As a founding member of Home Media Networks, Colin's aim is to change how people consume media in their home. Colin has extensive experience in the IT sector, and was one of the founders of The Internet Movie Database, sold to Amazon.com in 1998. Preamble: 'With reference to the Paying for BBC television service. Will there still be a requirement for a license-fee funded TV service in 15 years or will there even be a need for any broadcast services like we have today'.

HomeToys Interview

Colin Tinto | Home Media Networks

HomeToys Interview
Colin Tinto, Chief Technology Officer, Home Media Networks

As a founding member of Home Media Networks, Colin's aim is to change how people consume media in their home. Colin has extensive experience in the IT sector, and was one of the founders of The Internet Movie Database, sold to Amazon.com in 1998.

Preamble: 'With reference to the Paying for BBC television service. Will there still be a requirement for a license-fee funded TV service in 15 years or will there even be a need for any broadcast services like we have today'.


Q1: Is the licence fee an outdated method of financing?

No, I don't think so. If the BBC was funded in any other way, it would need to fill it's schedules with TV programmes that would appeal to the majority of people, rather the mix of popular and minority programmes it produces today. The BBC also spend a lot of money on developing new technology, and making that technology available to everyone in the UK. If the BBC was financed in any other way, commercial sense would discourage it from updating transmitters that only serve a few people in outlying areas.

Q2: What other financing options are available?

One option would be to allow commercials on the BBC TV and radio channels. UK viewers are used to advertising on most other TV channels, so might accept advertising on the BBC too. Another option would be to turn it into a subscription service, but historically the majority of the UK public have been against that model. The first terrestrial digital TV service failed as few people wanted to subscribe for extra channels. Neither of these options would ever raise enough cash to run the BBC in the same way it is today.

Q3: Should there ever be government funded broadcasters?

Personally I don't think there is a need for a government funded broadcaster. Firstly, they would have to be careful to appear unbiased, so may have to avoid news and political content. Secondly, they may offer 'public information' content, but few people would choose to watch something like a programme on healthy eating when their favourite soap is on the other channel.

Q4: How have television viewing habits changed over the years?

TV in the UK has moved quite quickly from 4 analog TV stations to potentially hundreds of digital stations. Years ago it wasn't unusual for a TV programme to have viewing numbers in 10s of millions - sometimes over 50% of the population would be watching the same TV show. That never happens now, with much more choice available, people tend to watch what they want, rather than the best they can find on one or two channels.

Q5: What effect do you think PVR's will have on advertising in the future?

Advertising will move away from it's current model more towards product placement, and even 'infomercial' style programmes. Already in the UK, some of the major new drama series are 'Sponsored' by big companies, who might have previously just had a commercial in the break. For now the sponsorship appears as lead ins before the commercials, but it won't be long before it works it's way into the programmes.

Q6: How will they PVR's penetrate the consumer market? Cable service providers, specialty system integrators, direct sales to consumers as hardware or software for their PC's or some other route?

The major driver for PVRs will be cable and satellite providers. Sky has shown this with its new Sky+ PVR system, and DirecTV in the US are also pushing PVRs to consumers. The next level down from that will be direct to consumers. Whether they are CE devices or PC based devices probably won't matter in the end. System integrators may play a part initially but as the technology matures and becomes easier to install and use they will not be necessary.

Q7: Do you think that skipping through the ads will accelerate the emergence of targeted ads derived from a profile of a consumer and their weekly viewing habits?

It may do, but if PVRs have the ability to force people to watch targeted ads, then they will also have the ability to force people to watch normal ads - a much simpler solution.

Q8: Do you think Video on Demand TV is a possibility for the future?

VOD has been on the horizon for such a long time, but now it looks like it's closer than ever. Bandwidth to the home, whether it's Satellite, Cable, digital terrestrial or broadband, is increasing, and the major cable companies in the UK also offer broadband. When speeds reach 2Mbits and above, we might start to see companies offering some sort of TV on demand system. It may depend on how successful some of the new 'Music on demand' services are, e.g. Napster, with their subscription model that allows you to listen to music online as often as you want. It may also depend on how quickly licensing issues can be sorted out.

Q9: What other technologies are on the horizon that could change the way we select and view television?

As mentioned above, some sort of TV on demand system would remove the need to be tied to schedules, in a similar way to the PVR. As for watching TV, portable media players, and phones or PDAs with video playback capabilities will allow people to watch recorded TV on the move, and eventually even live TV.

Home Media Networks
Home Media Networks Ltd is a company focused on the fast growing digital entertainment sector, producing software that runs on standard PC platforms to allow the user to watch, record and pause analogue and digital TV, play DVDs, and listen to MP3 music files. Its solution, ShowShifter, allows the user to pause a TV show to be replayed later and can be controlled remotely using a standard infrared remote control. Through unique FarView technology interaction works equally well close up or at a distance from the screen. Showshifter is a replacement for TV, VCR, DVD and CD players in a traditional household, thus introducing numerous cost savings for the consumer. Home Media Networks Ltd is headquartered in Edinburgh, UK.


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