Feeds

Freeview lobby cries foul on Ofcom HDTV plans

Haves and have-nots

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A group of broadcasting industry firms has criticised Ofcom's plans for high definition TV on the Freeview platform, warning they are built to fail and risk undermining the future of terrestrial TV.

Ofcom has proposed that when the analogue switch-off completes in 2012, the spectrum should be sold off for new uses. It favours a plan that would see HDTV channels squeezed into the existing Freeview bandwidth using superior MPEG4 compression technology and the as-yet-incomplete DVB-T2 broadcasting standard. It would mean consumers buying new receiver equipment.

According to the Digital Television Group, a consortium that includes all the main broadcasters and several manufacturers, the plans "could seriously compromise Digital Terrestrial Television's long term viability". It reckons Ofcom is putting too much early faith in DVB-T2, for example. "These 'forward-looking' assumptions about timing, technology and transition are still to be convincingly demonstrated in practical systems", it said in a statement.

A public consultation on the Ofcom blueprint, which would aim to provide space for three or four HDTV channels, closed last week. A regulatory ruling will follow soon.

Ahead of the final decision, DTG has claimed the scheme is headed for the same scrapheap as ONdigital, BSB and BT Movio. These services were all hamstrung by their relatively low number of channels, the lobby said, and Ofcom could similarly doom Freeview HD by skimping on bandwidth in the face of dozens of HD channels that could be carried by Sky, Virgin Media and future IPTV services.

The DTG insists that spectrum should be available for at least the five main terrestrial channels to broadcast simultaneously in high definition, to avoid establishing an underclass of HD have-nots among commercial channels. The demand for multi-channel terrestrial HD from consumers is established, said DTG's director general Dermot Nolan. "Flat panel sales are huge now. Terrestrial broadcasting needs to offer HD to compete [with satellite and cable]," he said.

The blueprint proposes that channels be rejigged on the current Freeview broadcast system to allow transmitting hardware to be upgraded for DVB-T2. Nolan said that DTG was "not averse to a reorganisation", but he warned that the reach of standard definition channels could be hit in remote areas by shifting channels off their current signal. "That... is at odds with the implied Universal Service Obligation of Public Service Broadcasters," DTG said.

There are six signal multiplexes in use for Freeview. Ofcom wants to clear the decks on multiplex B, which is operated by the BBC and carries BBC Four, BBC Parliament, interactive and radio services in preparation for HD Freeview rollout beginning in 2009. It would mean massive contractual headaches for DTG's members.

The group called for regulators to develop a coherent national strategy on HDTV across all broadcasting platforms. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title
Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.