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In January this year I rearranged my living room. After the furniture were in position and cables were starting to find their new routes, I realized that my TV-antenna cable was too short.

At the time it wasn’t unusual for me to get cought in front of the TV, zapping channels, watching random crap, and by doing so I also polluted my brain with those evil commercials that NOBODY wants to watch, but most of us watch anyway.

Instead of going out to buy a new one (so that I could continue to destroy my brain, bit by bit) I decided to simply ditch oldschool TV, and consume all content on demand.

Most series I follow were already available for download from great websites that really understands how to treat a consumer. The missing piece was my absolute favorite TV-station, Swedish Television, that has given me hours of interesting content since I was a kid.

At the time Swedish Television was accessible only through the webbrowser, by Real Media, or Microsoft Media Player, but after browsing some HTML source I managed to grab the URL to the Windows Media stream, and was able to play it successfully with Xbox Media Center. By using the python scripting interface to XBMC I could replicate the web interface as a browsable directory tree with all content Swedish Television decided to put online (which is quite a lot of material). I eventually released the script on the XBMC scripts portal for others to download and it seemed like others liked the idea too. To this day I’ve had 16804 downloads, and lots of positive emails that made it all even more worthwhile.

I’ve been free from commercials for almost a year now, and I must say it feels great. Visiting friends who still watch oldschool TV feels like walking through a time portal, and it’s kind of scary to watch commercials when you’re not used to them, they feel pretty offensive (which of course is the purpose).

Ok, so the year of 2007 has been a great year, but what about 2008? The future of Swedish Television on the web is uncertain. This weekend I had to update the script because the short news clips are now distributed using Macromedia Flash. Luckily the url to the .flv-files could be found in the HTML-source, and XBMC can play all formats known to man, so I still have access to all content I’m interested in. But using Macromedia Flash isn’t the only new addition to the webportal. A couple of months ago Swedish Television started to distribute some content with Move Media Player that would allow for higher quality streams, but required the consumer to install additional software on their competers. When I saw the news I did a little digging to see if I could access the stream, unfortunatly without much luck (may still be possible to find out where to reach them). During the digging I found out a bit more about Move Media Player and it seems to be using the VP7 codec which FFMPEG currently doesn’t suppor (but hopefully will soon). So using VP7 on the Xbox is a no go, for now at least.

FFMPEG not supporting VP7 isn’t that big of a deal. The frustration lies in that Swedish Television is produced by tax-money, and obligatory TV-licence that you must pay if you have a TV or a computer with a TV-card and you live in Sweden. We fund the production of their content, and they repay us with restrictions on the content by using proprietary and patent damaged solutions.

This is NOT ok!

Swedish Television put pride in their claim to be Free as in Freedom. I fully agree to this when applied to their content, but by locking that Free as in Freedom content into proprietary and patent damaged distribution forms they completly invalidate their claim.

Their locked down agenda also stretches outside their own web portal. In an attempt to gain more publicity in the younger crowd of Internet-addicted kids they started to publish some of their content on YouTube which offers really crappy video quality, and uses the non-Free Macromedia Flash format for distributing its content. I can see why they do this as a LOT of people use YouTube, by creating a link between YouTube and their own web portal they are likely to get more publicity, at least to some degree.

However, YouTube isn’t the only external site with damaged distribution forms they’ve looked at. The latest way to gain more viewers has been to establish a relationship with a new site called Joost. This site is run by the founder of Skype, and is even more closed down by requiring you to create an account to watch the TV programs that the population of Sweden has collectively funded. Sorry, I don’t see the public interest in associating a person with a tv program, maybe someone can enlighten me? I haven’t verified what codec Joost uses, but as Skype uses VP7, that is probably a good bet. But to play content from Joost, you have to blindly implement their P2P technology too which most likely will never happen.

I wonder how much money has poured into the pockets of Microsoft, Real Media and Move Media for providing the current solutions, and Joost for the new sidetrack, and the project of uploading their content to YouTube. I wonder how many hours of developer time those price tags could have translated to if Swedish Television had hired a group of good programmers to write the necessary tools and modifications to get a Free solution using Theora or Dirac up and running.

