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Have I Got News For
(no, the Series Link didn't work!)
By Callum MacFarlane |
6 June 2003
This viewpoint article is linked to
this News story
It could have
been a funny discussion on the highly successful quiz show "Why were users of
the Sky+ system up in arms last month?", with Paul Merton suggesting Magic 6ft
rabbits and the price of cheese as contributory factors. But of course the host
of the quiz would have to tell him he was wrong. The correct answer is much
The reason (in
this instance) that Series Links didn't work was because of "human error" i.e.
"the linking code was double entered".
Now before we dive
off into "super complaint mode" it must be acknowledged that the BBC work very
hard at setting up and keeping up to date the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
information that Sky & Sky+ viewers both depend on.
The number of Series Links used by the BBC is to be applauded and
encouraged. The BBC obviously realise the importance and necessity of proper
EPG data and setting up of Sky Series Links for their own
Despite the BBC's best endeavours, they still
manage to get it wrong on occasion. How often they get it wrong it a matter of
The "Have I Got News For You" debacle was run
over a number of weeks (a 4 week period), where the Series Link failed to be
setup by the BBC - 3 times. This was despite the Series Link being selectable
for the viewer and apparently being accepted into the EPG.
Any "normal Sky+ viewer" would suppose that the recording of this top
rated BBC programme would be assured. But of course, with hindsight, we now
know differently. So did the BBC spot their mistake straight away? "No" seems
to be the answer as problems with "Have I Got New For You" Series Links
The responder at the BBC who was good enough to
give a reply, pointedly did not mention that it wouldn't or couldn't happen
again. He gave a genuine apology, and left it at that.
So back to the big question:
Why don't Sky Series
Links always work?
The answer is
1) The system does not have enough "checks
& balances" written into it to make it foolproof - and foolproof is the
appropriate term, because for many Sky+ users the simplicity and power of Sky+
to ensure that viewers "Never Miss A Thing" was the reason that they bought
this value added premium service called Sky+.
2) The recent "improvement" to the Sky Series Links delivered to Sky+
units as a software upgrade was supposed to "strengthen the Series Link
functionality". This makes the failure of programmes such as "Have I Got News
for You" all the more frustrating.
3) Without a "Sky+
History file" to inspect on the users Sky+ unit to see if a Sky Series Link was
really set, users are unable to tell, who is to blame and why the fault occurs.
The Series Link entry gives the impression of just disappearing after the
current viewed recording with Series Link set is deleted. In actual fact the
new Series Link is never set because the matching programme ID for the next
episode cannot be found.
So what's to be done?
We would recommend 2 things
1) E-mail the BBC immediately if a BBC Series Link lets you down -
2) E-mail Sky at firstname.lastname@example.org and complain that
their Sky Series Link system is not "foolproof" and cannot be relied upon,
despite the broadcasters best efforts.
Ask them what they
plan to do to improve this "premium value added service" that customers pay
£10 per month for, to ensure that they "Never Miss A Thing" as the Sky
marketing and website proclaim.
In the meantime, enjoy the many things that do work on Sky+ and let's
hope that there is a rethink by Sky on making the marketing slogan a reality.