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Archive for the ‘Televisions’

What losing the red button means for the BBC

March 28, 2016 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Computers, Customer Service, Personal Security, Search Clinic, search engines, Televisions, Uncategorized, YouTube

The BBC is to explore closing its Red Button services as part of £150m of cuts that include a £35m reduction in sports rights spending.

The BBC is to explore closing its Red Button services as part of £150m of cuts that include a £35m reduction in sports rights spending.

What does this mean for the corporation, and the viewer?

In the UK, 97% of people use the BBC and on average spend 18 hours a week with it in one form or another. The BBC also needs to cut around £700m and something will have to go.

Reconciling those two facts is never going to please everybody.

The announcement that in the first £150m of cuts a “phased exit” from red button services is now being considered makes sense if you think the BBC will increasingly be accessed online via the iPlayer.

The red button, for instance, took on what remains of the old teletext service, Ceefax, and offers extra channels for events such as Wimbledon, the Proms and Glastonbury. It looks a bit old fashioned.

The BBC is rolling out its Red Button+, which gives people a chance to see the iPlayer on the big screen and a number of other internet services. The direction of travel is assumed to be towards an online system.

The problem is sport, weather, headlines, alternative commentaries and repeats of popular programmes on the old red button services are still used by large numbers of people.

They are more likely to be older viewers, but older viewers watch more TV and are a growing part of the population. The BBC knows it has to chase the viewers of tomorrow and deliver programmes in the way they want to watch them, but it can’t afford to alienate the people who are the heaviest users of its services.

The £35m of cuts to sports rights will also pose a problem for the part of the population whose viewing is dominated by sport. The loss of the Open Golf Championship is just the latest in a long line of events that have slipped through the BBC’s fingers.

The sport that it has hung on to, for instance Formula One and the Olympics, now look a little less secure.

Given the audience is becoming more fragmented, there is a marked reluctance to cut the size and scope of the BBC. If the corporation wants to reach 97% of people in the years to come, it will have to respond to a rapidly changing technological environment.

It is worth noting that at the moment the BBC announced its latest cuts, Sky was revealing its new Sky Q box that allows viewers to record four television programmes simultaneously and watch content around the house.

Sky isn’t alone. Amazon, Apple and Netflix are all in their own ways changing the landscape of TV with new services and technology.

YouTube has just announced a new kids service in the UK, while Disney is to launch a digital streaming service at the end of the month.
Future of television: big or tiny?

What is perhaps most interesting is how many of the new developments are aimed squarely at the big screen in the living room. For the people who said TV was dying, the future for the big screen is looking very perky.

Things, then, are changing fast, and huge amounts of money are being spent on creating programmes, especially drama, and devising new technology in order to win the battle for living-room viewing.

The BBC is in the midst of a process in which the government is considering its “size and scope” and also imposing big cuts on its funding. That question of “size and scope” is very clearly set as a question about whether the BBC is too big.

Electronics companies Sony and Panasonic credit ratings cut by Fitch

November 30, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

Electronics companies Sony and Panasonic have had their credit ratings cut to the level of junk status for the first time.Electronics companies Sony and Panasonic credit ratings cut by FitchThe Fitch ratings agency pointed to their weak balance sheets and declining position in the global electronics sector, where both are struggling to compete with the likes of Samsung.

Fitch cut Sony’s rating by three notches to BB- and Panasonic’s by two notches to BB.

The rating means that it believes that both firms will default on their debt.

It gave both firms a negative outlook, confirming their debt was no longer considered safe and investment-grade. The ratings mean that Sony and Panasonic will have to pay much more to borrow now.

Fitch said its downgrade of Panasonic was due to its “weakened competitiveness in its core businesses, particularly in TVs and panels, as well as weak cash generation from operations”.

It also cast doubt on Sony’s prospects, saying a “meaningful recovery will be slow, given the company’s loss of technology leadership in key products, high competition, weak economic conditions in developed markets and the strong yen”.

Earlier this month, Fitch followed Standard & Poor’s by cutting rival electronics giant Sharp’s rating to junk.

Panasonic has warned it is on track for an annual loss of almost £6.3 billion, while Sony expects a small profit after four years of losses.

Sharp reports huge losses and issues survival warning

November 05, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Smart TV, Tablets, Telecommunications Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

Sharp has issued a warning about its future saying that it has found it tough to raise money after reporting huge losses.Sharp reports huge losses and issues survival warningIt issued the warning as it forecast a loss of 450bn yen (£3.5 billion) for the year to 31 March 2013.

Sharp, which has struggled amid falling sales and a rising yen, has had its credit rating cut to “junk” status.

It said it was looking to restructure its business in an attempt to return to profitability.

When a firm’s bonds are rated as “junk” it means some institutions may no longer invest in them, making it harder for them to raise fresh capital.

“Sharp is in circumstances in which material doubt about its assumed going concern is found,” the company said in a statement.”

