Jocelyn Hay, chairman and founder of lobby group Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV), has called on the Government to insist that digital terrestrial set-top box makers produce receivers able to receive broadcasts using both MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 compression systems.
Writing in The Independent, Hay said many people did not know that though Freeview is now the dominant means of receiving digital TV, "it is not yet transmitting in high definition, nor that, if as we hope, it does so in future, the current generation of set-top boxes will not be able to receive them. None of the early boxes are compatible with the new higher quality MPEG 4 television signals necessary to receive high-definition TV".
Hay said it was therefore "important for the Government to insist that, by the end of this year, all manufacturers produce set-top boxes with dual standards, so that they are future proof and consumers will not be faced with having to buy new equipment in two years time".
Hay also called on ministers to reserve some of the spectrum due to be liberated after digital switchover for high-definition broadcasts on Freeview. Her call echoes that of ITV executive chairman Michael Grade who last week offered a compromise solution in the campaign for spectrum to be set aside for HD on DTT.
Grade told culture secretary Tessa Jowell that public service broadcasters would be willing to help "drive the transition to a more efficient transmission standard on DTT" if the Government loaned them "a little over a multiplex of capacity". Once the new HD-compatible set-top boxes were sufficiently widespread the loaned spectrum could be handed back and auctioned.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Ofcom has delayed making a decision on the outcome of its digital dividend review consultation. Reports suggest the regulator will not be able to say whether it still intends to auction the entire spectrum block liberated by switchover until the autumn following an overwhelming response to its consultation. Ofcom had been expected to issue its decision this summer.
Links open in a new window. The DTG is not responsible for the content of other web sites.