18 October 2005

Reticulation of satellite and terrestrial television

Thirty-four channels and counting...

Digital reticulation of live television broadcasts from satellite and terrestrial services over the University’s computer network is moving ahead apace: at least on the backend. Twenty services are now being streamed live from Building 20, and depending on the state of the University’s network can be received across campus using VLC. VLC is free software for Macintosh or Windows that can be downloaded and installed by any user with administrative privileges on their computer.

Any relatively new computer on the campus network is now theoretically capable of seeing any of the twenty channels without needing any additional hardware: to hear the sound there needs to be some speakers on the computer, for the best sound external speakers will be needed.

Services are not available beyond the boundary of the University network for copyright and licensing reasons, as well as the need to manage network traffic to other institutions.

For details on how to “tune in” to the services using your desktop computer, see the instructions on the project’s website at http://uctv.canberra.edu.au/campus-channels.

Soon it will be possible to receive the current channel list automatically when VLC is launched. What is missing is a comprehensive program guide detailing what programs go to air when. There are significant issues with providing a comprehensive program guide: in Australia the information is not made available freely for anyone to use, internationally there is no single source of program data, and time zones and language make data for services on individual channels sometimes difficult to interpret even when it can be found.

We don’t have a way of automatically scheduling recording the live digital streams yet, or making them available for replay and editing: this is the next stage of the project. In the meantime, many people, especially Languages staff, can record, simply edit and use video recorded from the analogue network completed earlier this year.