[mythtv-users] OT: UK TV viewers take note: OFCOM enters consultation phase of 'The Digital Dividend' aka selling off old the old analogue frequencies.

Justin Hornsby justin.hornsby at gmail.com
Wed Dec 20 01:33:32 UTC 2006

Way off-topic for my way of thinking, but I feel it's important enough
to warrant a posting here:

In the UK it cannot have escaped your attention that relatively soon,
the only way to receive free to air TV signals through an aerial will
be with digital reception equipment.

Once the current analogue TV service has been switched off around the
country and the digital channels have been moved, the UK government
plans to sell off the unused radio frequency spectrum.

To quote OFCOM:

"1.1 The radio spectrum is a scarce resource of enormous importance in
the modern world.

1.2 In the UK , uses of spectrum like mobile communications and
broadcasting account for about 3% of the economy – more than the
electricity and water industries combined. Spectrum is also an
essential input into numerous public services – from defence to the
emergency services, and from scientific research to transport.

1.3 The demand for spectrum is growing fast. In part, this reflects
rapid innovation in wireless technologies and applications of many
different kinds. In part, it stems from the fact that wireless
services have unique features that are valued by almost everyone –
like mobility and convenience.

1.4 The rising importance of the spectrum means that the way that it
is managed is a vital issue for advanced economies around the world.
So one of Ofcom's most important objectives is to ensure that the use
of spectrum brings as many benefits as possible to the UK's citizens
and consumers.

1.5 This consultation is about how we should achieve this through the
release of one of the most valuable spectrum bands likely to be
available in the foreseeable future – the digital dividend. ...."

So.  Analogue is going to be switched off.  Great!  So we're going to
get HDTV in its place, right?  Not necessarily, and that is the point
of my posting.

OFCOM have already carried out a study of public opinion and reached
the conclusion that "High definition television, by contrast, was not
identified in our research as a major source of broader value to
society. A bigger choice of channels was rated more highly, for both
citizen and consumer interests, and HD was seen mainly as a premium
consumer product, similar to mobile television."

HDTV need not be a premium consumer product at all.  I know from my
own personal circumstances that I would rather have a choice of a
small number of excellent quality television channels than an
opportunity to watch low quality mobile TV at 1 a minute.

Both the BBC and Channel 4 have expressed a great interest in securing
frequencies for HDTV in the UK but neither are guaranteed this.

Here's your opportunity to tell OFCOM how you feel.  Whether or not
it's likely to have an effect on the outcome of the consultation is
unknown - but if the worst happens and the UK gets left behind the
rest of the world in having no free over the air HDTV while you sat
there doing nothing you'll only have yourselves to blame.

Details of OFCOM's consultation can be found here:
http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/ddr/ along with advice on how
to respond.

The consultation was published on the 19th of December 2006 and will
close on the 20th of March 2007.

Don't say nobody told you.

Have a merry Christmas!
Justin Hornsby
Moderator of www.mythtvtalk.com
email: justin(dot)hornsby(at)gmail.com
web: http://www.juski.co.uk

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