Monday, June 30, 2008

BBC World News - yanked from Amsterdam cable

The city of Amsterdam is trying for another first. It seems that from tomorrow, Amsterdam will be the first European capital city to not have BBC World TV News on the cable network. UPC, which runs the cable system, is going to replace BBC World News with Animal Planet, banning the Beeb to a channel behind its (expensive) digital decoder. Whilst it makes a lot of sense to migrate these kinds of channels behind a set-top box at some point in the future - the penetration of set-top boxes in the Netherlands is way too low at the moment. It is clearly much too early to be messing with the diversity of programmes on offer. As things stand now, most of the hotels in Amsterdam as well as 80% of the population will lose BBC News from cable as from July 1st.

I spoke with the BBC's representative in the Netherlands to find out why we all didn't get any warning of this in advance. But it seems this decision by the cable company UPC has only been taken in the last couple of weeks, as Animal Planet has negotiated national analogue coverage for itself. So we have another global first - an analogue switch off plan that lasts less than a fortnight!

I do hope that protests from the public will be heard once they realise the channel has gone, just like the time 10 years ago when the same cable system tried to take CNN off the cable. How can Amsterdam claim to be a (new) media centre in Europe if it messes around with the media is such a haphazard way? Bonkers!


Anonymous said...

Absolute bastards.... how you force us to buy more of your product. Upc should be reported to the EU commision on fair trade. We have only shitty cnn for world news now unless we pay more.What is that message to the international Amsterdam community and our visitors.
UPC suck.

Anonymous said...

UPC are profit mongers forcing people to switch to digital. Remember when cable came.. all the talk... less adds etc. Now all I see on UPC after midnight is bad advertising for the sexually frustrated.
Bad quality and bad service from UPC and bad program choices. Anyone out there know of a decent internet TV provider?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment on Amsterdam media centre. Thanks for working with us UPC. You guys have too much control for your own good!!!. Animal Planet instead of BBC world~!!. Unbelievable. What planet are you on? Oh thats right... a cash cow planet!!
Cash cash cash ... UPC are only init for the cash. And the programmers are obviously not in the real world... or dont care what its doing.... or being paid by CNN. Lets find out shall we. Thanks again UPC... first you send me digital with all the bits ... and I never ordered it.. then you tried to charge me even when I sent all your tech. back. And so now your answer is to force us all into your digital package instead through other methods. MMMMM . Dishonest!

Anonymous said...

Its horrible! And no warning at all, or time to protest. I couldnt find anything at their website and now after 15 minutes this is the first comment about it I find on the internet.

Anonymous said...

BBC World was program 1 on my tv set, the only decent news channel in the otherwise dumb and wasteful analogue dutch TV offer, both for dutch or foreign channels. Today I turn on TV and see dogs barking. UPC does nothing else but show the real shitty dutch nature: hypocrite, careless, attached to money, incompetent, wasteful (why stupid 'political' empty channels like Salto1-2?) and why not: stupid, if they think animals will be followed more than bbc. I am guest here and am no client of UPC since 2001 and will never ever be again customer of UPC nor any other fraudulent, low service, low quality dutch company, as many are.

Anonymous said...

I have to get rid of upc,
no bandwith for classical music on fm. No BBC world.!!!
In every important city in the world there is that onliest decent newsstation.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that the BBC has been defeat with their own weapons...

Animal Planet is owned for 50 % by...BBC Worldwide!!!

Anyway BBC World News already dissappeared analogue in a lot of Ziggo-places including Amstelveen which is just over the border of Amsterdam. Back then also a lot of protests...

Anyway Amsterdam has now the cultural European channel ARTE back...

PS> Cable in some European capitals has no meaning....but I admit e.g. in ROME (and almost entire Italy!) you can watch BBC World News FREE TO AIR without any cost! How? On DVB-T, digital terrestrially as Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset hosts BBC World News on its capacity!

PS2> BBC World News remains FREE TO AIR on satellite!

PS3> Haven't noticed must protests now...BBC One & BBC Two are still on analogue cable! (you forgot mentioning!)

Jonathan Marks said...

