Thursday, April 20, 2006

How to cope without British TV and Radio: Part III

Here's the third installment of Mark's TV/radio series of guest blogs:

This is the third in my series of posts on finding ways of getting access to British TV and radio when abroad (See How to cope without British TV and Radio and How to cope without British TV and Radio Part II. In those posts, I focused on two major areas, listening to BBC radio on-line (especially in Part 1) and watching BBC television on-line (particularly in Part 2). In this post, I would like to provide an update on some elements in those posts and then, in my next post, I will explore the world of podcasting.

First, the updates. A new programme has this week been added to the BBC News Player, and it's one that I have been hoping that they would add for a while, This Week [features Abbott & Portillo cozying up together on the sofa; not to be confused with Abbot & Costello (Ed.)]. I don't think that a live broadcast is available, but you can watch it as soon as it is available. Remember that to get the broadband quality for these programmes, you need to bookmark the BBC News Player, go to "Programmes" and then select from the list.

Second, I have recently bought a wire that connects my laptop to our television set and so now we can even watch these things on our TV, at a decent volume, and not just on the laptop. Finding the right wire is itself something of a kerfuffle, and it took a couple of stabs before I got it right. In the USA there is no equivalent of the scart lead in the UK, and you'll have to have separate inputs for video and audio. After examining my laptop and the TV, and googling for a little, I found a nice lead on-line that went from my laptop's external monitor outlet to the TV's PC inlet, and had an adjoining wire that went from the laptop's headphone socket to the TV's PC audio inlet. The problem was that the distance between the external monitor outlet socket and the audio socket on my laptop was too great, and I had to get an extension from Wal-Mart. But all's well that ends well and it's wonderful to be able to watch broadband broadcasting like This Week and Newsnight on the TV, a further step in feeling more at home. In addition, it's much more convenient not to have to put our various downloads onto CD before we can watch those on the telly. For things like the latest Dr Who, it was a matter simply of watching it straight off the laptop fed into the telly and not first burning to CD. My advice to others in a similar situation would be to explore the possibilities for getting your PC or your laptop joined up to your telly. One little bit of exploring for the right wire(s) is so worthwhile.

Third, in a comment to the previous post on the topic, Jonny G asked whether there was much in the way of non-BBC TV content available on-line. I would say that the BBC are way ahead of the competition here. The only other place I go to at the moment for broadband TV broadcasts is Channel 4. There have been rumours for some time of Channel 4 making available its entire channel content streamed on-line. The fullest and most recent article I can find on this is here, in Digital Bulletin last year:

Channel 4 to air all content on broadband"
by Jeremy Lee Campaign, 7 July 2005
LONDON - Viewers will be able to watch Channel 4 on their computers by the end of the year, with news that the broadcaster is planning to simulcast all of its TV content via broadband.

At present, Channel 4 restricts its broadband content to repeats of shows such as 'Trick of the Mind', 'Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot' and 'Jamie's School Dinners'.

However, the broadcaster is planning to make its entire schedule broadband-enabled and transmit its programming over the internet at the same time as the TV feed, via the website . . . .
Several months into 2006 and there's no sign of this yet, but I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open. Any chance you could get this up and running before this year's Big Brother, Channel 4?

But in the meantime, Channel 4 do have a whole section of their website devoted to Broadband video clips:

Channel 4 Video

Most of the site offers clips of Channel 4 programmes, previews and the like, but also included is this on-line movie show:

Movie Rush

This programme earns its way by linking minute - minute and a half features with Stella Artois ads. You can't launch it in a stand-alone player, but a right click on screen will allow full screen view. Also worth a mention is the Channel 4 News website, which provides a decent number of news reports taken from the programme:

Top 10 Video Clips -- News

But what the site does not yet have, and what would be particularly welcome, would be something paralleling the BBC News Player, which allows you not only to view these short reports but also to watch entire programmes. I do miss Channel 4 News at 7 each evening, so I look forward to the day when, perhaps, this will be available too. In the meantime, though, there is a new podcast presented by Jon Snow:

Jon Snow's Podcasts

And speaking of podcasts, that will be the topic of How to cope without British TV and Video Part IV.


Keris said...

Hi there. I'm writing an article for a British magazine about expat bloggers. Your site is exactly what I'm looking for and I'd love to ask you a few questions.

Could you please email me asap at Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Emily, what about this?

The sample feeds played fine on my computer. Have you tried this site yet?