£300m for digital switchover?



The UK Department of Culture Media and Sport has asked for £300m (E454m) to boost the chances of a digital switchover by 2010. According to The Times the request is part of the latest internal government spending negotiations.

Broadcasters and manufacturers have long campaigned for government assistance and the DCMS now recognises there has to be a dedicated body to manage the switch and it will require funding. According to reports up to £100m will be earmarked for a marketing campaign with most of the rest destined for conversion subsidies for pensioners and others.

The government believes a successful switch could be worth around £2bn including the auction of the freed radio spectrum.

Meanwhile, in another boost for the digital campaign, the BBC plans to follow the success of its Freeview digital television venture by backing a free-to-air digital satellite service.

In a progress report to the government the corporation recommended further state intervention if ministers were to achieve "digital switchover" by 2010. The BBC said the development of a satellite service would be "the final part of the jigsaw" by capturing consumers unable to receive Freeview's digital terrestrial signal and unwilling to pay for British Sky Broadcasting's subscription satellite service.