Monday, March 29, 2010

Digital switch is dogma, not choice

I'm not a fan of the digital broadcast revolution.

We did get Sky Digital early at the start of this millennium, but got rid of it as soon as we could following a year of varying quality of service - varying between appalling and abysmal. After a year of putting up with pixelating programmes and frozen screens that required a complicated reboot of the set top box we were only too glad to get rid of it.

Of course, we have Freeview now which is tolerable - but only because we don't pay for it. Anyone of my age will remember the frequent interruptions to television programmes caused by technological breakdowns, faulty transmitters and "atmospherics" in the sixties so we're fairly used to that sort of thing now.

It's just a shame that just as they'd got the kinks ironed out of analogue TV to the point where it was generally reliable they then decide to junk it for more troublesome technology. It also means we have a TV aerial that wouldn't look out of place atop a battleship superstructure, but at least it gives somewhere for the magpies to roost.

The switch to digital is supposed to be about more "choice". It's true that there are more TV channels to choose from, but they are all showing the same dross that the main five channels chuck out anyway - just repeated ad infinitum. They even seem to schedule the same dozen films again and again and again and again. How many times have they put Terminator 2 on in the last six months?

So digital TV has hardly brought more choice and I doubt that digital radio will either - but yet again we're not going to get the choice. They're just going to turn off analogue radio from 2015. The question is ...why?

This isn't driven by the market - it's driven by some government obsession with the digital revolution. Why can't they just let the market decide? If digital proves good enough then people will switch to it - if they don't then it's not appropriate to switch off the analogue choices.

If it was really about "choice" then they'd let the market decide.


Larry said...

It's not about choice. Look at the TV licence as an example. If there was true choice involved, we'd all be able to buy a telly and watch any channels other than the BBC without having to pay the licence fee. But we can't, not legally.

Don't worry Stan, I'm only 31 and I'm also becoming more of a Luddite every day that passes.

Stan said...

Ah, but I'm not a Luddite, Larry - I have no problems with technology if it brings improvements.

But if it doesn't - then what's the point?

I've seen no improvement in the quality of television I watch since we went digital - it has, if anything, got worse. What's the point of pin sharp definition if the programmes are still dross?

I'm opposed to technology for technology sake or change for change sake. If something works then why replace it with something that doesn't?

Sorry to bang on about it, but this is indicative of the progressive mindset. They are not interested in "progress" as in making things better - only in progress towards a specific goal.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

The point of digital radio is twofold:

1. Allow more rubbish channels to be shoehorned into the available bandwidth.

2. Permit the use of DRM so that you can't record stuff off the radio except how they want you to (ie not very often, not the most popular stuff, and for short-life or restricted replay only). This is the same as the digital/HDTV plan.

And no, it's nothing to do with choice or the market, as usual.

And of course, it will hardly work outside the M25. And the equipment will be much more complicated and expensive, and impossible to repair if it goes wrong (see under cars).

Just use the internet, that's what we do.

Until they find a way to make that complicated and difficult as well, of course.