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Dundee Liberal Democrat Group Leader highlights Dundee digital television issue

December 29, 2005 8:04 AM
Digital Terrestrial TV - but not for many Dundonians until 2010

Digital TV issue highlighted by Dundee Liberal Democrats

Cllr Fraser Macpherson, Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Dundee City Council, has highlighted the unfairness of the Government's plan to switch-over to digital television which will leave thousands of Dundee people who are served by the Tay Bridge Transmitter without access to digital terrestrial television until 2010.

Fraser highlighted this issue following an exchange correspondence with Ofcom's head of broadcasting and telecommunications, Alan Stewart, and the issue has been widely reported in the local media - this is how the Press & Journal newspaper carried the story on 29th December 2005:


A Dundee councillor has accused the Government of creating an underclass of TV viewers, left behind in the changeover to terrestrial digital broadcasting.

Fraser Macpherson, who represents Tay Bridges on Dundee City Council, says viewers in his area and in other parts of the city will have to wait up to five years longer to get digital terrestrial TV because they are served by relay transmitters.

Industry watchdog Ofcom has told Mr Macpherson about 35,000 homes in many parts of Dundee and north-east Fife will not get access to more channels and higher-quality pictures until the entire Grampian TV area is switched over to digital in 2010.

Both the Tay Bridge and Camperdown transmitters, which serve Broughty Ferry, Craigiebank, the city centre, west end, Menzieshill and Charleston areas, will be among the last to be converted to broadcast digital signals

Lib Dem Mr Macpherson, a veteran campaigner on the issue, has written in the past to both Ofcom and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He said many in his ward felt it was unfair that such a significant number of licence-payers did not get the digital services others received.

"The digital-switchover plan has essentially created two classes of viewer, those served by principal transmitters which carry digital and those served by many of the relay transmitters, like Tay Bridge, which do not. The extended period leading up to digital switchover means that viewers can wait up to five years more until they will be able to receive the digital service others already enjoy.

"It is very unfair for licence-payers who are missing out."

Tay Bridge is one of 20 UK transmitters that serve populations of more than 30,000 people but are as yet incapable of broadcasting digital pictures.

Alan Stewart, head of broadcasting and telecommunications at Ofcom, said the organisation understood the disappointment of viewers served by relay transmitters, but the issue was a highly technical one.

He said: "The switchover plan is interrelated and the frequencies, power and coverage of each transmitter has to be controlled so as not to cause interference to viewers elsewhere. Changes made to one transmitter will in almost all cases result in consequential changes being required at other transmitters."

When the switch to digital starts, new and old signals will be broadcast at the same time to give viewers the chance to buy a compatible TV or set-top box.