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MPs take on Ofcom in Freeview HD row

March 1st, 2007 · 2 Comments

Over 40 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion calling on the Secretary of State to ensure that the Freeview digital TV platform be mandated to carry high definition television. The motion, tabled by Labour MP for Selby John Grogan, says “Ofcom’s claim that, following switchover, the public service broadcasters, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, will be able to broadcast up to five channels on Freeview will only be valid if the number of channels and interactive services are drastically cut, potentially undermining the switchover process.”
The MPs maintain that the UK’s digital terrtrestial TV system should not be designated a second class standard-definition service, in the Government’s haste to sell off frequency space.
According to trade magazine ERT, the Early Day Motion came after MPs were given a demonstration of HD TV by industry lobby group HD For All.
HD For All (which comprises both hardware makers and retailers) argues that Government spend some of its ‘digital dividend’ to establish a viable free-to-air digital terrestrial HD service. Ofcom currently advocates that all available spectrum space be sold off, thereby ensuring that the platform has no role to play in the future development of TV technology. The consolation consultation period closes on March 20.
Writing to The Guardian, HD For All said “We believe the nine million households that have invested in Freeview, encouraged by the Government’s digital switchover programe, are entitled to the same picture quality as cable and satellite viewers, irrespective of their ability to pay. We believe the Government needs to intervene to ensure that some of the released spectrum is reserved in order for Freeview viewers to be provided with a minimum level of HD services. It seems inconceivable that in 2012, when much of the world will be watching the Olympics in HD, the host nation, a pioneer and leader in broadcast technologies, will relegate a significant proportion of its citizens to a second-class service.”

Tags: Broadcasting · High definition TV · Trade

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Ball // Mar 1, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Consolation? Presumably consultation? Actually, with this Government’s other examples of consultation perhaps the first word is more appropriate!

  • 2 Gareth Phillips // Mar 11, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I personally feel that the entire terrestrial platform should be handed over for the broadcast of free to air content, and that should definitley include HD channels. I am worried about the growth of Top-Up TV, and the pending release of a Sky pay TV service on the plaform which will require specialist hardware. Both TopUp TV and SKy are taking bandwidth away from the free services used by millions of households, and this is bandwidth the BBC and ITV etc are going to be unable to compete for against the likes of Sky, who already have their own platform.

    I say reserve terresttrial in its entirety for free services, there are plenty of other mediums inc IP for delivering Pay services.

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