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A digital time-bomb?



"A time-bomb," this was the South Wales MP Chris Bryant described the problems of digital switch-over. He was speaking at a press conference to launch a major new report from the Common's Culture, Media & Sport Committee called Broadcasting in Transition.

The report, chaired by Gerald Kaufman MP, argued that:

"Ofcom should attach priority to ensuring its regulatory decisions are consistent with the promotion of an expeditious switchover to digital broadcasting.

"The twin issues of universal access to, and social exclusion from, free-to-air digital television services must remain an important issue. We recommend that Ofcom address itself to this as a matter of urgency."

Mr Brytant was particularly concerned about the difficulties that his constituents, in one"'of the most deprived areas of the UK" faced.The current plans for DTT rollout in the Rhondda and the ending of the so-called 'Solus cards' were depriving people of any opportunity to view digitally without subscribing to Sky, he said.

In another section, the Committee wrote:

"[we] fully acknowledge and welcome the possibilities that new digital technologies offer broadcasters. At the same time, broadcasting is about people communicating with people. This communication should be facilitated throughout the regions and reflect cultural diversity at both a regional and national level. It needs broadcasters and their supporting facilities to be in situ. Section 286 of the Communications Act refers to a suitable range of Channel 3 programme production centres; we look to Ofcom to ensure these powers are used appropriately to provide for a thriving regional programme production sector."