back to article ITV catches up with TVCatchup

Rebroadcasting copped a hit in Europe, with the Fourth Chamber of the European Court of Justice deciding that TVCatchup is infringing on ITV's copyright. The case was taken to the European beaks in 2011, on a referral from Britain's High Court. ITV had complained that TVCatchup was infringing its copyright by providing an …


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  1. Timmay

    Instead of fighting a service for which there is obviously big demand, why can't the channels either embrace it, or at least come up with their own means to watch live telly in this manner - whether it's on computers, mobiles, tablets, etc? Same old story, same as the music industry.

    1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Some do..

      The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 already provide live streams.

      They just don't do it on a unified site..

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Some do..

        They also don't do it on as many different devices as TVCatchup does.

        I think there should be some kind of Freeview-like streaming service featuring all the Freeview channels, there's evidently more demand for it than the current piecemeal approach favoured by the broadcasters, and it would bring broadcast TV to those unable to get Freeview and unwilling to have a satellite dish (not to mention mobile devices). If there was a standard, manufacturers could sell set-top boxes supporting it to bring it to the masses. What exactly is the problem with doing this? TVCatchup have demonstrated the technical feasibility so the only barriers must be the broadcasters themselves.

      2. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: They just don't do it on a unified site..

        As I recall it, the BBC had just such a proposal which was stamped on by either competition or regulatory authorities. Project Kangaroo, I think.

        Ah yes,

        1. dotdavid

          Re: They just don't do it on a unified site..

          That report seems to be more about VOD/catch-up services. What's to stop an additional broadcast mechanism (i.e. IP) being standardised for the Freeview broadcasters like TVCatchup, despite their misleading name*, currently does?

          (* yes I know they used to offer catch-up TV until shot down in court)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some do..

        That's a massive over-simplification Stuart! What if you're travelling outside the UK and want to use a catch-up service because you missed your favourite TV programme on the beeb...?

        If you're overseas you're completely BLOCKED and lose all rights to BBC iPlayer etc. This applies also to customers of BBC ITV & Channel 4 who receive TV via FTA or Sky, as they also have no access to BBC iPlayer i.e. customers in Eire!

        So BBC iPlayer etc often leaves a gaping hole, one the beeb seem unable to address even by using GEO IP analysis. Yes, you can use a pay-for-proxy service from overseas, but there are reports it doesn't always work!

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some do..

          Yeah that really gets my goat. Why they can't allow it to be accessed by those of us in ROI is beyond me when we can officially get all the UK content on satellite. Content on RTE player is available internationally for some of it's home grown programs. Sure we don't pay a TV licence fee to the BBC directly (as no doubt will be mentioned) but as I have Sky, some of my subscription is paid to the BBC to allow it to be on the Irish Sky EPG. - Yes I know all the UK PSBs are available FTA ... Anyhow we should really be able to view 'some' of the BBC content online without resorting to 'other' methods.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Some do..

            The BBC have been sitting on their hands on this for years refusing to take a decision...

            This just fuels people seeking out their own solutions including torrents.

            It is this contradiction of inter-operability that baffles me. Its no different from paying for a music or movie service but then finding you can only play it on your desktop and not your phone or vice versa....

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Some do.. @Danbo

            You wanted independence in the ROI, you can't have it both ways.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some do.. @AC 10:55 GMT

          "Yes, you can use a pay-for-proxy service from overseas, but there are reports it doesn't always work!"

          That's why when I'm abroad I VPN into my home firewall and get an IP address from my public IP range - job done. Appreciate that it isn't an option that everybody is technically capable of doing - but doing a little research may bear fruit for those willing to learn.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Why don't they get their act together and offer Youview over the Internet ? A small outfit like TVcatchup is able to do it so why can't the combined might of the the British TV media do it ?

  2. pixl97

    Yarr Matey

    What ever you do, don't give the customers what they want.

    We will instead.

    Thank You

    The Pirate Bay.

  3. markw:


    This is a very useful service.

    It is rebroadcasting all the content including ads to extra viewers. Exactly how is ITV losing out?

    1. GregC

      Re: Why?

      Presumably ITV would argue that TVCatchup are serving up their own ads (I'm assuming they still are, haven't used it for ages) as well as the ITV ones, therefore profiting from the ITV content without ponying up. Up to you what you think of that argument, up to the court to decide if it's legal or not...

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Why?

        I can't say I begrudge TVCatchup from showing an advert prior to streaming ITV et al's content. After all, they're paying for the cost of the machinery and bandwidth used for streaming. Since they don't strip ITV's adverts from the feed, why would they even care - if anything more potential consumers get to see the ads they've sold making the channels more valuable to advertisers not less.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've been getting all my TV shows from various torrent sites for years.

