Freeview and Top-Up TV Lock Horns

In what is likely to be the first in a long series of bust-ups, the BBC is complaining that Top-Up TV, the new service run by David Chance and Ian West, will detract from the Freeview service, if the new channels are listed alongside the existing free channels.

The BBC wants Top-Up TV to have its channels grouped together on their own to distance them from Freeview. Chance and West’s new venture will initially carry ten channels for £7.99 a month, bringing subscribers E4, UK Gold, Cartoon Network, UK Style, Discovery, TCM, UK Food, Dscovery Home and Leisure, Boomerang and Bloomberg.

The whole thing reminds us somewhat of the fuss the BBC made with Sky over the Electronic Programme Guide.

Of course, the real reason that the BBC is getting sniffy about having their channels grouped with Top-Up Tv might just be that the new service is hoping to offer TVX, Richard Desmond’s porn channel, in the near future for an extra charge.

The ironic thing about the service is, despite its spangly newness, Top-UP TV can only be received on the old ITV Digital Boxes (the one you should have given back), because they’re the only ones with a smartcard reader slot on them. There are apparently some 800,000 of those boxes out in the wild, and newer hardware will have to be upgraded or replaced.

Top-Up TV’s new website

The Freeview Consortium

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?