Monday, June 20, 2005

Love your Auntie

Apologies to those not resident in the UK, or in the dwindling ranks of the Anglophiles: "Auntie" is the historic term of reference for the BBC, which later this year is launching an open-source challenge to the proprietary triumvirate of media player codecs available today. Dirac, as it is known, is something I recall coming across something like 18 months ago, and I think I may have written something about it in one of our .pdf spam products. I wish in retrospect that I had blogged it at the time, because I think it clearly is going to be huge.

Outside the UK, commercial terrestrial and satellite broadcasters, as well as telcos, should look to the skies and thank the deity of their choice that they don't have to contend with an entity like the BBC. Whatever the complaints and criticisms levelled at her, Auntie understandably feels she has a remit to extend digital uptake of her services by any means necessary (Freeview, P2P, Dirac), and to a great extent she has the freedom to pursue her vision without fear of self-cannibalization. This confronts everyone in the UK media space with an everpresent 800lb. wildcard.

At the tail end of last week, the advocacy group VLV issued a whitepaper which added another public layer of complexity to what is already a very complicated UK TV market. I was lucky enough to have a meeting some months ago with some very switched-on people within BBC strategy, and one thing that came across clearly was a passionate interest in seeing the success of Freeview replicated in a free satellite model, ostensibly to address the c.27% of UK households not covered by Freeview. I recall that at the time they claimed to have received inquiries from something like 4m unique households in these areas, asking when Freeview (or something comparable) would be available to them. I may be colorblind, but this certainly looks like a green light.

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