BBC report optimistic on digital switchover in UK

MUMBAI: It is not just the US that is moving towards a complete digital world, leaving analogue behind. The process of achieving a complete shift to a digital environment in the UK can be reached by 2010 with commitment from the government.

These are the BBC's deductions made in its statement in the Digital Switchover report published today.

The report states that the digital switchover is challenging but could be done within the government's timetable, given continued consumer enthusiasm and the right policy framework. The report has set out key recommendations that the Beeb believes are essential if the UK is to achieve switchover from analogue to digital television.

Firstly, the UK government has to make a clear commitment including establishing an appropriate regional switchover sequence.

Once this has been achieved, the BBC has proposed the creation of a dedicated and properly staffed organisation to manage the switchover programme. The UK government needs to recognise the risks of switchover for the industry and work towards underwriting the costs of any delays, the Beeb has said.

Additionally, significant investments are needed to support the marketing and communications campaigns that will be key in ensuring that the audience is able to make the transition to the fully digital world. The final part of the digital jigsaw, which has been identified in the report is the development of a viewer-friendly, non-subscription digital satellite option.

On this front, the beeb has expressed its willingness to work with other organisations as quickly as possible to begin to make a non-subscription digital satellite option a reality.

The report further noted that digital television today is available in over 54 per cent of UK homes with a significant contribution from Freeview. The BBC claimed that its investment in its digital channels and subsequent promotions has also played a pivotal role in exciting consumer interest in digital, tackling their initial confusion and assuaging their fears.

The report noted that digital television offers not simply more traditionally scheduled "linear" television channels, but also the capacity for data transmission and interactivity bringing, potentially, the benefits of e-commerce services as well as Government services delivered via electronic means. Digital television would also enable the BBC to offer licence payers it's full suite of services (TV channels, digital radio and interactivity).

The report stated that in the future the digital television receiver would become the most widespread means for consumers to access entertainment, education, news and e-commerce services as well as digital TV programmes and channels. While many households in Britain would never buy a computer digital TV offers a potentially ubiquitous, easy route to e-society services. By increasingly enhancing linear television, broadcasters have already helped to create a widespread consumer familiarity with interactive TV which e-government services should be able to build upon.

Once the UK has switched over to digital, spectrum currently used for analogue television could be freed up providing an opportunity for new, innovative multimedia services.

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