    I cancelled my Satellite TV subscription service when it became redundant.

    1. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

      Re: Meh

      I still pay for cable simply on the bassis that even if I get the shows from torrent they still deserve to get a cut of the licensing. Basically I just timeshift it using a different method.

  6. James 47

    Tvcatchup only shows their own ads before a channel loads, all other ads are those broadcast by the channel you're watching. I don't see the problem. Also, it seems to stream at 360p at best so it's hardly in direct competition to aerial broadcasts.

    1. ACx

      No, not true. They surround their player with ads. Which, BTW, are really annoying.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK adverts on TV catchup sites

    It's sad to see that British TV adverts are even more crap than they are here.

    I especially hate the "pick a story" ads.

    When I VPN into a UK TV site, I don't want to see naff adverts !!

    It's just not right !!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK adverts on TV catchup sites

      Not sure where "here" is, but being quite widely travelled, I can confirm British TV is a league ahead of anything that the USA, Australia or Europe has to offer; and quite a number of other places as well. If there is a better public (or paid for) service in the world then I have yet to see it. By far the worst is American TV, closely followed by Australia imo.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UK adverts on TV catchup sites

        Oh dear, no.

        British TV is so dumbed-down and celebrity-driven it's almost unrecognisable from quality TV.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: UK adverts on TV catchup sites

          there are some good shows being put out. Not everything is reality TV atm. Just started watching bluestone 42 which is quite funny. Utopia was ok as was being human. Person of interest is a bit behind the US but is still watchable. Quite a few decent comedy shows too.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Arnie


    Pirates 1 - 0 ITV

  9. ed2020

    A different take.

    The TVC guys have a slightly different take on the verdict:

    1. Monty Burns

      Re: A different take.

      wow.... that is very different!

      Interesting point about Virgin/Sky also being in breach if TVC are......

  10. Dave 15 Silver badge

    the answer

    Surely the answer is for the current broadcasters to make their shows available. Youtube et al have tried but the broadcasters are making it damned difficult. Old programs are no longer available, and the stuff they broadcast today is crap.

    If the broadcasters made ALL their old material available on a website somewhere then they could control it, put advertising etc etc. Its not really that difficult. I might even find the rip off tv licence a little less annoying if I could go and find the old programs that I have already paid to have made and watch them again.

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    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. James R Grinter

      Re: the answer

      Unfortunately the prices the broadcasters pay for shows, even the ones they commission, factor in things like how many times they get to show them, how much it costs to show them again (performing rights can be an issue, too, there) and who has the rights for DVD distribution, foreign distribution, online, etc.

      For really old material, each production may have had entirely different contracts involved, and they may already have sold or licensed distribution rights to some other company.

  11. Arachnoid


    In essence the argument is that catch up TV is making income by advertising be it at the beginning or not,from another providers paid content.That would be like me plastering a big advert at no cost to myself and disregarding your protests, on the front of your house even though you have bought and paid for said home.

    Whilst it may be a service that millions [?] use it is still transmitting someone elses content without a license to do so and profiteering from the action.

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Down

      Re: Simples

      I think a better analogy would be that your house is a guesthouse and you only take bookings on the phone or in person. Someone else sets up a website, with advertising, that offers to let you book over the internet. They are profiting from your guesthouse, sure, but also providing a service that you're not providing to a group of people you're not providing for. It isn't really to your detriment at all apart from the fact that you could be making the money they are making from advertising yourself if you had your own internet booking website.

  12. Big_Ted

    ITV Live stream is a joke.....

    I have a 60 Meg VM sub and the quality on tvcatchup whilst not being the best is mile ahead of ITV, if ITV want me to strem from them then at least do better than the crap quality streamed now.

  13. Jon Gibbins

    The very existence of TVCatchup is proof that the TV channels didn't get it right in the first place, hence the need for TVCatchup.

  14. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The dinosaur broadcasters complaining because someone does a service better than they do.

    I don't see why it quite legal to broadcast the channel for free OTA yet TVcatchup are offering it through the internet (and only to UK IPs) yet they are breaking the law.

    I already have a TV license so if i want to watch a programme on freeview with my laptop rather than my TV i should be able to as the current 'legal' offering from BBC, ITV, Ch4, are not always upto scratch and some channels such as Dave not available online at all

    1. James 139

      When it comes right down to it, its nothing to do with taking the free OTA broadcast and sending it over the internet, its just down to ITV not knowing how many people are watching their shows.

      If they cant tell how many people are watching, and given that people watching via Freeview are estimated using statistical guessing, they cant tell how popular programs are.

