Ofcom has published a draft Code of Practice for broadcasters in preparation for the UK's switchover to digital television.
The draft sets out the actions that broadcasters must take to protect existing viewers of analogue and digital terrestrial television services, while allowing them to switch to digital in a timely and cost-effective manner.
"Ofcom's draft Code is designed to ensure that broadcasters and transmission companies make appropriate preparations to minimise any potential disruption to viewers from the implementation of the upgrade programme," said Ofcom.
The digital switchover is scheduled to take place in the UK between 2008 and 2012, in accordance with the regional timetable set out by the government in September 2005.
"The Code notes that the public service broadcasters are obliged to ensure that they substantially match their current analogue terrestrial television coverage through digital terrestrial television means," said the Ofcom document.
"Ofcom proposes that communities normally covered by existing terrestrial transmissions should not lose this service at switchover."
The industry watchdog said that an extensive programme of upgrading needs to begin on the UK's transmission infrastructure in order for the timetable to be to achieved.
This could include the removal of existing digital antennas to construct new digital switchover-ready antennas, for example where space needs to be made for the mast.
However, where the new masts could be built without removing existing structures, this would be preferable.
The public and other interested parties have until 6 March 2007 to comment on the draft Code of Practice.
Broadcasters will be required to comply with the Code once it has been finalised.
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