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FrequencyCast UK - Show #25

The show notes to go with Show 25 of our online technology radio shows.

Listen to FrequencyCast Show 25

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Here's what we discussed in Show 25:

NEWS This show's news section covered the following stories:
  • United for Local TelevisionNational Local TV: Plans are being drawn up for "Channel 6" - a nationwide local TV service. The group United for Local Television is campaigning for a UK-wide network of local TV stations to fill the void in local TV news and content that's not being served by the BBC and ITV. Campaigners include local TV operators, voluntary organisations and media campaigners, and has the backing of 126 MPs. If successful, Channel 6 would launch on Freeview before the end of the 2012 Digital Switchover.

  • Five Life rename: Digital TV station Five Life is set to rebrand as "Fiver" from the end of April, aiming to be "younger, faster and louder".

  • The Phorm controversy: Phorm has done deals with Broadband providers BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk about collecting information about sites that consumers are viewing, and serve up adverts based on browsing habits, back to consumers.
    Phorm claims that no personal information or IP addresses will be collected, and that this type of activity is the right side of the law, but privacy and data protection campaigners aren't convinced, and neither is creator of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who wants ISPs to keep their hands off his data.
    Many are now referring to this practice as "Data pimping" - your ISP selling your browsing history off to a third party for advertising purposes. An online petition to Downing Street collected over 9,000 signatures in its first month from users concerned about Phorm and their privacy. You can sign it at Got a comment on Phorm? Go to our blog.

  • Digital radio update: We covered DAB digital radio news in depth in Show 24. As expected, theJazz fell silent on 31st March 2008. To keep Jazz fans happy, Classic FM will now carry two hours of Jazz per day. Also, Adult Contemporary music station Capital Life vanished in March, and the trial of forces station BFBS also finished in March. Planet Rock was also due to shut down in March, but the close-down deadline's been extended to the end of April, to allow the station to continue to find a buyer.

  • "Hello... I'm on a plane!": UK regulator Ofcom has given approval for use of mobile phones on planes. Phones will only be able to be used in European airspace, and planes will need to be kitted out with a pico-cell - a small mobile phone base station. This won't be happening until base stations are tested to ensure they don't interfere with navigation equipment, and how the service gets rolled out is down to individual airlines. Noise-cancelling headphones anyone?

  • Mobile Phone Backups: If you've ever lost your phone or deleted a vital number, this service is for you. Mobyko supports 200 different models of phones and backs up your phone's address book securely to space on the 'net. It works over-the-air so there's no mucking about with cables and PC software.
    The service works well, and best of all, it's free. Sign up at Photo upload and text message upload is reportedly coming soon.

  • iTunes news: BBC and Channel 4 have recently added a load of TV shows for download via iTunes. Episodes of Fonejacker, Torchwood, Skins and Life on Mars, as well as Lost Series 4 are available for £1.89 an episode. You can also get an entire series - the excellent Black Books is available for £7.99, or a series of Little Britain for a tenner. Cheaper than buying on DVD, and it's in an iPod-friendly format. TV shows available from Note that much of the Channel 4 content is available free with Channel 4's 4oD service.

  • And finally - Staying with the subject of downloadable TV shows... Away on business with her husband, a bored wife downloaded a couple of episodes of her favourite sitcom to her laptop, using a Mobile Internet connection. She was assuming she'd be able to download video as part of her Vodafone unlimited data tariff, but as she was in Germany, roaming, she was being charged over £4 a meg. Back in the UK, the bill for her to watch four episodes of Friends? Just over £11,000. Seems no-one told her life was gonna be that way...

Focus: Choosing a TV Pic of HD TV set In this show, Carl and Pete explored what to look for when buying a new TV. Topics covered included:
  • Types of TV (LCD vs Plasma vs DLP vs CRT)

  • Screen size

  • HD or not HD? ... that is the question

  • TV connectors

  • Digital TV and Freeview

  • Contrast ratio
For more on this topic, see our dedicated Buying a new TV page.

Audio Description

In March 2008, the RNIB mounted a campaign to raise awareness of Audio Description, the digital TV service that offers an audio commentary to aid the blind or partially-sighted when watching TV. In this show, we played the Audio Description radio commercial, which helps to demonstrate the concept of Audio Description.

Audio Description is an additional commentary which describes body language, expressions and movements, making the story clear through sound. It can transform the enjoyment of TV for people who have difficulty seeing what's happening on the screen.

Audio description is available on Sky Digital and Virgin Media set top boxes. It's also available on one or two Freeview boxes, notably the Logik LDR V3 and the TVonics MFR-300. Freeview Audio Description is also supported on the now obsolete Netgem iPlayers. Some TVs with a built-in Freeview receiver (known as an IDTV) support Audio Description, notably models from Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba.

