Audio Visual Services Consulting
556 Chemin des St Andre
06670 St Blaise
Tel.: 06 21 33 02 15
Audio Visual Services Consulting
556 Chemin des St Andre
06670 St Blaise

Tel.: 06 21 33 02 15

News, Free to Air and other issues

ITV 4 launch today 1st November 2005
Sky Three joins Sky EPG 31st October 2005
New Sky EPG on the way
Sky to overhaul pricing structure
Sky presents its HDTV box
Sky's High Definition TV (HDTV)
BBC and ITV reception Problems
High Definition Television
ITV delays decision of "free" ITV on Sky
FREESAT launched
"FreeSat" in october 2004
Sky One to be Free To View
Free to View in France

Dealing with your syndique

Frequently asked questions and answers

New ITV 4 launch today 1st November 2005

ITV is pulling its Men & Motors channel off Sky for tomorrow night (Tuesday) only to enable viewers to watch the launch of ITV4. The new male-oriented station had faced a delay of almost a week before it could debut on the largest multichannel service in the country: Sky had claimed that it could not allocate the channel its own EPG number until November 7.

Additionally ITV have finally gone FTA ! All ITV channels switched off their encryption this morning. Now viewers can watch ITV-1, ITV-2, ITV-3 and from Tonight ITV-4 on a Sky or free to air digibox without a card. Channel 4 and Channel 5 remain encrypted and a vaild subscription or freesat card is required to watch those channels. For full tuning and ITV regional details click the link below.

( source : Skycards International )

New Sky Three joins Sky EPG 31st October 2005

Sky Three has been added to EPG number 108 on digital satellite in preparation for its launch at 5pm. The channel will offer a mixed schedule, showcasing programming from the Sky One library like season three of 24, Brainiac: Science Abuse, Tru Calling, Jake 2.0 and Oliver Beene as well as original lifestyle commissions and travel documentaries from Sky Travel. Content from Artsworld, Sky Movies and Sky Sports plus a simulcast of Sky News' 5pm bulletin will also feature.

( source : Skycards International )

New Sky EPG on the way

Sky has begun downloading version 4 of the EPG to their wide beta testing group. Releases to the group normally occur between 4 to 6 weeks before a full consumer release. Unless the wide beta group discover problems, this would appear to suggest that EPG v4 will be delivered some time in November.

As previously reported, the new version prepares Sky for the much-anticipated reshuffle of its channel lineup and the inclusion of new EPG headings.

Once all customers have been upgraded to the new version, Sky will then be in a position to make the lineup changes. Considering the long lead time for the Sky customer magazine and Sky’s dislike to reveal anything in it until they know the software has been downloaded, the final part of the channel renumbering may have to wait until the New Year.

This most significant change to the lineup concerns the gaming channels - currently listed under entertainment - which are being moved to the “Gaming and Dating” section of the EPG, on the second page.

( source : Skycards International )

Sky to overhaul pricing structure

Sky has announced details of a revamped pricing structure for its digital satellite customers as part of plans to offer greater choice and flexibility. The company also hopes that the changes will help it move closer to its long-term target of 10 million customers by 2010 and dispel pre-conceptions from potential new customers who think that Sky is an "all or nothing" product.

The introduction of the new pricing on September 1st will coincide with the creation of six genre based "mixes" of basic channels: Variety; Kids; Knowledge; Style and Culture; Music; and News and Events. Customers will be able to build a package that corresponds to their viewing preferences by selecting any two, any four or all six of the new channel mixes.

Customers will pay £15.00 per month for a "2 Mix" pack, £18.00 for a "4 Mix" pack or £21.00 for all six mixes, also known as the "Entertainment Pack". Irrespective of their selected combination of mixes, customers will be able to subscribe to any combination of Sky’s premium channels. Under the new model, the price of the top-tier package, Sky World (with Entertainment Pack), will be £42.50 per month, compared to the current price of £41.00 per month.

Confirmation of the changes from Sky is currently being sent out to all existing customers who are affected.

Stand-alone premium offerings Artsworld and Music Choice Extra, which currently cost £6 and £5 per month respectively, will drop their subscription charges as part of the restructure and join the basic tier of channels.

"Enhancing the flexibility and simplicity of the Sky proposition for current customers and future customers is at the centre of what we do," said Sky CEO James Murdoch. "We will broaden the appeal of pay television still further and achieve our goal of bringing great entertainment, choice and tremendous value to customers across the UK and Ireland."