Sharp’s troubles are not isolated. Most of the big Japanese electronics giants have seen their fortunes tumble in recent times.

Japanese electronics makers have been hurt by a slowing demand and falling prices of TVs in key markets.

At the same time, rising competition from low-cost manufacturers coupled with a strong yen – which makes Japanese goods more expensive – has also hit their competitiveness.

Faced with these challenges, Sharp, Sony and Panasonic have all announced plans to restructure their business in an attempt to cut costs and improve profitability.

However, analysts said that while these attempts were a step in the right direction, it was unclear how the firms will drive future profit growth, not least because demand for their key products continued to remain subdued.

BBC closes Ceefax service after 38 years

November 02, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Smart TV, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

BBC Ceefax- the world’s first teletext service has been closed down after 38 years on air.BBC closes Ceefax service after 38 yearsBefore Olympic champion Dame Mary Peters turned off the last of the UK’s analogue TV signals in Belfast, a series of graphics on Ceefax’s front page disappeared down to a small dot.

Ceefax was launched on 23 September 1974 to give BBC viewers the chance to check the latest news headlines, sports scores, weather forecast or TV listings – in a pre-internet era where the only alternative was to wait for the next TV or radio bulletin to be aired.

Its premise was to give viewers free access to the same information that was coming into the BBC newsroom, as soon as the BBC’s journalists had received it.

Ceefax had initially been developed when BBC engineers, exploring ways to provide subtitles to enable viewers with hearing problems to enjoy BBC TV programmes, found it was possible to transmit full pages of text information in the “spare lines” transmitted on the analogue TV signal.

It was called Ceefax, simply because viewers would be able to quickly “see the facts” of any story of the day.

Initially the service was a minority interest, with just a handful of Ceefax-capable TVs in the UK, but it slowly started to gain popularity and the engineering team that developed the service was honoured with a Queen’s Award for innovation.

But the real impetus for viewers came when BBC Television decided to use a selection of Ceefax pages, accompanied by music, before the start of programming each day. Initially called Ceefax AM and Ceefax In Vision, the Pages From Ceefax “programme” continued for 30 years, being broadcast overnight on BBC Two until this week.

As viewers got a small taste of what Ceefax had to offer, millions of Britons during the 1980s invested in new teletext-enabled TV sets which gave them access to the full Ceefax service, which by now included recipe details for dishes prepared on BBC cookery shows, share prices, music reviews and an annual advent calendar.

Its audience peaked in the 1990s when it had 20 million viewers who checked the service at least once a week. Since the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, dozens of jackpot winners have revealed that they first learned their life had been changed when they checked their numbers on Ceefax.

But the launch of the UK’s TV digital signal, and the announcement that the analogue TV signal would disappear in a staged switch-off over five years, meant a slow withdrawal of Ceefax, ending with the final broadcast in Northern Ireland.

Ceefax’s commitment to getting information to viewers as quickly and clearly as possible has been marked by the lifetime achievement award from the Plain English Campaign, the pressure group that calls for the use of concise and clear language in all public communication.

Apple drops Google Maps software in new iOS

June 13, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, internet, smart phones, Smart TV, Tablets, Technology Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

Apple has unveiled its latest mobile operating system, iOS6, which runs on its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices- but will no longer include Google Maps software.Apple drops Google Maps software in new iOSApple will instead run its own mapping app, which has a high-quality 3D mode on the platform.

Google announced its own 3D mapping software last week on its competing mobile platform, Android.

Both companies have used fleets of planes to capture the imagery, drawing concerns from some privacy campaigners.

Apple’s updated iOS software will be available for general consumers by the autumn, chief executive Tim Cook said.

It will be a free update for owners of  the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS – as well as users of the latest iPad, the iPad 2 and fourth generation iPod touch.

Additional features include “eyes free”, a feature on which Apple said it had worked with car manufacturers to integrate a “Siri button” to activate the iPhone’s voice-operated assistant.

For the first time on Apple’s devices, video calls will be able to be made over a cellular connection, rather than relying on wi-fi.

The company also announced revamped models in its Macbook Pro and Macbook Air ranges.

It’s new Macbook Pro is 0.71 inches thick, with a high-resolution Retina display. It utilises Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor.

Its slimline Macbook Air range has also been upgraded with enhanced graphics and processing capabilities.

Both will offer a free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion, the latest version of the Mac operating system which is set for release in July.

Among its features is enhanced synchronisation between desktop, laptop and mobile, thanks to iCloud, the company’s cloud-based storage service.

Once again, overhyped predictions that Apple was set to announce a long rumoured television were wrong. September is a more likely date.

Technology addict parents guilty of child neglect

May 22, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, internet, Tablets, Technology Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

Parents who are constantly using their mobile phones or iPads in front of their children are guilty of “benign neglect”.Technology addict parents guilty of child neglectA generation of people is growing up with a virtual addiction to computers, televisions and smartphones with striking similarities to alcoholism, according to Dr Aric Sigman.

