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BBC, UK Government, and the Digital Bonanza.

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posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 12:37 PM
Are you a digital hold out ?

If you live in the UK and you have not as yet purchased a digibox, cable, or satellite dish so you can access the extra freeview channels then you are a hold out like me. We hold outs are a minority and one that is growing smaller every day. We are also the focus of one of the most insidious advertising campaigns in commercial history and one that regularly abides in a legal and moral grey area.

Let's start by listing some facts which when seen together should raise a few eyebrows, regardless of whether you already have access to a digital service or are a hold out.

1/ The UK Government intends to phase out the analogue service for TV and radio between 2008 and 2012. A test area in Wales has already had it's analogue service switched off but from 2008 entire regions of the UK, starting with the Borders, will be forced to go digital.

2/ Switching off the analogue service will free up a huge bandwidth which will then be sold by the Government to mobile phone companies and other technology providers. Estimating how much the government windfall from this sell off is difficult. Just a few years before the last big frequency sell off projections for the sale were a third of the almost £23 billion that the UK government actually got. This new sell off is much bigger, estimates recently for the government windfall are around £45 billion but with seven years to go the government can comforably expect in excess of £100 billion. That is alot of money and you can easily see why they want to do it.

3/ Unfortunately, the government aren't going to pay for the switch over. We are. You are paying for it when you purchase your alternative digital reception, whether digibox, cable, or satellite, without which you won't pick up a TV signal from 2008 onwards. You are also paying for it through the TV licence fee which is likely to rise by 2.3% above inflation after the BBC charter review next year to cover the cost.

4/ The BBC and other terrestrial (analogue) TV companies are promoting their extra digital services in a way which explicitly encourages viewers to buy a digibox thus advertising on behalf of private companies which is in contradiction to the BBC charter. By emphasising the user-friendly nature of the digibox and that it can be purchased for a "one of payment of around $40" the BBC may well be breaking it's charter rules but the powers that be won't take them to task as long as the BBC continue to promote a trend which will see the UK government make £ Billions.

That the government should take advantage of this huge potential windfall does not bother me, after all one would hope that all UK citizens will benefit from better services (though I fear it will disappear into a financial blackhole). What does annoy me is that I'm the one (like you all too) that is being forced to pay for it all through backdoor taxes (increase in TV licence fee) and by updating my technology. I'm also upset that I'm being held to ransome by the BBC who put new TV programs on channels I can't access financed with my licence fee money and that against their own charter obligations advertising by proxy private business.

Let me ask you all a question. Have you ever seen an advertisment for a digibox ??

Of course not ! Because the manufacturers don't need to. The advertisment free BBC is already doing a better job than they could.

Some might ask why I don't just bite the bullet and buy a digibox, afterall it's only £40. The answer is I'm just a grumpy old man who resents being pushed around by the authorities.

Am I alone ??

posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 12:52 PM
The same thing is happening in the U.S.

Analog television transmissions are scheduled to be totally phased out by law here by 2009.

posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 01:10 PM
I am not so bothered about the change to digital -- I actually think it was worth the £100 that I bought mine digibox for a year or two back.

The problem I have is the damn TV licence. Why do we have to pay £120 per year to the BBC just for owning a TV? I would prefer advertising on the BBC -- ad breaks are good for nipping to the toilet / making a cup of tea.

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