Sky is to cease accepting applications for places in the Electronic Programme Guide launch queue over concerns that older set top boxes may not cope with the number of services.
The method by which broadcasters gain access to the EPG is to be overhauled, essentially replacing the existing launch queue with a formalised system whereby broadcasters can trade EPG slots.
Sky plans to continue launching services already booked in the launch queue "with extreme caution" at a rate of two launches per week until the end of the year, while considering whether it would be at all possible to maintain that launch frequency into 2008.
Nicola Bamford, Sky's director of channels and operations, said: "Sustained growth in the number of services is a testament to the success of the platform. There is no other TV platform in the UK which provides such a level of access for broadcasters or such diversity for viewers.
"Our goal is to safeguard the interests of both viewers and service providers. After careful consideration, we believe the revised launch process will provide the fairest and most efficient way to launch new services into the EPG."
Sky said that set top boxes which only had to cope with 200 services at the launch of Sky Digital now have to store information on almost 1000, taking into account regional variants and interactive services. It is not known how far back the problem extends. Sky advised that while they are continuing to improve their software in an effort to use memory more efficiency, they will shortly exhaust all software-permitted gains.
Sounds pretty fair to me, nice to see they are considering the impact it could have on people with slower/older boxes before just adding more and more to the system. Digital Spy Report