He told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference in Glasgow that parents need to “regain control” of their households.

He said: “Passive parenting’ in the face of the new media environment is a form of benign neglect and not in the best interests of children. Parents must regain control of their own households.”

Last month a Europe wide report called for nurseries to ban televisions and called for parents to resist pleas to let children have them in their bedrooms, in a bid to fight obesity among young people.

Dr Sigman, who is both a biologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, drew on research which suggests an association between high levels of screen use and both type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In a presentation on the parallels between screen dependency and alcoholism, he said that on-screen novelty and stimulation caused the release of dopamine, a chemical which plays an important role in the brain’s “reward” system and may be linked to the formation of addictions.

It is estimated that teenagers now spend up to six hours a day in front of some form of small screen.

Children as young as 10 now have access to as many as five different screens at home, often watching two or more at a time, he said in a presentation to the conference and screen dependency.

But parents’ behaviour can play a key role in determining how children will treat technology, he said.

Boys whose parents watch more than four hours a day of television are more than 10 times more likely to develop the same habit as those whose parents do not, he said.

He also singled out parents who maintain high levels of “eye-to-screen contact” at home warning that they are likely to instill similar behaviour in their children

“Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk,” he said.

“Whether children or adults are formally ‘addicted’ to screen technology or not, many of them overuse technology and have developed an unhealthy dependency on it.”

“While there are obviously a variety of different factors which may contribute to the development of a dependency – whether it involves substances or activities – the age, frequency, amount of exposure along with the ease of access and the effects of role modelling and social learning, all strongly increase the risk.”

“All of these contribute to a total daily exposure to, or ‘consumption of’, an activity. And all are prerequisite factors that contribute to the risk of dependent overuse of technology.”

He called for children under three to have no screen time at all, and no more than an hour a day outside school for those under seven.

CES review- Smart TVs are primed for growth

January 20, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Broadband, Browser, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, smart phones, Smart TV, Technology Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

Smart TVs sets with the ability to stream online content, run apps and show television channels simultaneously dominated the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) exhibition.CES review- Smart TVs are primed for growthAt the end of 2011 there were 82 million connected TVs in homes worldwide according to research group Informa. By 2016 it forecasts that number will have ballooned to 892 million.

For years much of the tech industry has pursued a vision of the computer as the home’s digital hub. Owners used their PCs to copy photos off digital cameras, download music and movies and then transfer the material to other compatible devices.
Camera built into Samsung smart TV Samsung’s built-in camera allows its TV to recognise gestures and identify users

Advanced users might have connected their laptop to their TVs or streamed content to the sets wirelessly, but the televisions were at most at the end of a spur coming off the hub, rather than its heart.

The roll-out of cloud services allied to faster internet speeds now offers televisions the chance to usurp the PC’s place, and offers users further freedom from the confines of broadcasters’ schedules.

Samsung – the world’s best-selling TV-maker – has been at the forefront of efforts to deliver this vision.

One of the promotional videos it showed at this year’s event claimed watching television by appointment would become a foreign concept in the future, and its executives talk of the TV being the centre of the home.

Users are offered thousands of apps allowing them to use social networks, play video games, run educational software and follow exercise routines.

But smart TV makers recognise that people still want a sit back rather than lean forward experience most of the time.

Furthermore they acknowledge that increasing numbers of homes own other connected devices. So users may still find it preferable to tweet about a show via their tablet or smartphone rather than shrink the TV picture to pull up an app alongside.

However, manufacturers insist there are instances where it makes more sense to have everything on one screen.

While Samsung and Panasonic are developing their own system software, Google is taking a second crack at offering its own smart TV service.

At the show, LG and Vizio unveiled new sets with the search firm’s Android-based software built in. Sony also added the facility to two devices – a set-top box and a Blu-ray player.

The first version of Google TV launched in October 2010 to much fanfare, but proved a flop – enabled devices were criticised for being too expensive, and several TV networks blocked the US-only service from accessing their web content.

This time round a focus on apps may tempt content providers to co-operate, but for now it remains reliant on its own YouTube service as well as streams from Netflix, Amazon and several niche operations.

UK-based Canonical was punting a rival Linux-based Ubuntu operating system at the trade show. It says it offers a solution to clients who do not want to develop their own software and content deals, but feel uncomfortable linking up with Google.

Whichever operating system proves most popular, the internet poses a threat to the rest of the pay-TV market.

Furthermore, it says that recent developments have spurred pay-TV providers on to furnish its boxes with more material.

For now, the smart TV market looks fragmented from the point of view of content, and immature in terms of some of the technologies involved.

But as smart TVs become ever smarter, previous generations of unconnected sets may soon appear only slightly less antiquated than the black and white models of yesteryear.