      And if they cant tell how popular a program is, they cant figure out how much to charge for advertising slots.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        I'm sure if they ask nicely, TV Catchup will tell them exactly how many people are watching.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Freeview and viewing numbers

        "If they cant tell how many people are watching, and given that people watching via Freeview are estimated using statistical guessing, they cant tell how popular programs are."

        I would be highly surprised if the inclusion of ethernet ports i FreeviewHD wasn't done with an eye to allowing reporting at some point in the future, when the privacy implications are worked out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I already have a TV license so if i want to watch a programme on freeview with my laptop rather than my TV i should be able to

      So long as you are either at home or are not using a mains adaptor!

  15. reno79

    The thing that I dislike about all this (disregarding the fact that I don't see adverts on the app after rooting my tablet) is that I get p*** poor reception in my area, despite having a roof antenna and forking out over £100 last year to get it installed by a "verified" installation engineer (lots of people on my street suffer the same fate) so to me TVC are providing a service that none of the current broadcasters offer.

    I don't want to spend a small fortune to get a Virgin/Sky set top box for the small amount of TV that I do watch.

    I also think having to go to websites that are at the very least mobile device hostile (ITV, I'm staring squarely at you here) is counter-intuitive.

    Not everything is available on their "on demand" services and they wonder why people torrent...

    To me it just sounds like they are complaining because someone thought of it first and got it right.

  16. thesykes

    So, a quick test to see if I can ditch TVCatchup and use the "players" from the various broadcaster (Should they actually broadcast anything worth watching).

    This is on the relatively obscure device known as a Nexus 7, some of you may have heard of it.

    BBC iPlayer. Crashes the instant I click on play, on anything, video or radio

    ITV Player. Not compatible, in fact they list 5 devices that are. Surely the only people on Earth who make SkyGo look comprehensively supported

    4OD. No Live stream

    Demand 5. No mobile player? Certainly can't see an Android one. Not really a problem, as 5 does broadcast some crap.

    Sky. Sky Go. What can I say? A handful of devices supported on a limited number of versions of Android. Recent support for the Nexus 4 & 7 failed after a minor OS upgrade, Sky took two weeks to fix. Oh, and won't support rooted devices. The Sky Go On Android message board makes entertaining reading, if only as an example of how an incompetent company deals with customers.

    So, it seems that a relatively small company, with limited resources can produce a service that is far superior to those of the major broadcasting companies.

    Who'd have thought that?

  17. Danny Roberts 1
    Thumb Down

    I gave up on TVCatchup

    I stopped using TVC about 8 months ago, the amount of advertising made it unusable. It would play two 30s adverts and then fail to start the stream forcing a refresh and the same two 30s adverts.

    Has it got any better recently?

    1. mrmond

      Re: I gave up on TVCatchup

      I had that for a while. Turned out to be a Flash problem.

    2. the-it-slayer

      Re: I gave up on TVCatchup

      Two 30 second ads are better than four 30 second ads that you get on ITVs live stream service. Unfortunately the big TV companies (especially ITV) want more and more control. Same with the music industry, they aren't investing in providing the best service with the best tech out there. BBC at least make an effort to provide most of their services in a variety of formats for several devices and online. Even HD content of their programming. ITV just put out the bare minimum.

      Watching ITV online is like watching TV from the 80s is so garbled on full screen mode.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It was legal. It's stil legal.

    Nothing really changed. They show an advert before the stream starts then you see the same adverts that are shown as the live broadcast.

    You can't record the show so there is no PVR facility.

    ITV are still plonkers.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Cannot watch ...

    Keep getting this msg 'A Digital Rights error (3322) has occured`, BBC and ITV play ok ...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Who'd have thought that?

    "So, it seems that a relatively small company, with limited resources can produce a service that is far superior to those of the major broadcasting companies. Who'd have thought that?

    As someone else has already pointed out, the main satellite provider in the UK has demonstrated his displeasure at attempts by the terrestrial channels to move into online television. I suspect they limit the quality of the user experience so as to make it almost not worth the bother.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV Companies

    Just wondering where that puts me with my PCTV Broadway box as I can access this over the internet from anyway via the internet and watch Freeview, could set it up with my Virgin set-top box if I could be bothered. I can record and fast forward though the ads which I cannot do on catchuptv. Technology has moved on and as some other commentators have stated the TV channels need to get a life and produce a service that is better, that work on more devices and people will switch.

  22. doveman

    Inconsistent rulings

    It's strange that the Court ruled in this case that TVC are not copying or facilitating copying of programmes, when in previous cases relating to computer/console games, the Court ruled that simply playing a game causes a copy to be made of the IP (artwork, audio, etc) from the disc to the RAM to the screen and therefore any devices that enable "backup" discs to be used facilitate copying.

    Seemed a bizarre ruling to me but hasn't been appealed or annulled as far as I know.

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