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Full details of the ruling on this 21 page pdf
Pay TV channels on multiplexes B, C and D
Removal of the ‘free to air only’ requirement
Background: Pay TV channels on multiplexes B, C and D
1.1 Traditionally, the majority of television viewers in the UK have watched analogue television channels delivered over the terrestrial transmission network. By the end of 2005, around 17.6 million homes could receive digital TV (on satellite, cable and digital terrestrial) in the UK – just under 70 per cent of all TV households(-1-). In addition by the end of 2005 more than 10.5 million Freeview boxes and integrated digital TVs, for digital terrestrial television, had been sold.
1.2 Digital terrestrial television is transmitted on television multiplexes. Multiplexes are licensed by Ofcom under the Broadcasting Act 1996 or, in the case of multiplex 1, granted by the Government. Three of the six multiplex licences (multiplexes B, C and D) contain a requirement that all the services they carry “shall be provided on a free to air basis save with the prior consent of Ofcom”. This requirement was inserted to reflect commitments made by the applicants for these licences when the licences were awarded in 2002.
1.3 Ofcom believes that there are good arguments to support a proposal to remove the ‘free to air only’ (FTA) requirement on multiplexes B, C and D on the basis that the requirement is no longer necessary and there are no compelling reasons to retain it. Ofcom has consulted on whether the requirement should be removed. The consultation was published 27 October 2005 and closed 12 January 2006. We received 21 responses from individuals and 12 from organisations. The responses were varied and ranged from strongly supporting the proposal to strongly opposing it.
1.4 Ofcom has concluded that the restriction on the services that can be carried on multiplexes B, C and D is no longer necessary, and can be removed without adverse effect on any other relevant Ofcom duties, including our duty to further the interests of citizens and consumers, promote competition, ensure efficient use of the radio spectrum and ensuring the availability of a wide range of TV and radio services from a sufficient plurality of providers. Ofcom is minded to remove the requirement in response to a request from each licensee, without further public consultation.
1.- The Communications Market: Digital progress report. Digital TV, Q4 2005, Ofcom, 17 March 2006