You can find more information on Audio Description, including an updated list of equipment, on the RNIB site at the following link: RNIB Audio Description.


Thanks to everyone who got in touch. In this show, we respond to the following mails and calls:

  • AV Senders and Wi-fi? Chris Dilley asks "Do you know of any TV senders that do not suffer interference from wireless broadband routers? I wish to send TV from one room to another but currently get interference from my wireless internet router?" Wi-fi and video senders both operate in the 2.4GHz frequency band, as do baby monitors, doorbells and cordless phones, so interference isn't uncommon. A couple of options - Try changing the wi-fi channel number that your wireless router's using - there are 13 to choose from. Failing that, we've heard good reports about the Wireless A/V System from Gizoo, which has 4 selectable channels.

  • Virgin on Media Centre: We took a call asking how to connect Virgin to a Windows Media Centre. Yes - you can connect a Virgin Media V+ box to a Windows Media Centre. Your Media Centre will need a TV card, so it can handle the output from the V+ box. For best quality, look for a TV card that can accept a component or S-Video input, as it's better quality than the standard RF aerial input. It's pretty much the same process as "Getting TV on your PC", discussed in Show 18.

  • DAB+ Upgrade: Paul Stoneman says "The DAB news in show 24 made me think, would it be possible to upgrade to DAB+? I have a Pure DMX-50 which has the ability to upgrade its firmware. Is it just a case of firmware upgrade or does DAB Plus need new components? Sadly, it's all to do with the receiver module that decodes the DAB signal. For radios without a DAB+ module (including the DMX-50), it's not a software fix, although manufactures such as Pure may offer a "return to factory" module replacement - we'll have to wait and see.
    Paul also asked if FM radio will eventually be phased out? No immediate plans. Parts of the industry are lobbying for an FM switchoff date to be announced, to boost the switch to digital. Yes, it'll probably go at some point, but it's probably got a decade or so yet, at a minimum.

  • DAB Portables: Hi also to Col Atkins. He's only interested in lightweight Walkman style radios. None of the reviews of DAB portables he's read give comparisons of the receiver front end sensitivity i.e. sensitivity to weak signals. Why is this? This one stumped our Pete - It's the same with Freeview boxes and mobile phones. Manufacturers and reviewers are more interested in pushing features, not how good a phone is at being a phone, or how good a radio or TV receiver is at being a receiver. Our guess? Manufacturers don't reveal this info, as they don't want to advertise that their product is less good than a rival's. If you know of a site that compares DAB radio's sensitivity? Let us know.

  • BT Home HubHome Hub range: Iain Walters (AKA Stretch) has been in touch asking how to extend the range of his BT Home Hub. We did a special audio show covering the Home Hub, and looking at ways to extend the range. In that show we included some tips for extending the range.
    If they don't work, consider the Wireless G Range Extender from Maplin - more on our Wifi FAQ.

  • ProntoPage: Hi to Gordon Hall - he's added our RSS feed to a new service called, that lets you create a customized homepage with stacks of widgets - nice site.

  • Site recommendations: . Mobeen called to recommend some sites, and here are the links recommending the following sites: and

  • UK vs US Games Releases: We had a text in from Six Foot Squirrel asking why there's such a big gap between releasing a game in the US and over here. "I own a Wii and the US has just got Super Smash Brothers Brawl, but no UK date has been announced." There's a few reasons - In the UK, we use a different TV format, PAL, which needs to be handled differently. Also, games released in the EU require translation into different languages, plus additional testing. Then there's packaging changes, marketing and distribution. Add to that, that the big name producers are in the US, and there's a bigger market there, so games producers see faster revenue returns. The joys of living outside the US...

  • 3.5mm to 3.5mmBrian the Brain: We had a call asking how to connect an MP3 player to Brian the Brain. The answer... Connect a 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack lead from the MP3 player to Brian's Line in socket on the back, then say "Hey Brian.... " plus the word "Music". You can find a suitable lead at Maplin (Part: L29BA)

  • Tranquil Home Media Server: Hi to Richard Curtis, who pointed at us the Tranquil PC Home Media Server, £639 + VAT, plus £149 for an HD set-top box.

  • BT Vision Powerline: He's been using Homeplug Turbos on his home network. He's just got BT Vision and found that the he supplied powerline adapters aren't compatible. He's asked us to let our listeners know so they make the same mistake. Sadly, over-the-mains networking adapters often aren't compatible with rival products from other companies.

  • ChannelChooser: Thanks also to Mike for suggesting as a site that lets you watch a number of live TV channels from around the world.


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