[tig] Freeview opinion sought

Dick Hobbs dick
Tue Jun 10 08:39:24 BST 2003

Rob asked about Freeview, the digital service in the UK.

Yes, it is free to air. The signal reaches you from the same transmitter
mast that broadcasts analogue standard definition and is received by the
same rooftop aerial. You buy a decoder box for ?99 (US $160 or thereabouts),
but you pay nothing more.

The downside is that it only provides around 30 channels, although that does
include all the main networks. Satellite - the preferred option in Britain -
provides hundreds. I have the cheapest satellite package and (the last time
I counted) had well over 200 channels.

The world standard COFDM digital terrestrial standard is very stable,
provided you are in an area of good reception. Provided enough bandwidth is
allocated to the channel, picture quality is good. Dolby surround sound is
theoretically possible, although no-one is doing this yet.

No, there is no HD broadcasting, but do remember that virtually all
programming on the main channels (and all commercials) is in 16:9. As I have
said here before, in the domestic context a clean digital signal with a
reasonable number of bits, in 16:9, is good enough and HD would bring very
little - if any - perceived benefit for the average viewer.



Dick Hobbs
Freelance writer and consultant on television and film technology
+44 1435 830988
dick at hobbsonline.tv

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