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Dundee LibDem councillor criticises inferior TV services planned for thousands of local people

December 16, 2007 12:10 AM
Television transmitter

Television transmitter

Following his highlighting last week the fact that thousands of Dundee TV viewers will still be getting a "second rate" TV service after the digital TV switch over in Tayside in 2010, Dundee City West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson today (Sunday 16th December) said that many of his constituents had contacted him to say how angry they are at TV bosses short-changing them.

Cllr Macpherson has long been critical of the Westminster Government's handling of the conversion to digital which has meant that until the analogue switch off takes place, all people whose TV reception comes from a relay transmitter rather than a main regional transmitter cannot yet receive Freeview programmes. In the case of the Tay Bridge transmitter, its 35 000 viewers do not get access to Freeview, including most residents of the West End and City Centre, together with many in other parts of southern Dundee, including much of Craigiebank and Broughty Ferry. Additionally, many in the Charleston area of Dundee do not get Freeview because they are served by the Camperdown relay transmitter, again without digital signals.

However, last week, Cllr Macpherson advised that many people in the UK served by relay transmitters will still get a second class service even after the digital switch over.

Cllr Macpherson said, "I received concerns that even after the analogue switch off, the Tay Bridge transmitter will not carry all the Freeview services that other transmitters already carry.

"The service from Tay Bridge will be called "Freeview Lite" which really means that it is light of many of the TV and radio stations others already receive - 36 TV and radio stations short to be precise."

It emerged that whereas the Angus main transmitter already carries all 58 Freeview TV and radio channels, Tay Bridge and many other relay stations will carry a limited service of only 22 after 2010 (and absolutely none at the moment)*

Cllr Macpherson continued, "It should be remembered that of those liable to meet a TV licence, everyone pays the same fee but it appears this will - even after the digital conversion takes place - result in two classes of service and I view that as completely unfair. It is very clear that my constituents across the West End feel cheated by a second-rate service.

"I understand that analysts predict that the sell-off of the no longer used analogue bandwidth after the digital switch-over could raise for the Westminster Government at least twice as much as the £22.5 billion yielded last April by the auction of mobile phone licences, so let's be clear here that the limited Freeview services that it appears are planned for many people is simply to maximise the government's financial windfall from the sale of the bandwidth.

"I have written to the James Purnell MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about the matter. I think it is disgraceful that many of my constituents in the West End - who do not get digital terrestrial at all just now - will get an inferior version of the service after 2010. It is simply unacceptable."

Cllr Macpherson said he had also written about this issue to Blair Jenkins, Chair of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, recently established by the Scottish Government to investigate the future of Scottish Broadcasting and services.

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