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FreeView And Govt's Partnership Continuing

15 June 2005

The FreeView Group of free-to-air broadcasters said today that the Government’s announcement on digital broadcasting was the first step in a continuing partnership between government and the television industry.

A spokesman for the group said that both public and commercial broadcasters, and viewers, would benefit from the move. The industry decision to recommend a hybrid technical solution, using both terrestrial and satellite transmission systems, was the best approach to securing national coverage to replace the ageing analogue system.

“The Government has recognised, after a period of detailed and very positive consultation, that broadcasters need support to make the change,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman stressed that it would be several years before existing analogue services could be switched off, and viewers would have plenty of time to adapt. The progressive development of new and competing services from the members of the FreeView Group and other broadcasters would encourage the changeover.

New broadcasters could also emerge. “Moving to digital opens up competition in the free-to-air broadcasting market, and at a time when audiences and broadcasters’ revenues are fragmenting,” said FreeView. “It would seem to make more sense for broadcasters to keep digital at arms length for as long as possible.”

“That’s not the shared industry position,” the spokesman continued. “We welcome more diversity, and everyone demands improved picture quality.” The broadcasters are likely to manage viewer fragmentation by developing their own competing services.

Some technical and commercial decisions still need to be resolved, but work was well advanced. No decision on the starting date for digital transmission could be expected for several more months. The decision would be accompanied by detailed advice and information to consumers.

“The Broadcasters and Government agree that approaching digital this way means a lower cost to each of them. No one broadcaster can do this on their own,” explained FreeView. “A planned and unified approach is essential for us to play our part in the national economic transformation that comes with digital.”

ENDS

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