26 June 2012, London -- Safeguarding and innovating Digital Terrestrial Television
Richard Lindsay-Davies, Director General, DTG
Westminster eForum: The future of free-to-air TV
Good morning everyone.
Some of you may remember that around 18 months ago I spoke at one of these events to take you through the findings of the Digital TV Group's consultation on the future of UK free-to-air digital television.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Digital TV Group, we are a not-for-profit membership organisation. Formed fifteen years ago to bring the industry together to enable the successful delivery and evolution of digital TV and associated technologies.
It's often said that 24 hours is a long time in politics. If that's the case then 18 months is an eternity in technology. Today I am going to tell you how we have implemented the consultations recommendations and the key changes that have affected our sector since the publication of our report in December 2010.
Our consultation, which was open to industry and public regardless of their membership of the Group, told us that the DTT platform must evolve post switchover to achieve maximum consumer and industry benefit and above all, that the interest of the consumer must be placed at the heart of the industry's thinking.
We received a clear message that the Digital TV Group has a unique role to play in drawing together the whole industry to address post switchover challenges and ensure consumer benefit.
Today, around 90% of the country has switched to digital, with viewers in the Meridian region, Tyne-Tees, and Northern Ireland all due to switch by the end of October this year.
As switchover draws to a close, the whole industry can be extremely proud of one of the most successful projects of its kind in living memory.
? A project that has been strongly backed by government and regulators, supported by manufacturers and broadcasters and clearly communicated to the public by Digital UK, retailers and other stakeholders.
? And a project that has seen the introduction of high-quality platform brands and compelling service offerings across free-to-air and pay TV, terrestrial, satellite and cable and more recently internet TV.
But, as we predicted in 2010, these challenges remain. The completion of digital switchover means the end of switchover communications and the 'digital tick'—both of which have been a 'trusted guide' for both consumers and the industry.
Acting on feedback from our consultation, we've worked with Freeview to ensure that the requirements of the digital tick are absorbed into the Freeview, Freeview Plus and Freeview HD logo requirements. This means that manufacturers and retailers can be confident that equipment will continue to interoperate with UK broadcast services, and the viewer will be protected as the network continues to evolve.
Even as switchover draws to a close we will increasingly see the potentially disruptive effects of emerging technologies. As we have heard from Ilse, a key challenge will be the management of the introduction of fourth generation mobile data services and the use of "White Spaces" in the UHF spectrum.
Many responses to Ofcom's recent consultation on the introduction of 4G services drew attention to the risk of interference to digital terrestrial television services, especially for those who rely on communal or set-top aerials.
Innovation remains vital and the Digital TV Group recognises the economic and consumer benefits of 4G services. Because digital switchover was fully funded many underestimate the challenges of playing around with UHF spectrum. The carefully managed introduction of this new technology is in the best interest of everyone and we call on all stakeholders to manage this process carefully and successfully.
I am pleased to be able to inform you that DTG Testing, the digital television test centre founded by the digital television industry and operated on their behalf by the Digital TV Group, has agreed with the Government to use our state-of-the art test centre to simulate the effects of 4G interference on digital television receivers. As with digital switchover, the results of these tests will be used to inform key decisions regarding the roll-out of this new technology and I am very pleased that DCMS is supporting this important work.
Since the mid-nineties the Digital TV Group has worked closely with industry, regulators, and Government to introduce new technologies from widescreen, to digital terrestrial television to Freeview HD, and the recent trials of broadcast 3D. The Digital TV Group is expertly placed to assist with improvements to the way UHF spectrum is used and to ensure the range of industries involved, existing DTT consumers and those wishing to take advantage of new services reap the benefits.
Aside from 4G, the UK is the first country in Europe to utilise unused areas of the airwaves called 'White Spaces' that exist in spectrum bands used for digital terrestrial television.
This highly-efficient technology uses signals that can travel over large distances and which can easily pass through walls, making it suitable for a wide range of new consumer applications that could include:
? Wi-Fi with up to twice the range of today's technology
? Rural broadband
? and machine-to-machine communications.
