Freeview loves the NBN, is looking into IPTV and has a new EPG

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: It was an afternoon of interesting revelations yesterday, as Freeview outlined its second phase strategy for continuing to promote the interests of free-to-air television. The organisation, which has been branded a glorified lobby-group, has been less visible in 2010 than last year, but it’s actually come up with its best ever development.

Called the Freeview Electronic Program Guide, and available on a range of compatible set-top boxes and PVRs from a range of suppliers, this EPG differentiates itself from competitors by guaranteeing to record every second of a program, no matter what time its starts or finishes. Unlike Foxtel’s IQ2, non-Freeview PVRs and even TiVo, this EPG works not off the time the show is listed to start and finish, but on a signal sent to the box by the broadcasters.

Freeview CEO Robin Parkes said this system, called CRID (Content Reference Indicator) has so separated Freeview from the pack, that even one of its most ardent early supporters, Hybrid TV, is not able to badge its products with the new Freeview logo.

The second revelation from Parkes is that Freeview is currently investigating IPTV options, though it hasn’t yet spoken to any internet service providers (ISPs) about partnerships. Parkes said being able to deliver unmetered content, such as Foxtel On Demand through BigPond, was necessary to provide consumers with accessible and financially viable internet content.

Parkes said she hoped the NBN would provide a solution to this, before declaring that Freeview as an organisation was pro-NBN.

Thirdly, and least surprisingly, Freeview will be running a saturation advertising campaign promoting its interests across all free TV networks this summer. The new TVC is different from previous iterations, with the focus shifting from great free-to-air TV moments, to the individual’s desire for free TV. Whilst the last campaign was criticised for airing quasi-commercial messages on the national broadcaster, the good news for retailers is that is does provide encourage for consumers to visit stores to ask questions and buy products.

And, finally, this event was held at a private function room in Sydney, not at a Dick Smith store. It seems Freeview only had to learn that lesson once.

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