The UK government has failed to take into account the impact the Internet will have on traditional broadcasting in its decision to switch-off the analogue TV signal within 10 years, claim analysts.
Chris Smith, media and sport secretary has said that once the 95 per cent digital penetration mark has been reached he is "prepared to switch off the signal, provided the affordability has been met." The Government has said this could happen by the year 2010.
Analysts, however, maintain that the government has given no assurance it will be in a position to switch off analogue in the time period and has failed in appreciating the likely progress of the technology within the next decade.
"By 2010, a majority of UK households will be receiving television type services over high-speed Internet links," explained David Mercer, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. "This will put traditional broadcasting under threat and necessitate a completely new approach to media and broadcasting policy making."
Analysts maintain that Smith’s statement has merely paid lip service to the importance of the Internet in the UK’s digital future, whilst ignoring the impact online use will have on traditional broadcasting.
"What is needed is a comprehensive digital television transition strategy which takes account of the massive changes in household technologies," said Mercer. "It must also take into account the growing number of service providers which will compete in tomorrow's media distribution industry, including fixed and wireless communications providers, cable and satellite operators and terrestrial broadcast networks."
Analysts also say the government has ignored one of the most important barriers to analogue switch-off - multiple TV and VCR ownership. The average UK household has 3 or more TVs or VCRs which need to be upgraded or replaced by digital equipment. Today's digital TV service providers discourage upgrading of secondary equipment by charging substantial additional fees for in-house signal redistribution.
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