It will all go digital eventually. My main point is that it seems daft that they do this so quickly. BBC 1 and 2 are fine channels, but in hotels I think most people want rolling news services.

Anonymous said...

1) The domestic cable-offer is not principally made for hotelservices!
2) Hotels can always add analogue by making a deal with BBC World News to distribute its channel in the rooms by receiving the channel directly from satellite....(this happens as far as I know in a lot of cities in Europe and beyound)

Jonathan Marks said...

Hi David. Not sure I understand you're point. Are there any hotels in Amsterdam that add to the cable offering, apart from on-demand movies? Most just pipe through the Free to Air Channels from analogue cable. Perhaps the bigger issue is Holland's unique system of public censors who decide who can see what? The sooner digital technology makes that obsolete the better.

Anonymous said...

The loss of the world's best television news service on the standard cable package in a so-called world-class city is indeed bizarre, to say the least.

Some years ago, I made the attempt to go with UPC's digital box. After two different "media boxes" and a number of visits by two different UPC technicians, UPC was unable to get the box to work correctly, even with their final "fix" of yanking the plug and waiting 30 seconds every time the box failed (a number of times a day). Finally, I had them remove the box and restore regular cable service.

So today I went to the UPC website to try and locate a UPC email address. Try and find the "Contact" web page from their web suite (it is international convention on websites to list the Contact information link from the home page. Not with UPC!). It is adequately hidden, and yet when found, you still get no email address, only a form.

Is there an alternative to UPC without being forced to buy their digital service?

Does anyone know how and where I contact UPC to make my protest heard?

Keeping up with the world's events is not going to be easy from Amsterdam. Ever compared Dutch television WORLD news with the exceptional quality provided by BBC World? And this is not a case of me being British. I am not, and my Dutch partner is not either. We rely on BBC World every day.

Thanks to anyone who can provide us with the appropriate contact information with whom to lodge a complaint with UPC. And to anyone who can suggest an alternative service that will give us what we want.

Thanks everyone.


Anonymous said...

Jonathan: my point is that you seem to focus on hotels in your articles, while normal cablesubscribtions are not targetted to hotels. If hotels were doing it officially I think they even have to ask permission for redistributing tv-channels as normal cablecontracts and tv-channelcontractdistribution is not intended for commercial-re-use.

And if hotels want they can (illegally) always add manually BBC World News in the analogue offer...(that was my second remark)

Indeed the bigger issue is who decide what's on cable. Well?! That's for the first 15 tv-channels the programmecouncils and the rest is up to the cablecompanies.

Anyway more then 25 % of UPC-subscribers have UPC Digital...

Anonymous said...

over here in Rotterdam in the centre I can see the Savoy Hotel, they have Big Satellite Dishes on their roof and provide their own channels... BBC World has in the past years (!) been off and on and off and on the Rotterdam or Amsterdam analogue network. This happens because of the programmaraad. Sometimes UPC is forced to pick up analogue broadcasts again like TVE in Rotterdam. The programmaraad does not consider any technical developments.

I don't see a big problem as it is on digital and free to air on satellite (no, BBC World is NOG anymore on DVB-T/Digitenne in NL!!). What bothers me more is the fact that TV5 Monde is gone completely in many regions, no analogue signal (yes, still in Rotterdam and Amsterdam) and no digital channel either! UPC Digital carries NO French tv. (except maybe for classical music TV Mezzo and partially the second audio channel on Arte). How about that?!

Anonymous said...

UPC are complete bastards as well as being totally incompetent. I got rid of them more than a year ago (after a legal battle as a result of them trying to tell me I owed them €100s (a not uncommon occurrence here),and frankly wouldn't go with them again if THEY paid ME - I'd rather be without a telly at all. I don't watch it that much anyway...

Alas, I have only just found out about this though, as I was gearing up to watch the US elections and looking forward to following them on BBC World rather than CNN (which irritates me after a while).

For dedicated viewers however, you can download Livestation onto your pc on which - hoorah! - is BBC World (as well as about 1000 other stations). It's sent out by Skinkers, the same guys who do the BBC Alerts. and although still in beta, is pretty damn good. So...I shall be following and viewing the elections from behind my pc - ah well, better than nothing, eh?

Take a look Here: