Developed countries struggle for full digital switch

MUMBAI: As India prepares for the implementation of conditional access system (CAS), there is news that developed countries are finding it difficult to meet deadlines for full digital switchover.

The UK will not meet its aim of being the first country in Europe to reach full digital switchover, according to a digitalsky report published today.

A firm called Datamonitor predicts that the UK government will not reach its target of turning off analogue TV signals between 2006 - 2010. It adds that Portugal or a Scandinavian country might actually steal a march over the UK.

A Datamonitor anaylst was quoted as saying that it would be very challenging to switch off analogue in the UK by 2010.

The report also states that countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Portugal all have a "better balance" between the three digital platforms -- cable, satellite and terrestrial. In the UK, 6.3 million currently have Sky (digital satellite), 2.1 million cable and 1.3 million Freeview (digital terrestrial), representing 40 per cent of households, adds the report.

The firm expects 18 million households to be receiving television digitally by 2007, however, a point at which it anticipates Freeview will be catching up with Sky numberwise.

The collapse of ITV Digital has set back digital takeup by a year, Datamonitor claims, but adds that the UK government still insists it is on track.

The report says that key challenges facing the UK government before digital switch over could include:

Informing consumers: raising awareness of the three key tests of availability, affordability and access to digital services and informing consumers about the benefits of digital television;

Improving the digital offer: raising awareness of free-to-air services and equipment and delivering improved free-to-air public service broadcasting; and 

Removing barriers to take-up: ensuring that a cheap and ungradable free-to-air service is available and improving accessibility for viewers with physical and sensory impairments and older people.

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