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Ofcom sets out recompense for luvvies

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Ofcom has published a rate card for professionals wanting to know how much they'll get in exchange for shifting frequencies, averaging out at just over half the cost of replacement kit.

The compensation is for the Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) crowd who've been asked to shift frequencies to create a bigger block of saleable spectrum, and fall into line with other EU countries in the hope of creating an EU-wide market. Those who have to shift will get money to cover the cost of replacing or upgrading their wireless tech.

Those interested in getting the cash will need to have had a Channel 69 licence last year, or prove they’re in the kit-rental business. They’ll also have to register with Ofcom’s chosen agency, Equiniti, to provide a list of kit they’re going to have to replace as a result of the spectrum-clearance order. The lucky professionals will get around 55 per cent of the replacement value, to be coughed up on March 2011.

Professional wireless microphones are being asked to move from channel 69 (an 8MHz band at 855.25MHz), to channel 38 (a similar-sized band at 607.25MHz) with the latter band available nationally from September this year. But shifting frequencies means replacing kit, which Ofcom stated it could only fund at the resale value, while the industry pointed out that it would have to buy new kit to keep operational.

That issue was resolved when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it would stump up the cash, leading to today's publication of the rate card (pdf) showing how much each bit of kit will be worth. Companies will be allowed to use the cash to upgrade or replace kit and the money should start flowing from March next year.

That takes care of some PMSE (Programme Makers & Special Event) use, but there are still a lot of microphones slipped between the analogue TV channels that are also going to have to find somewhere else to be when the spectrum gets flogged off. Those users currently pay a management fee to the JMFG to keep conflicts to a minimum, but Ofcom is determined to get that usage onto a commercial footing with plans to appoint a new manager after the Olympics and scale up fees over the next few years.

The industry’s argument remains that theatre and performance brings commerce to surrounding businesses, and visitors to the UK, so it can’t expect to pay the full value. Ofcom, meanwhile, keeps hoping that new technology will make the problem disappear if it just waits long enough. ®

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