Digital Broadcasting

Digital Broadcasting

Policy and Practice in the Americas, Europe and Japan

Edited by Martin Cave and Kiyoshi Nakamura

Digital television is transforming both broadcasting and, as a result of convergence, the larger world of communications. The impending analogue switch-off will have a major impact on households all over the developed world. Digital Broadcasting considers the effects of digital television on the availability, price and nature of broadcast services in the Americas, Europe and Japan. It shows how this depends upon what platforms – cable, satellite, fixed or wireless broadband – countries have available for use and also upon government policies and regulatory interventions.

Chapter 6: The Development of Digital Television in the UK

Martin Cave

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict


Martin Cave After a rather shaky start, the penetration of digital television in the United Kingdom had by mid-2005 reached 60 per cent of households, divided among digital cable, digital satellite and digital terrestrial (DTT) platforms. In addition, by the end of 2005 more than 99 per cent of UK households had access to DSL technologies providing broadband using the telephone company’s (BT’s) copper wires. Although plans to provide IPTV on this platform are still in their infancy, it too will soon be providing additional competitive pressure. This chapter describes how the UK came to be in this relatively enviable position, and will focus on the close interaction between broadcasting policy and spectrum policy. The first section gives a brief account of the development of TV broadcasting in the UK. The second section outlines the growth and development of digital television. The third section describes the development of spectrum policy including issues associated with digital switchover, for broadcasting, The final section contains conclusions. THE DEVELOPMENT OF UK ANALOGUE TELEVISION1 In common with those in most European countries, Britain’s broadcasting system was quickly assimilated into the public sector. The first regular radio broadcasts in 1920 were undertaken by equipment manufacturers which formed a broadcasting consortium in 1922. But, following a government inquiry, the private British Broadcasting Company was in 1927 converted to a public British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), financed by a licence fee levied on reception equipment, under the direction of the Board of Governors appointed by the Government, but enjoying...

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