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Sony warns of disastrous outcome to Ofcom HD policy

June 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

Sony continues to wage an aggressive behind the scenes war with the UK’s broadcasting policy-makers over HDTV. In an effort to ring-fence some of the spectrum due to be freed by the analogue switch-off for free-to-air HD broadcasts. Adrian Northover Smith, the brand’s head of products and services development recently bushwacked a bemused Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell at a Royal Television Society meeting in London,
Reading a statement written by Sony UK chief Steve Dowdle, Northover Smith said: “When considering the future of the DTT platform and Ofcom’s Digital Dividend Review, I am certain that we are currently heading for a disastrous outcome that will deprive the majority of the UK public of HD for at least a generation if not more.”
He added that Sony has “been lobbying strongly as the HD for All group for some months now, and have achieved sympathy from most stakeholders, however, everybody seems to have their own agenda so it’s easy to pass the buck from department to department. Nobody has overall control or an overview of what is happening on a worldwide basis.”
Sony’s statement continued: “Some will dismiss the consumer appetite for HD (whilst admitting that if they had shown them actual HD footage there would have been too much of a wow factor!). Others will say that it’s available on satellite for those who want to pay.
“We as a manufacturer are in a very good position to gauge market demand for HD, because although it’s new to us in the UK, it’s been around for some time in Japan and the USA, where it has now established itself as the norm – the ‘expected standard’ as far as consumers in those countries are concerned.
“Every HD-ready TV set in Japan is sold with a Digital Terrestrial as well as a Digital Satellite tuner, allowing for ease of use by the consumer – depending on his individual circumstances with regard to aerial or dish infrastructure. It does not matter what platform they are watching, HD is available to all.
Just last week, the French media regulator ‘the Conseil Superieur De l’audiovisuel’ invited tenders for two new high-definition television channels on the country’s digital terrestrial television platform. The French culture ministry has also reserved capacity for a third HD channel on DTT, that channel will go to public service broadcaster France Televisions.
In Italy, they are planning to introduce SD/HD simulcasts as part of their DTT plans, and the Catalonia Region of Spain started trial DTT HD transmissions in April.
“The French media regulator’s approach contrasts with the stance taken by its UK counterpart, Ofcom, which was backed this week by the Commons culture committee. In their report, New Media and Creative Industries, MPs said that Ofcom was right not to endorse ‘any particular technology or application in the framework being drawn up for re-allocation of spectrum under the digital dividend review’.
“France has clearly recognised the huge growth of HD-ready TVs, and the importance of improved quality of picture for the majority of viewers.
The French digital terrestrial television public will be able to view the Roland Garros tennis tournament in HD as well as the other major world sporting events that will be universally covered in HD, including the 2012 London Olympics. This is somewhat ironic when you consider that TV viewers as far away as Australia will get better quality TV pictures than the hosting nation!
Countries around the world are now leaping ahead of the UK, reserving HD for public service broadcasters – in response to consumer demand. As secretary of state, I urge you to take it upon yourself not to allow the DTT platform in the UK to begin it’s inevitable demise that will happen if HD is not allowed to flourish on Freeview. You will create a two tier TV society for the first time in our Broadcasting history.
We have presented on numerous occasions the ‘spend to save’ argument whereby spectrum can be ‘lent’ to the broadcasters until we can achieve a second switchover through technological developments. This would be a win- win situation for the broadcasters, manufacturers and ultimately consumers.”

Tags: Broadcasting · Corporate · High definition TV · Trade

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