So, in my eyes the future of video on demand from Swedish Television using Free software without steping on patents is in grave danger, specially when (and it’s probably just a question of when) EU opens its arms for US patents. For those who agree with me I strongly suggest you sign this petition in hope of seeing the Free as in Freedom content using Free as in Freedom distribution forms:

http://www.namninsamling.se/index.php?sida=2&nid=1120

Update:
The Xbox Media Center script, Sveriges Television 0.94, can be found here.

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17 Comments

  1. Superbra script! (OK om jag skriver på svenska va?)
    Fortsätt med det fina arbetet du gör, fast jag har börjat få lite problem. Vet inte om det beror på scriptet eller nåt annat, men efter en bit in i klippen jag kollar så fryser xboxen och det går inte göra något annat än att stänga av och sätta på den igen. Något irriterande. Någon fler med samma problem?

    Sen vore det ju fantastiskt om det gick att implementera fler svenska tv-sajters web-TV också; TV3, TV4, kanal5 mm. Kunde du fixa SVT så är det väl ingen match att fixa det också?

    Som sagt: tack för det fina arbetet!

  2. Mitt script ser bara till att XBMC får rätt sökvägar till filmklippen, hänger det sig är det en bugg i XBMC. Ibland slutar XBMC spela mitt i allt med, och det är också sjukt trist (speciellt eftersom man inte kan söka heller), men tyvärr inget jag kan påverka.

    Har tittat lite på TV4 som använder samma typ av webb-mjukvara som SVT, men har inte lagt någon tid på det än. Men det det borde vara så enkelt som att ersätta SVT.py i scriptkatalogen med en TV4.py som surfar fram sökvägarna från TV4.

  3. Precis, det borde vara så enkelt…

  4. Hell yes. Någonstans har jag läst att SR motiverar sitt val av RealMedia med att det är det mest tillgängliga formatet. MP3, någon?!

    SVT är väl på väg ner i samma hål med sitt joost osv.

    Och detta med att deras avtal inte tillåter att program finns tillgängliga på nätet mer än 30 dagar efter senaste sändning? WTF? Vilket fyllo skriver deras avtal? Det är SVT som pyntar för programmen (här pratar vi alltså om deras eget material, inte inköpta serier eller liknande) och då borde dom rimligtvis få göra vad dom vill med dem…

    Men jag vet, här kommer det in nån skit om att skådespelare (och andra funktionärer) på något bisarrt sätt ska få mer betalt ju fler gånger ett program spelas. Men dom får väl betalt för utfört arbete som alla andra? Tänk om mattläggaren som du anlitat kommer tillbaka efter att du har haft en stor fest och kräver mer betalt eftersom det är fler personer som gått på mattan?

    Jeez…

  5. Bra skrivet och tack för dunderbra skript! Proprietär programvara inom offentlig förvaltning/myndighet är en styggelse.

    Ägnade för övrigt den lilla fritid jag hade tiden innan jul till att gå igenom alla Dokument Inifrån… 🙂

  6. Min 3,5-åring krisade häromdagen: han trodde Hjärnkontoret skulle börja när SvT bara körde en trailer för programmet. Men super-dad hade ju precis hittat SVT-scriptet och kunde avstyra krisen med att visa senaste programmet – TACK!
    /Micke
    PS någon xbox-guru som vet hur en länk till scriptet kan läggas under Film-menyn i stället för bland övriga script (precis som Apple Movie Trailers)?

