Policy and Practice in the Americas, Europe and Japan
Edited by Martin Cave and Kiyoshi Nakamura
Chapter 6: The Development of Digital Television in the UK
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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