Industry trials of this technology in Cambridge and in Bute in Scotland have proved highly encouraging, however, as with 4G, the well managed co-existence of this technology with the existing terrestrial service is crucial.
The Digital TV Group is already working as part of the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium in support of the introduction of a regime for the use of White Spaces in a way that is consistent with continued quality coverage of digital terrestrial television, while maximising the potential benefits to new users and to consumers.
Alongside new uses of spectrum we are already seeing new broadcast and broadband 'connected' devices entering the market. These devices offer a fantastic opportunity for viewers to supplement high-quality broadcast content with a host of on-demand services and other applications.
Like new spectrum usage, it is critical that the brand reputation of emerging connected television services is not eroded by a poor consumer experience.
The Digital TV Group is a unique organisation, bringing together broadcasters, technology providers, manufacturers, platform operators, charities and special interest groups to develop and publish the D-Book, the detailed technical specification for the Freeview and Freeview HD services.
Since Autumn 2009, the Digital TV Group has worked with our membership to enhance international standards for connected television to ensure that they meet the business requirements of UK service providers, and the high expectations of UK consumers.
The result is a profile, building on standards such as Open IP TV Forum and Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV but introducing the kind of enhanced features you would expect in a pioneering market such as the UK. These will include seamless ad insertion, access to Video on Demand content through traditional broadcast apps such as the programme guide, multiple Digital Rights Management support to ensure the provision of premium content and a richer user interface including HD graphics.
The next stage is to achieve true convergence for connected TV by integrating home networking solutions and enabling second screen use of laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
I know we have a packed agenda ahead and there is plenty of debate to come. Before I finish I would like to make you aware that we'll be picking up many of today's themes at a special event we are holding at the DTG's offices in London later this year. We'll be congratulating our members on milestones such as the completion of digital switchover and Freeview's 10th birthday and we'll be looking ahead to the post-switchover challenges, and opportunities, for both industry and viewer.
Last night I attended an event where Jeremy Hunt was speaking and I'd like to close with one of his quotes from the evening. He said we should turn Britain into the media and technology hub of Europe, combining the content strengths of Hollywood with the technology strengths of silicon valley.
So in summary:
? Fifteen years ago the UK began to lead the world in the deployment of digital TV services.
? Fifteen years on we continue to build on this great British success story by carefully managing the introduction and coexistence of new and at some times disruptive technologies.
? To ensure the UK remains a key player fifteen years from now, we have already begun to work with our membership on exciting new innovations, such as cloud TV, second screen technologies and Ultra high definition television.
Switchover is the beginning of the digital era and we must now build on the solid foundation of the hugely successful switchover programme and ensure the UK continues to take a leading role in the global development of emerging television technology with the interests of the viewer at the heart of our thinking.
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Hannah Langston, Press and Communications Officer, email@example.com, +44 (0)207 840 6528.
The Digital TV Group (DTG) is the focal point of the UK's digital TV industry. The Group, a not-for-profit membership organisation, brings the industry together to enable the successful delivery and evolution of digital TV and associated technologies.
The DTG publishes and maintains the technical specification for the UK's Freeview and Freeview HD platforms and Connected TV (the D-Book) and runs the digital television industry's test centre: DTG Testing.
To encourage international harmonisation, the DTG is engaged with DECE (Ultraviolet), ETSI, HbbTV and the Open IPTV Forum. The DTG allows Digital Europe to use areas of its copyright under licence.
DTG Testing tests digital TV products applying for the Freeview, Freeview+ and Freeview HD logos against the D-Book standard.
DTG Testing also manages the Engineering Channel for continuous maintenance of the UK's Freeview and Freesat platforms, and maintains a receiver collection for testing new transmission modes and software downloads.
The DTG and DTG Testing supports the development and deployment of next generation technologies such as LTE (4G), TV white spaces, second screen and home networking.