  7. Hi, this script has made my life away from Sweden (Australia since a few years) so much better, so I wondered if I could ask for a favor… I used to be able to listen to SR on my xbox but the SR script doesn’t work any more 😦 I downloaded the script again from http://www.xbmcscripts.com and had a quick look with my limited knowledge but couldn’t get it to work… Possibly SR have changed the addresses or something but I have no clue about Python. If you would be able to help me with this that would be awesome! maybe this address with all the direct links to the channels could help… http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/mall/artikel.asp?ProgramID=2321&Artikel=787720

  8. tjena! la in scriptet precis men kan inte få det att funka, det står bara running inom parentes och så händer det inte något mer. är detta något känt fel eller är jag dum i huvudet? troligen det senare 😉 tack på förhand /andreas

  9. andreas: Då har du fel version av något. Testa att lägg in rätt version. Har för mig jag skrivit vilka versioner som fungerar i README.txt. Manualer finns av en anledning.

  10. Haha. RTFM. Jag körde en tidigare version, kanske 0.92, på min xbmc från mars förra året så jag trodde att den var ny nog (och hade relase > rev10070). Men via t3ch såg jag att svn releaserna då låg runt 8000! Så jag uppgraderade igår till senaste t3ch och nu funkar allt fint! Tack för ett bra script!

  11. Hej, SverigesTelevision scriptet v0.94 fungerar inte längre 😦

  12. Hej!

    Har samma problem med SverigesTelevision scriptet v0.94.

    Har saxat följande från loggfilen om det kan vara till någon hjälp:

    22:13:26 M: 33234944 FATAL: Traceback (most recent call last):
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL: File ”Q:\scripts\SverigesTelevision\default.py”, line 210, in ?
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL:
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL: svt = SVTGui(‘main.xml’, res_path)
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL: TypeError
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL: :
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL: XML File for Window is missing
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 FATAL:
    22:13:26 M: 33214464 ERROR: Scriptresult: Error
    22:13:26 M: 33738752 FATAL:
    22:13:26 M: 33738752 FATAL:
    22:17:50 M: 35725312 ERROR: Scriptresult: Error
    22:17:52 M: 39776256 NOTICE: HDD: SMART is supported.
    22:17:52 M: 39776256 NOTICE: HDD: SMART is enabled.
    22:18:16 M: 28512256 WARNING: msvcrt.dll: dll_lseeki64 called, TODO: add ‘int64 -> long’ type checking
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL: Traceback (most recent call last):
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL: File ”Q:\scripts\SverigesTelevision\default.py”, line 210, in ?
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL:
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL: svt = SVTGui(‘main.xml’, res_path)
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL: TypeError
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL: :
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL: XML File for Window is missing
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 FATAL:
    22:18:33 M: 33341440 ERROR: Scriptresult: Error
    22:18:33 M: 33865728 FATAL:
    22:18:33 M: 33865728 FATAL:
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL: Traceback (most recent call last):
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL: File ”Q:\scripts\SverigesTelevision\default.py”, line 210, in ?
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL:
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL: svt = SVTGui(‘main.xml’, res_path)
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL: TypeError
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL: :
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL: XML File for Window is missing
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 FATAL:
    22:18:38 M: 33361920 ERROR: Scriptresult: Error
    22:18:38 M: 33886208 FATAL:
    22:18:38 M: 33886208 FATAL:

  13. Hade inget att göra i em. Så jag tänkte ”jag uppgraderar XBOX”.
    fel fel fel.
    Senaste version jag har hittat som funkar till
    SVT0,94 är XBMC-SVN_2007-11-17_rev10770-T3CH.
    Jag uppgraderade från en version0710.
    En hel månad senare !!!!!!
    Ha de å tack får scriptet.

  14. Hej!

    Har du några planer på att skriva ett script som fungerar till windows-versionen av xbmc? Det skulle säkert uppskattas av många!

  15. Har just updaterat till senaste versionen av XBMC – T3CH
    Tydligen fungerar inte detta script langra pga andringar i Python I XBMC men hittade foljande script som har ett antal olika tv kanaler inklusive SVT och det funkar fint for mig

    http://code.google.com/p/xot-uzg/

    Tack sa mycket for scriptet och den tiden som varit …

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  1. […] the petition to make SR and SVT send all material in an open format! If you are interested read a rant on SVT, SR and open formats (skip down to 5th […]

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