Amidst all the trade madness surrounding Sky Q marketing comes Sky’s latest bid to stay in favour with all those terrestrial TV viewers who don’t want the hassle of dish installation or are threatened with all kinds of grief over access to satellite signals. Sky is to launch a new NOW TV set top box which combines its portfolio of contract-free subscription channels with more than 60 free to air live channels, including BBC One and ITV. Launched four years ago, NOW TV streams Sky’s most popular sports, movies and entertainment channels via the viewer’s broadband connection. Customers can buy ‘passes’ to each channel type without the need for an ongoing contract, offering low-cost and flexible access to premium channels. The new box will integrate NOW TV and Freeview channels for the first time and will allow Sky to better compete against BT and TalkTalk’s low priced TV services which are also delivered via broadband and include a mix of pay channels alongside Freeview’s aerial-delivered channels. It will also compete with the new internet-connected Freeview Play set top boxes. Sky says the new device is the ‘most advanced’ NOW TV box ever and promises it’ll be available ‘later this year’. Pricing and further details will be announced in the coming months. NOW TV worked with Silicon Valley based Roku Inc. to develop the new NOW TV Smart Box which will sit alongside the existing NOW TV Box. Existing NOW TV customers are also set to benefit from a new user interface featuring ‘a content-rich homepage’ showcasing content available across the platform’s range of catch up TV apps and pay TV content. NOW TV was Sky’s gentle squeeze into the avid ‘terrestrial’ dedicated mass who simply want some extras occasionally and can connect to a significant broadband feed. A recent new black NOW TV box has recently replaced the older white and blue model. A very cheap and simple device, it fits in the palm of your hand, with an HDMI output to connect to your TV and uses either an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi to connect to your broadband router. There’s a USB port, from which you can play the most common video, audio and image formats. Power is provided by a small plug adaptor and there’s even an HDMI cable in the box.
The perpetuating euphoria surrounding Sky’s marketing of ‘Sky Q’ continues to cause reams and reams of media speculation. Here’s what the CAI has found published when it comes to the ‘unofficial biography’ of Sky Q. As yet the CAI has not received any official statement from the Sky Chief Executive or anyone assigned to the marketing of Sky TV regarding how Sky Q is to be sold or installed - or more importantly how anyone on a shared dish system would be able to raise their level of subscription to take Sky Q. All we know is that one day it will launch in the UK as a Sky TV extra option. This month’s ‘Home Cinema’ featured 3 pages of ‘what you need to know’ about Sky Q. A summary of what was in that article.
Following an amicable Annual General Meeting in Watford on the 19th November, the CAI’s newly elected board of directors met and welcomed back a past member for his second term of office. Jan Treiber came back on board to occupy an already vacated seat on the distributor side of the table. He previously represented ASTRA (GB) Ltd during his first term but after a short time away from our trade has taken on a role at Global Invacom Group Ltd. With Global returning to the CAI earlier in the year and the company expressing an interest at being more involved, this was an opportunity not to be missed. Welcome back Jan.
The Digital Television Group (DTG) - in collaboration with the CAI - has published the 6th edition of its free R-Book for aerial system installers fitting Freeview and all other DTT-based platforms. With practical advice on interference mitigation and the latest industry guidelines. R-Book 6 has been produced by the DTG RF Working Group, led by the DTG’s Principal RF Engineer, Alex Buchan, broadcast transmission and reception consultant Peter Barnett and the CAI’s Technical Committee, at the request of Ofcom, the UK communications regulator. It is the first update to the R-Book series since 2005, and covers subjects such as DVB-T2, Local TV, TV White Space and the future of DTT, as well as ensuring installers are prepared for the expected clearance of TV services from the 700MHz band later this decade.
The complete R-Book 6 is available to download at no cost from the DTG and CAI websites, and will be accompanied by a quick reference field guide that will be issued free to CAI installer members. The R-Book can be downloaded on the following link, http://www.dtg.org.uk/publications/books.html.
From 1st October the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will update the laws governing every business selling directly to consumers. At present, consumers spend more than 59 million hours a year dealing with problems with goods and services. The updated law will mean consumers and businesses will find it easier to resolve problems with faulty goods, substandard services and, for the first time, digital content rights including specific rights to the repair or replacement of faulty digital products. This will save businesses and consumers time and money.
A new consumer protection service to help homeowners and tradespeople enter into an agreed contractual arrangement when paying for home improvement, repair or maintenance work has been announced today by TrustMark, the only Government-endorsed scheme for all trades in and around the home.
It was always on the CAI agenda that one day our training programmes would one day gain some national recognition by an awarding body. The CAI has followed a very long trail of assessment and re-alignment towards what will hopefully be an accreditation of our training programmes that enables the affiliation of the City & Guilds logo to our certification. This means our courses are run to City & Guilds standards. The hopeful kudos is profile raiser that the CAI can pin next to its TrustMark scheme operator status. CAI training was reported as one of the great success stories at this year’s CAI AGM. With City & Guilds accreditation we are hoping for serious growth in 2016 and beyond. Our accreditation process should be completed in January 2016 when we have a final verification visit from City & Guilds.
As the new consumer legislation comes into force today, TrustMark, the only Government endorsed scheme for all trades in and around the home, today announced a new ‘primary authority’ partnership with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards to provide assured advice for it’s Scheme Operators and TrustMark registered firms.
The collaboration will enable TrustMark to obtain trustworthy regulatory advice on any consumer issues relevant to the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector and, where required, develop bespoke information for the TrustMark registered firms. The first project is already underway, drafting joint guidance on the new Consumer Rights Act 2015, which will be available shortly.
TrustMark is also offering more protection to consumers with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), another significant consumer law change which is coming into force today. By being an approved ADR provider, TrustMark’s Scheme Operators and registered firms are now compliant with these new requirements and have the option to offer their customers a clear, simple and low cost dispute resolution alternative to formal legal action should things go wrong. This will be available for contracts to the value of £100,000 and both parties will be able to use the service as a ‘pay as you go’ with no annual fee or costs.
Freeview Play, the next-generation of the UK’s biggest TV platform, will launch in October, Freeview and Digital UK have announced in a press release. Freeview Play combines catch-up TV from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 – (with Demand 5 coming soon) and live television to make watching what you want, when you want as easy as possible. The service is free from subscription and will work with existing broadband connections. Viewers will be able to add Freeview Play to their existing TVs via digital recorders from manufacturers including Humax, Manhattan and Vestel. Panasonic are first to offer the new connected service with compatible TVs already on sale - also introducing recorders and Blu-ray players at a later date. Freeview will unveil a new TV advertising campaign to support the launch in the coming weeks.