channels earlier this year. Bonus of being able to record the F1 in HD when not around to watch it (if I can avoid hearing the results!). Refuse to give money to Murdoch and Sky, even if it means missing live coverage of some races. As a bonus I have a horror channel to record plenty of crap movies!

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It should be noted there are two services in the UK called "Freesat". There's the well known BBC/ITV Freesat or "Freesat from Sky" (that you get when you cancel your subscription).

For Freesat I'm using the new Humax HDR-1000S box which lets you scroll back in time in the programme guide to watch previously broadcast programmes. Though it currently only works on BBC & ITV with C4 & C5 coming "later".

It's sold with 500GB or 1TB disks though you can replace it with a 2TB one for storage for more recordings. See http://myhumax.org/forum/topic/hard-disk-upgrade-using-wd20eurs-2tb if interested.

There's a comparison on channels offered by Freeview, BBC/ITV Freesat and Sky Freesat here:

http://www.ukfree.tv/allchannels.php

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An addendum to my comment:

You can't record or watch HD channels with 'Freesat from Sky' but you can do both on BBC/ITV Freesat. The HD channels on Freesat are BBC One, BBC HD, ITV1, C4 & NHK (Japanese news).

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I switched from Sky to Freesat

With a new baby on the way, we decided to can Sky's £50 per month HD pack (with no sports) and shell out the one-off fee for a Freesat recorder. We bought a Samsung box and we run it alongside subscriptions to both Netflix and LoveFilm. Works perfectly for us. Don't really miss those Sky channels as we realised we didn't watch them much anyway. Sky has now been trying to entice us back with 75% off. Too late for that, guys. You ripped us off for far too long!

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Re: I switched from Sky to Freesat

Ditto (well, apart from the baby) We have the Samsung Freesat+ box and get Netflix (on the Wii) and LoveFilm via a "DigitalStream" STB I picked up from Maplin for £20 (They had it reduced from £80 to £40 on a stand that said everything half marked price. As the marked price was £40 I argued that it should be £20 and got it for that)

£12 a month for NetFlix and LoveFilm and I can cancel when I want.

The only thing I really miss is live F1, and there's no way I'm going to fork out £stupid per month to Sky just for that.

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Re: I switched from Sky to Freesat

If you're only missing F1 live, then simply whack RTE 1 on, mute the TV and stick radio 5 live on.

You will need to custom add RTE 1 to your channel line up.

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Re: I switched from Sky to Freesat

@ Eponymous Cowherd: The thing I miss most is Eurosport. I'm more of a MotoGP fan than F1 and the BBC's coverage is so poor I don't even watch it any more. :( I also miss Dave, primarily because what I've seen of the new Red Dwarf series seems a return to form.

I also realised that my OP suggested baby was on the way now. The decision to switch was made back in August. Baby is well in situ and screaming the house down. ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Freesat ...

... + US iTunes for those who really must watch the latest episode of whichever US show they are into.

Still miles cheaper than a Sky subscription.

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What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

In Germany, FTA television is simply managed by the stations. They buy a transponder, they uplink themselves or buy uplink capacity, and you buy the equipment set it up and have TV. There's no intermediate in the loop.

It simply works, and it uses the DVB-EPG which, depending on the channel, shows you the programs to come for the next 1-4 weeks. Plus you still have teletext and you have a broad variety of DRM-free receivers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

It works like that in the UK too, except that Sky have brainwashed everyone into thinking that it provides all those channels. A lot of people even think that Sky owns the satellites :(

Most of the channels "on Sky" are independents who pay Sky to be included in the Sky EPG. Some are subscription-based, and use Sky to manage the subscription, but all the FTA ones are just as independent as the German ones, and can be received on a standard FTA satellite receiver.

The one lack is the EPG, few of the independents use the standard DVB-EPG, so without a receiver that embeds one of the proprietary EPGs like Sky or Freesat you have to buy a TV guide each week. That seems to be the situation in France as well. Even so, a Freesat receiver is a fairly low one-off cost.

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Re: What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

Well the EPG problem is actually the main problem we in Germany have. There is a VDR-plugin for the Sky/Freesat EPG, but it crashes regularly.

BTW, UK television is, by a large margin, much better than German.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

"BTW, UK television is, by a large margin, much better than German"

Massive generalisation, not one I agree with.

The best of British TV may sometimes be better than some German TV.

Format TV is format TV in both countries - Millionaire, X Factor, other multinational formats from the likes of Endemol/Bazalgette/etc.

I would argue that routine German TV is no worse than routine British TV, quite possibly better,

What German TV does have that British TV mostly lost long ago is bits of genuine character and choice. There's still genuine regional TV in Germany. The UK lost that ages ago.

Randomly ordered thoughts: There's nothing like BR-Alpha in the UK (the closest we had to Space Night was Landscape Channel, there's no Bob Ross, and educational TV died when BBC2 and the Open University split up). We have no 3-Sat. Or ARTE. No Rockpalast. (Jools Holland is a joke). When I finally got German *digital* TV earlier this year, I watched more UK artistes on ZDF in the first couple of weekends than I'd seen on the BBC in ages. We get Gordon effing Ramsay, you get Kuchenchefs (in its own way, one of the most uplifting programmes I watch). AND if you're a Jamie Oliver fan you can watch him in German instead/as well.

German TV also seems to manage without needing *everything* to be celebrity led. You can watch a zoo programme without Kate Humble/Strachan/etc. A railway programme without Michael "not an immigrant" Portillo. Yes German TV has celebrity led programmes but there are many many others that aren't.. You don't seem to have a PJ and Duncan/Ant and Dec monopoly on Saturday peak time like we (used to?) have.

I could go on, but I won't. Instead, I'll just ask what makes you say German TV is better than UK?

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Re: What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

Well first of all the presentation. German TV now seems like it's just hurled at you. Endings of movies are cut and replaced by annoying loud trailers.

German TV is generally "louder". Even public TV channels have no tact and just scream at you.

German TV is hosted by idiots, there is no care, no fact checking, even the most obvious errors get through. Nobody tries to make television going beyond stereotypes. If you watch a documentation, any documentation, even the ones on arte, you'll just get a spoof of the same old thing. I mean a few months ago I've seen a BBC documentary about Betchley park, and they explained cryptographic attacks on stream cyphers. That would be impossible in Germany.

I could go on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

"there is no care, no fact checking, even the most obvious errors get through. "

Same as over here then, in general. Mistakes galore, large and small. A marvellous program called How Britain Worked has just started on channel 4. An animation of something as simple as a screw+gear caught my eye. The screw was rotating, and the animated gear was rotating THE WRONG WAY. But hey, the animation was shiny and 3D and modern looking, unlike the real turbine it was depicting (Silly mistakes like that apart, it's well worth a look).

"a few months ago I've seen a BBC documentary about Betchley park, and they explained cryptographic attacks on stream cyphers. That would be impossible in Germany."

Quality TV like that is extremely extremely rare over here these days too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What I don't understand is why you need a company for that

"I'll just ask what makes you say German TV is better than UK?"

In case it's not obvious from the context: I got that the rong way wround. Apologies to Christian and others.

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