Switchover by 2010 'possible' says BBC



Government and industry MUST work together if digital switchover is to be achieved by 2010.

That's the conclusion of a report issued today (26 April) by the BBC - Progress Towards Achieving Digital Switchover (link to BBC web site). It was immediately welcomed by Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, who said: "This Government is absolutely committed to working with the industry to achieve digital switchover. The potential rewards, including more choice for consumers and more space for new services, are too great for us not to be ... "

The BBC report sets out key recommendations that the Corporation believes are essential if the UK is to achieve switchover from analogue to digital television.

Foremost, switchover can be achieved within the Government's timetable if it makes a clear commitment including establishing an appropriate regional switchover sequence.

Once this has been achieved, the BBC is also proposing the creation of a dedicated and properly staffed organisation to manage the switchover programme.

Additionally, significant investment must be secured to support the marketing and communications campaigns that will be key to ensuring that the audience is able to make the transition to the fully digital world.

The final part of the digital jigsaw identified in the report is the development of a viewer-friendly, non-subscription digital satellite option. On this, the Corporation welcomes the opportunity to work with other organisations as quickly as possible to begin to make a non-subscription digital satellite option a reality.

The BBC's Director of Marketing, Andy Duncan, stressed this last point saying "By working with like-minded partners we would like to see an additional route to digital access - free-to-air digital satellite - become a viable and attractively simple option. This will ensure all our audiences can have access to the BBC's comprehensive portfolio of digital services and the fully digital world."

Ms Jowell's statement was very bullish about the prospects for switchover:

"The fact that half of homes in the UK now have access to digital TV shows there is a considerable appetite for the product out there. This provides a solid foundation for continuing the drive towards full switchover.

"Of course there are obstacles along the way, many of which are highlighted in this report. We are already considering what interventions are needed from Government and industry to overcome these in the journey to switchover. This report will help us focus on the challenges ahead."

She pointed out a number of key Government initiatives.

Designing a digital television logo for DTV equipment to help the public identify compliant equipment.
Working on a switchover pilot.
Looking into potential solutions to problems associated with recording from digital channels.
It has set up a Consumer Experts Group to advise the Government on the key concerns of consumers.
Liaising with retailers to ensure that consumers are able to buy equipment with the help of trained staff, giving platform-neutral advice.