Sunday, 18 January 2009

Sky TV Turns Subscribers Green

Sky TV controls it's subscribers remotely

I'm reading a book called 'Nudge' at the moment, which describes how citizens can be 'nudged' rather than instructed or legislated over to make the right choices and actions.

Coincidentally I simultaneously encountered the theory in action this week. The Sky TV set-top box keeps turning itself off. It's annoying, it's an older box and it takes a while to reboot and pick up the listings and when it's default position is 'off' it doesn't send a signal to the second room it's linked to.

My partner thinks the Sky box may be broken. I google 'Sky box keeps switching off' and discover we are not alone in our problem.

According to numerous posts all over various forums on the web (including digitalspy) every one's Sky box has developed a mind of its own.

Sky, it seems, has automatically downloaded a software update onto its subscribers' equipment to turn off their receivers when not in use in a bid to save electricity and boost the company's green credentials. Customers are puzzled because they haven't been told.

Subscribers can over-ride the 'auto-standby' feature by going into the settings menu and selecting option 5 - as we've now done.

There is much debate online about how much electricity Sky's action is really saving and how green it really makes Sky TV.

Some say the box on standby consumers 0.1 amps of electricity per hour. Multiply by 9m subscribers and you save enough electricity to power 57,000 homes.

Others moan that Sky should have given them the option to select the auto-off option. Green advocates ask how many subscribers would have enabled such a feature.

This is what the Nudge book is all about. Should our boxes be automatically turned off without our co-operation - in a Big Brother kind of way - or should we be nudged into action in a more self selecting way? Perhaps if we'd been 'nudged' into the benefit we would have complied, rather than simply disabling the annoying feature once we'd worked it out.

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