Sky presents its HDTV box

It was a big day for Sky yesterday with the announcement that its operating profits were up 34% to £805m and that the total number of Sky subscribers is now 7.8 million. Apparently 888, 000 people now own a Sky+ box too. The company also took the wraps of its debut high definition TV decoder, which is likely to launch next year. All we know so far is that it will be a Sky+ style box with a whoppingly large hard disk built in and it will made by Thomson, the French company which makes some of the existing Sky+ boxes. I suspect they’ll let us know the size of the hard disk and the number and type of on board tuners nearer the time. Anyway for now gaze longingly at the pic.

Sky's High Definition TV (HDTV)

Sky has anounced that is going to introduce an HDTV service in 2006. The initial boxes capable of decoding HDTV are to be manufactured by Thompson. These new boxes will also incorporate a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) with the capability of the existing Sky+ box. Sky is introducing HDTV ahead of any terrestrial transmission broadcaster reaffirming the fact that the digital satellite platform is the best for choice and for the highest-quality viewing experience available. It will be 2010 before the BBC have any HDTV content. Sky's HDTV channel line-up will include a combination of sports, movies, entertainment and documentary programming. Full details will be announced later. HDTV offers a step change in picture quality, delivering a home viewing experience similar to that offered in cinemas. Viewers will see greater depth and tone of colours and textures. The improved clarity of HDTV broadcasts will bring an even greater sense of excitement and drama to a wide range of programme genres.

BBC and ITV reception problems

Recently I have been contacted more than usual about reception problems with ITV and BBC programs. These are broadcast over the low bands and can not be tested with the signal test feature in the services menu. You can test the signal strength and quality of the the two low band transponders like this :

Go into the Installers Menu by pressing "SERVICES", scroll down to "SYSTEM SETUP" and press "SELECT". Now press "0" , "1" and "SELECT" .
You should now be in a screen with "INSTALLERS MENU" at the top.
Scroll down to "MANUAL TUNING" and press "SELECT" and in the screen that follows enter the information required to test the low band transponder:
Frequency = 10773
Polarity = V for vertical / H for horizontal
Symbol Rate = 22.0
FEC = 5/6
Then highlight "FIND CHANNELS" and press "SELECT" . . . the screen will then switch to the signal test screen but this time the Transport Stream code at the bottom should change from 07d4 to 07fd.
You should then see the signal quality bar and if it is low (say less than 30%) you will almost certainly have a problem on the dish. A word of caution here . . . this test doesn't work on all digiboxes and the signal quality bar can be a total blank.

LNB SKEW: It's natural when an LNB is fitted to align it vertically in its clamp or holder. There is usually a mark on it to show which is the top. For Astra 2 satellites, the LNB has to be slightly skewed clockwise by an amount which varies from département to département. In all cases, this angle is small and as a guide you could use a clock face as an analogy. Think of the LNB lined up with the 12 and 6 on a clock face then turn it clockwise by the amount of degrees on the chart. If the LNB lines up with the 1 and 7, it has moved through 30 degrees. Adjust the LNB as necessary to get the maximum possible signal quality reading.

Should you still experience problems with your dish please let me know and I can arrange for a visit.

( source : )

High Definition Television

In a separate initiative, BSkyB will again demonstrate its commitment to lead innovation in digital television with the development of a premium package of channels in the High Definition Television (HDTV) format. Following the successful launch by BSkyB of the UK's first digital television service, first interactive television service and first integrated Digital Video Recorder Sky+, the proposed introduction of HDTV to the digital satellite platform in 2006 will ensure that Sky customers continue to benefit from the most advanced television services available.

HDTV, delivering substantially superior picture quality than standard-definition television, is the preferred format for a growing number of US television productions in genres including sport, drama, entertainment and news. Its introduction to the UK is expected to strengthen further the differentiation between digital satellite and other television platforms and to appeal to the increasing number of consumers who seek to enhance their in-home audiovisual experience with equipment such as wide-screen televisions, plasma screens and home cinema systems.

The premium service will launch in 2006 with both a set of dedicated HD channels and access to selected events produced in HD format. Further details of BSkyB's proposed technology and programming offering in HDTV will be announced in due course. In addition to the package of channels to be offered by Sky, other broadcasters on the digital satellite platform will also be able to take advantage of its HDTV capabilities to provide an enhanced experience to their viewers.

