Leaders from all sectors of the UK's TV and broadcasting industry have slammed government proposals to auction off areas of the broadcast spectrum that will be freed up by the switch from analogue to digital in 2012.
Broadcasters, manufacturers and retailers unanimously agreed at the Digital TV Group annual summit in London yesterday that the auction would spell disaster for public service broadcasters.
The belief is that such a move would effectively end the possibility of transmitting high-definition content over free-to-air services.
Interested parties are all clamouring for space to deploy technologies like mobile TV, wireless broadband, public safety services, wireless microphones and of course high definition TV.
The Digital TV Group summit began with a speech by Margaret Hodge, a minister from the Department of Trade and Industry, which focused on usability, interoperability and energy efficiency within the digital TV industry.
Despite the minister's attempt to focus on the upcoming digital switchover, the speakers that followed were all firmly fixed on high definition and the potential repercussions of Ofcom's review should the auction go ahead.
Heads from Channel 4, Sony, Dixons Store Group and the BBC focused heavily on the future of public service broadcasters and the possibility of a two-tier system where HD content would only be available on subscriber services such as satellite and cable.
Andy Duncan, chief executive at Channel 4, spoke of the "broadcasting landscape" over the next several years, suggesting that if Freeview is to remain competitive it must be able to keep up with advances in technology, which includes HD.
If the free spectrum space was auctioned off, public service broadcasters would not be able to afford to bid, effectively and irreversibly ending the potential for HD content over free-to-air channels.
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