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OT: FTA, Freeview & terrestial discussion
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Joined: 10 Jan 2006
Posts: 26
Location: London

PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Robman wrote:
I left the UK in 1988, so things have undoubtedly changed since then, but I'm pretty sure that you only had to pay the licence fee if you actually watched the BBC. If you bought a TV just so you could play video tapes or to watch ITV or CH4, I think you were OK without the licence.

That's why the detector vans could not only detect the presence of a TV but also what channel it was tuned to.

Of course in the early days of TV there was only the BBC and no such thing as video tapes.
Very Happy
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Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 874
Location: UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was growing up, our school was black-and-white except for rich kids. It only became colour shortly before I left in 1987. Of course, in those days you could go to a football match, catch the bus home, eat fish and chips (not scampi and potato crisps - search for earlier posting by the Robman) buy 1 worth of sweeties and still have change left from a ten-bob note.
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Joined: 20 Feb 2004
Posts: 279

PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Freeview is a sevice in the UK built from the remnants of a failed terrestrial pay service, and is basically used to describe any digital OTA TV there, kinda like USDTV was in the US, except Freeview is mostly national in the UK, due to its small size, and the lesser penetration of cable, and yes, subsidy from the TV license fees (AFAIK).

In the US (and Canada), the TV lanscape is very different, with each TV station doing their own digital OTA thing, which usually is a primary HD channel, and a secnodary or more SD channel, or a suite of 6 or more SD channels. They do that because of market segmentation.

Much of the population is either cabled or has satellite TV, hence the slow growth of digital OTA, and with cable being penetrated for a good while, it is hard for an upcoming service to compete with cable and satellite, especially for free, when the content, or at least branding, is on cable/pay satellite.

FTA is really just satellite, not OTA. The nearest short acronym for digital OTA in the USA is ATSC.

For STBs:

Universal Cable boxes are a big lie, pretty well. They are nothing more than boxes people use (or have used) to steal pay cable, for there is no defensible legitimate use for those boxes.

FTA boxes:
For the past 10 years or so, they have been quietly enjoyed (in the US) by the TVR hobbyist community.
When summer of 2004 hit, hacks were released that allow imported DVB-FTA satellite receivers to be used to steal certain pay satellite services, and with the shut down of the pirate cards for another service, piracy of the other services took off including the majority of the growth of the import FTA receiver market, which is primarily aimed at pay TV thieves, with the genuine TVRO hobbyists now a small portion of the whole FTA satellite market.
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Joined: 14 Sep 2003
Posts: 70
Location: Fayetteville AR USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 6:43 pm    Post subject: BBC vs. PBS Reply with quote

After all this talk of license fees, roving TV death squads and thousand-quid fines, having a PBS pledge drive twice a year doesn't sound so bad. Smile Of course, the commercials on the other channels are awful...

Returning to the original subject, I had surmised that "universal cable box" meant either:

(A) a simple analog (NTSC for us Yanks) cable TV tuner (not a descrambler), used with an older, non-cable-ready TV (very common in the 80s and early 90s), or

(B) a digital cable STB, used with all analog TVs and many first-generation digital (HD)TVs which don't have CableCard capability. You would still need a CableCard or similar authorization device from your local cable provider to use this.

As for illegal pay-TV descramblers (cable or satellite), these used to be called "black boxes," AFAIR...they may be called "crack cards" or "black cards" now, probably.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The basic cable tuners are called convertors. They have no way to access scrambled pay programming themselves.

A cable box is one that has the circuitry to decode scrambled channels

The analog universal boxes are convertors that also contain the circuitry to decode cable channels, but they work on a number of scrambling schemes, and without control of the cable company, which makes them pirate devices.
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