James Murdoch, Chief Executive of BSkyB, commented:
'These initiatives are another step in giving consumers a choice from Sky that suits their needs at the top and lower ends of the scale. They will help drive even greater take-up of digital TV services and enable Sky to enjoy a close relationship with even more customers.'

ITV delays decision of "free" ITV on Sky

ITV has said that an announcement relating to its presence on Sky Digital has been delayed. ITV's £17m annually contract with Sky to run its main channel ITV1 and sister station ITV2 expired last Sunday, however an extension of two months has been agreed by BSkyB. At stake is whether ITV continues to pay for the place on BSkyB's satellite and its encryption service, which stops viewers outside the UK picking up ITV channels, or joins the BBC by broadcasting "in the clear". "We've signed a two-month extension, so there'll be no news on Sunday. During that time, we'll carry on negotiating," said ITV's managing director, Mick Desmond. "ITV and Sky have reached a temporary extension over conditional access arrangements relating to digital satellite distribution of ITV1 and ITV 2," he said. "As a result ITV 1 and ITV 2 will remain encrypted for the time being. Further discussion will take place in due course," the spokesman added. ITV is unlikely to pay as much as the £17m a year it has paid for encryption - or "conditional access" - but it is also considering the more radical option of broadcasting in the clear. If it went "in the clear", following a lead set by the BBC last year when it abandoned its encryption deal with BSkyB, that could have major implications for the satellite TV business.

FREESAT launched

Sky have launched a new satellite TV service which offers 140 channels for a fee of £20. All the channels are already free except for ITV Channel 4 and Channel 5 so it's amazing they claim them to be free! The new service, freesat, is being seen by many as an attempt to rival the success of Freeview, the equivalent service for digital terrestrial TV. It has been launched on Thursday the 21st of October by Sky, although the comapny did not splash out on a big launch as it continues to focus on pay-TV. Viewers will get a digital Freesat viewing card that will enable viewers to watch Channel 4 Channel 5 and ITV. The service will initially be only available directly from BSkyB. The company hopes that the absence of a subscription fee will lure new customers who may eventually switch to a pay-TV package when analogue TV is phased out. Freesat cards now available to customers in Ireland & Europe.

Sky to launch 'freesat' in October

BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch has revealed more of the satellite operator's strategic thinking on its proposed free satellite service, high definition television, and an upgrade to its Sky Plus personal video recorder.

In an interview, Murdoch - who this week unveiled Sky's latest quarterly results, which disappointed the markets - said Freeview, the free-to-view digital terrestrial television service in which it has a stake, was regarded as "a mechanism to accelerate a replacement cycle from analogue reception equipment to digital reception equipment"

It was no more a threat to Sky than free analogue television was 10 years ago, said Murdoch.

Sky will launch its free satellite service in October, though Murdoch said the launch would be "pretty modest".

"It shouldn't have a big impact on subscriptions," said Murdoch, who revealed the launch would start regionally, "targeting areas where there may be latent demand, where Freeview has not been available because of lack of signal coverage".

Murdoch said it was "a little early right now to put some big targets" against the free satellite proposition. "But the important thing about it is that you need to have a lot of digital satellite free customers in order to get to [analogue] switchover. We think we will get to switchover, and we think we're going to be a strong player in that free-to-air digital satellite space. Those customers who are taking that service from us; it's very, very easy for them to upgrade to Sky down the road."

Murdoch confirmed a 2006 launch for its high definition television service in the UK. The service will comprise a premium package of channels, include hi-def coverage of events, movies and "a lot of programming".

"We think it's an important driver for the future. If you look at, for example, plasma screen sales in the UK projections over the next five years, some of those projections are just staggering. We see that as really an indication that people are generating higher expectations for themselves, in terms of the quality of how they want to consume media in their home and they're making investments to do that.

"So, we think there's a big market for high definition. And we think there's clear demand for that sort of high, high quality, just tremendous product. High definition's going to be great; it's just going to blow people away"

Murdoch said a new Sky Plus box would launch later this year. Costing £399, it will be pitched as a premium product, offering more programme storage memory and two USB ports, allowing consumers to connect their Sky Plus boxes to other devices.

