ITV fails to slow down PVR speeds and halt ‘skipping’

ITV has failed to have restrictions put on playback speeds offered by the forthcoming Freeview-branded personal video recorders (PVRs).

The Freeview Playback equipment was announced in May and will compete with BSkyB’s Sky service, which allows viewers to record programmes on a hard drive, pause live TV and access electronic programme guides.

ITV had argued that Freeview Playback boxes should be able to fast-forward at a maximum of 16 times the normal playback speed. BSkyB’s Sky fast-forwards at 32 times the norm, while other PVR systems offer up to 64 times.

The broadcaster is part of the consortium that runs DTV Services, the company formed to market Freeview. The BBC, BSkyB, National Grid Wireless and Channel 4 make up the other shareholders.

A source says ITV had wanted to restrict the speed at which users can fast-forward through recorded ad breaks because of concerns over falling advertising revenues on its flagship ITV1 channel.

However, an ITV spokeswoman says the broadcaster is now “happy” with all aspects of Freeview Playback, along with other DTV Services members.

Freeview had hoped to launch the PVRs in time for Christmas. However, marketing has now been pushed back until the first quarter of next year at the earliest.

The decision follows suggestions that manufacturers are struggling to match the technical requirements needed for the Freeview box. Freeview is hopeful that some branded products will be available for Christmas.

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