We're going to do WHAT?!

Posted on 20 April 2005 in BBC red button, Interactive TV (No comments)

Is it really a year ago that the BBC's statement of programme policy proclaimed that we'd:

"ease of transition to digital for analogue Ceefax users through QuickCodes that pinpoint the equivalent information on BBCi"


Well it must be cos the 2005 Statements of Programme Policy appear to have arrived.

Funnily enough I didn't know exactly what the 2005 Statement of Programme Policy for BBCi was going to say - sorry, I'm not that important - but it transpires that in 2005/2006 BBCi will do all sorts of exciting things like add new games to the CBeebies service. But in there are a few interesting things worth highlighting:

  • launch a new CBBC Extra service (which is the easy one cos it's almost ready)
  • provide an interactive radio service - that's beyond what we're doing now on Freeview, which is obviously cool
  • provide enhanced coverage of the Election. (Well yes. Pretty obvious really!)
  • pilot a local television project to measure the impact of on-demand local news - as announced in March. Potentially big stuff if the pilot goes well - the pilot will be on satellite and on broadband, and will be based in the West Midlands.

But the biggy is...

raise the quality and impact of the service, as each platform allows by improving ease of use and service speed - reducing access times to 6 seconds across all platforms


Which is deliriously wonderful in its vagueness, cos if you take it at face value, it's actually a physical impossibility. For example we have at work, a Hitachi iDTV that takes around 90 seconds to load BBCi. If you're lucky.

There ain't nothing we're going to be able to do to make that iDTV load BBCi in 6 seconds - it just ain't going to happen dudes. That TV (designed around about 1998) is just crap and it ain't going to happen. And I'm not too optimistic about improving the lot of OnDigital box owners - we've done the best we can and we're still coming out around 15 seconds to load.

And don't get me started on cable...

Nah, six seconds across the board ain't going to happen. But if you look at averages... Well DTT is probably there already - I did some time trials about a year ago and most set top boxes can load BBCi in under six seconds as it is.

Satellite is another matter... At the minute, you look at around 11-13 seconds to load the service, on average across the different boxes. Can we get it down to six seconds? Well it's a challenge, but... well let's just say the initial work shows some interesting results.

As to whether it will be six seconds, well I think someone has just thrown down a gauntlet and I'm glad it's not my project that's got to pick it up! Mind you, you'll still be lucky if we can do it on cable...

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