"It's a great piece of engineering that's really going to be the platform for future development of that product. It's got a lot more storage, which is important, which gives customers a lot more flexibility and, in the future, will give us more flexibility in terms of providing different kinds of services to those customers," said Murdoch.
"Freedom of information is a right, not a crime

BSkyB commits to free Sky One

BSkyB would launch an audacious bid to take on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five with a free version of Sky One if digital terrestrial TV became widespread in the UK, a senior executive at the pay-TV group admitted today.
Richard Freudenstein, the chief operating officer of BSkyB, said it "made sense" to turn the Sky Travel channel on Freeview into an entertainment channel if the government target of switching off the analogue TV signal by 2010 was reached.

Free-to-air digital services would be installed in 12 million UK homes if switch-off was achieved, according to a report unveiled at the Royal Television Society Cambridge convention today.

"I think if that scenario happened where there was fast growth for Freeview... Sky Travel would evolve. We would invest more in it over time," he said.

"It absolutely makes sense. With that level of free-to-air viewing we can afford to invest more in the channel," he said.

It is the first time a BSkyB executive has publicly committed to launching a free version of Sky One, dubbed 'channel 6' because it would be the UK's sixth free mainstream television channel.

Channel 6 was first mooted a year ago when BSkyB snatched Dawn Airey from Channel Five and announced the launch of several new channels, including the travel channel.

Many in the industry have suspected that the travel channel, one of three BSkyB services on Freeview, is a Trojan horse for launching a free version of Sky One.

However, Mr Freudenstein warned that it was "unlikely" the government would achieve digital switch-off by 2010.

The report, called "The End Game", forecasts that if digital switch-off happened by 2010, Freeview would be in 10 million homes, BSkyB would have 9 million subscribers and cable TV would have 5 million digital customers.

The new channel 6 could be a formidable rival to ITV, Five and Channel 4.

Delegates at the RTS convention today heard predictions that BSkyB would be the single biggest and richest broadcaster in 2010 with £1bn more cash than the BBC.

It would earn an astonishing £3.6bn a year from pay-TV and, according to media commentator Mathew Horsman, one of the authors of the report, would have £1bn to spare in cashflow from 2007.

This would put it head and shoulders above its rivals in terms of its ability to invest in original programming, particularly high-cost entertainment and drama.

Free to Air

Astra 1 (German) - Astra 2 (English)

As of the 10th of July 2003 the BBC is broadcasting "clear" on the Astra 2D.
This means you can have access to their channels via a FTA (Free to Air) Satellite Box.
I have successfully tried and tested this with a Samsung DSR 9000 FTA and an 80 cm dish.

However ITV, C4 and C5 are not available as clear broadcasts over the satellite,
but their contracts are up for revision with BSkyB in the end of 2004.

Have a look at the FTA channels one can receive over the Satellite.

Free-to-view cards for sky digiboxes are no longer available through the website.
There is still a limmited stock around but the prices go up as the stocks depleet and demand rises.

For German free to view channels on the Astra 1
all that is necessary to receive is a standard FTA box and a 60cm dish + LNB.
For those interested, I can provide an all in package for
including one year maintenance.

Dealing with your syndique

To get authorisation to put up a private dish for your appartment can sometimes be a difficult thing to accomplish. Language barriers, the french non understaning of sky priciples and the desire of their UK teneants or owners to receive TV in their native language is contributing to these difficulties.

The first step to get authorisation is to send a formal request (recorded mail) to your syndique asking to be provided with the appropriate signal. It might be the syndique who is actually ordering the dish in this case. However if the syndique is not able to do so or refuses to provide you with the right signal out of what ever reason French law gives you the right to put up your own dish.

The letter you can download from the link below will ask for this authorisation and alternatively give the syndique a chance to react to your request. Attached to the letter you will have to send a sketch of the wiring diagram and planned installation, which after having viewed your property I can happily provide you with, as well as a list of the channels you would like to receive.

This then needs to be send off to the syndique by French recorded mail. With reception of this request the syndique has a maximum of three months to either agree to provide you with the right signal from existing dish systems or order the appropriate work to be carried out on their behalf. If the syndique is unable to do so you will have the right after the three months period to go ahead and have your own dish put up in the place the syndique deems best for it. Remember, you have attached a drawing of where you think the dish is best placed. In most cases this will also be the syndiques choice.

You might also have to supply them with our credentials, i.e.: Our French Business Registration and our Professional Liability Insurance

Should you have further queries abouth dealing with your syndique please contact me.

Letter to your syndique to send by recorded mail