Ian Burrell: Will YouView catch the eye in such a crowded TV market?

Media Studies: Much is riding on it, seven partner organisations are going to invest more than £16m each in the system

On Wednesday, Lord Sugar will be unveiling the chronically-delayed YouView internet television service. If the £115m project had been a task for his apprentices, then those who have failed to get the product to market in time for the showcase of the London Olympics would surely have been fired.

YouView, we were informed when it launched in 2010, would be the living room box that changed everything. It would allow us to scroll backwards for a week on our programme menus, as well as forwards, and offer interaction with social media sites. YouView would have "bleeding-edge technology" and a "massive range of content", the CEO, Richard Halton, told me during a guided tour two year ago.

We were led to expect channels from a host of new internet broadcasters, ranging from arts organisations to charities, and we were promised the service would be available from last summer.

In fact, the reveal this week feels like a panicky attempt to tell the public that YouView is "nearly there", but it won't be over the line in time for the most important British digital broadcasting opportunity of them all. The BBC announced last week that it will stream 24 channels of Olympics content on Facebook, the first time the broadcaster has partnered with the social-media giant in this way.

Meanwhile, Apple TV already offers television, films, YouTube streaming and all the content from your other Apple devices for £99. Smart TV providers such as Samsung give access to the BBC iPlayer, YouTube and key film providers Netflix and Lovefilm. Sky will launch its NOW TV internet television brand imminently. Virgin Media, which is planning something similar, already provides most of the key features that YouView will offer.

Into this very crowded market, YouView will emerge this autumn with a price tag of £200 for the box but no charge for its basic service. Its core market will be the 20 million households who currently take the free-to-air Freeview service. Lord Sugar, who is chairman of YouView, will not be amused by news that millions of Freeview customers face bills of up to £212 for installing filter equipment to protect their television signals from interference caused by the 4G mobile network that is due to launch next year.

Much is riding on YouView. The seven partner organisations (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT Vision, Talk Talk and Arqiva) are expected to invest more than £16m each in the system.

But the exciting talk of two years ago seems to have gone. YouView will not be capable of searching the internet and it will launch without the presence of those non-traditional broadcasters who could revolutionise the viewing experience. Social interaction and obscure content are pleasures that YouView customers must enjoy on the second screen of a mobile or tablet. "We don't see any evidence that customers really want to search the Internet on their telly, they have got other devices they can do that with," Marc Watson, CEO of BT Vision and a YouView board member, told me last week.

Instead, the marketing message will concentrate on YouView's simplicity of use and the final weeks to launch will be spent on improving the speed of navigation of its extensive library of around 20,000 programmes from the major broadcasters, plus film and music services. Users will be able to scroll backwards and forwards through the channel guide and watch programmes recommended for them on the basis of their viewing habits.

"The thing that we thought was very important was that this remains a television experience," said Watson. "We wanted to make this as unintrusive as possible."

When it finally arrives, YouView will inevitably be televised but it will hardly be a revolution.

Hobsbawm's rise highlights a lack of women in the top jobs

Having been made the inaugural "Professor in Networking" at the Cass Business School, Julia Hobsbawm was on Friday named as "Media Woman of the Year" by Real Business magazine.

While this is a great accolade for London's finest salonnière, it highlights the lack of women at the top of the British news media in 2012.

The loss, for diverse reasons, of News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, Trinity Mirror boss Sly Bailey and long-standing Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver has shorn national newspapers of their biggest female stars.

Only Dawn Neesom, editor of the Daily Star, and the newly appointed Sarah Sands at the London Evening Standard occupy senior roles.

The commercial broadcasters are all run by men and it is looking unlikely that we will be getting our first female director general of the BBC, in spite of Caroline Thomson, the chief operating officer, and Helen Boaden, director of news, being among the early front-runners.

It's not as if women have not been doing cutting-edge journalism. the past year has seen stunning bravery from the likes of Alex Crawford (Sky News), Lindsey Hilsum (Channel 4 News) and the late Marie Colvin (Sunday Times). Among the best investigative reporters of the moment are Claire Newell and Holly Watt (Daily Telegraph), The Guardian 's Amelia Hill, and Melanie Newman at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

No doubt Hobsbawm and her editorial intelligence networking organisation will be addressing such issues on Thursday when they examine the gender balance of commentators in the media at a debate called "Gender Commentaria". It will, at least, be an opportunity to schmooze.


* "A little lock up in Islington where a number of people with a record player are trying to make each other laugh all day." That was how the editor of The Word, Mark Ellen, described his music magazine when I visited it five years ago.

Back then he was enthusing about the potential of podcasts and the enduring appetite of readers for the fine writing of his team of "silver-haired old rock bores". But now "dramatic changes in the media and the music business" have caused the magazine to close after nine years.

The turntable on the record player has ceased to revolve and the laughter has stopped.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
voicesBryony Beynon: This is something every woman can relate to
Arts and Entertainment

Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
Life and Style
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is reported to be in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange for Marvel although the casting has not yet been confirmed
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
Life and Style

World Beard and Moustache Championships held last week

Arts and Entertainment
Copycat culture: the Chateau Zhang Laffitte in China, top, and the building which inspired it, in Paris, bottom
architectureReplicas of Western landmarks are springing up in unlikely places
Rolando Aarons watches as his effort finds the corner of the Manchester City goal to give Newcastle the lead
footballManchester City 0 Newcastle 2: Holders crash out on home turf
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Senior Developer/Development Lead - C# ASP.NET. SQL

Circa £55,000: Ashdown Group: Lead Developer requirement - C#, ASP.NET, SQL - ...

DFA Ad Operations Manager

38,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: My client is an agency that handles the me...

Display Sales Executive

Up to £35k + Bonus: Sphere Digital Recruitment: We are looking for a fantastic...

Creative Designer

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Creative Designer is needed to join an idea...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain