Ofcom wins nations' consent for switchover

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UK media regulator Ofcom has helped secure international backing for the country's plan to switch to digital television transmissions by 2012.

Because broadcast signals from the UK can interfere with those in neighbouring countries (and vice versa) it is necessary for nations to agree on international frequency plans to limit such interference. Led by Ofcom, the UK delegation to the International Telecommunication Union's Regional Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva achieved all its objectives to secure a transition from analogue broadcasting to digital that will be free from international constraints, coming to agreements with France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland, among many others.

Key outcomes include:

  • Permission for the UK to use all necessary transmitter sites to deliver public service broadcasting digital terrestrial TV channels to 98.5% of the population—the same proportion as currently receive analogue television broadcasts—and other commercial digital channels to up to 90% of the population.
  • International and bilateral agreements supporting UK plans for further expansion of digital radio services.
  • The flexibility to allocate spectrum released by switchover on a technology and service-neutral basis (subject to certain technical restrictions).
  • Protection of analogue television broadcast signals until switchover.
  • Protection of non-broadcasting services, including mobile communications, radar and radio astronomy, within the frequency ranges under review.

Outgoing Ofcom chief executive Stephen Carter said that the success of the international agreements "accelerates the move to all-digital broadcasting".

He added: "After months of detailed negotiations involving more than 100 countries, this successful outcome is testament to the hard work and dedication of the UK delegation".

Lovelace Consulting  |  30.06.2006

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