TV Digital Switchover – DCMS Response

Yesterday morning I received a reply from my local MP regarding a campaign to get MP’s to sign the early day motion on ring-fencing a channel on Freeview for local/community programming, anticipating the digital switch over.

With her response she enclosed a letter from the DCMS regarding my request. I don’t know if the DCMS letter is a standard one that they send out to everyone. It’s one and a half sides of A4, but the last paragraph sums it up totally.

“In their report on Public Service Content, published on 15 November, the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee said that while they see some value in local content, they are not convinced of the need to intervene to support local TV, particularly by giving away spectrum for broadcasting on digital terrestrial television. I hope this information is useful to you. Best Wishes, Andy Burnham”

I found it perversely reassuring to see the battle lines so clearly laid out in black & white.   Thanks a bunch Andy for making that so clear.

Basically what the DCMS are saying is that a community tv station will have to bid for a channel alongside other commercial bidders such as shopping channels and music stations.  When the digital switchover happens local programming will pretty much disappear, except maybe for news.  BBC, ITV, C4 and C5 are already saying that come the switch over they will be an unfair disadvantage as none of the other digital channel have to have a public service remit.  ITV are already backing away from confirming they will continue their public service agenda.  Without the DCMS and Ofcom supporting community and local programming by ringfencing a channel on Freeview, the fight for community television broadcasting will be over.  Costs to run a digital channel are hugely expensive and competing against commercial stations will be near impossible.  The Community Channel would be the obvious answer, but unfortunately that channel is a huge missed opportunity and nothing but an advert channel for charities. 

The DCMS and Ofcom are saying that the future of local and community programming lies in broadband, which is unfortunately missing the point as for much of the target audience for local community programming, (i.e. the elderly, those disenfranchised, etc), many will be on the wrong side of the digital divide, and won’t have computers let alone broadband access at home.

If you are passionate about the future of local and community television then visit the campaign at the Community Media Association (CMA) and ask you local MP to sign the early days motion.  Full text for communication to your MP can be found at the site.



One thought on “TV Digital Switchover – DCMS Response

  1. I fully believe that local TV is a very valuable resource but unfortunately in our economic climate, including the BBC introducing big cut-backs it does look like it will dissapear with the digital roll out purely for commercial reasons.The digital TV change over is well under way and consumers can now experience the wonder of (High Definition) TV HDready flat screen.
    There will of course be benefits to the digital roll out one being that the picture and sound quality will be vastly superior. Consumers in poor analogue reception areas should see a dramatic improvement to their viewing experience.
    What has been surprising as the change over as progressed is that consumers in those areas of change over have generally decided to purchase a new flat screen TV rather than a £20. Set top box.
    Have discovered what is not widely known?
    When you consider a 32in analogue TV consumes 500 watts and its modern flat screen replacement 150 watts there is definitely encouragement to take the plunge. You would make substantial savings and at the same time become more environmentally friendly.

    When buying your replacement TV HDready flat screen you need to be aware of the features of some of TV’s available. It could be that you could benefit from a TV that has internet access so you can take advantage of the knowledge available on the web – or you may just want to send an email.

    If you are unsure how to find a TV HDready flat screen with features to meet your requirements you may be interested in a resource where many tv’s have been reviewed by independent experts and with a comprehensive price comparison.

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