The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five have had a series of meetings to discuss the UK’s switch-over to digital broadcasting. High on the agenda has been the total cost of the operation, from promoting the switch-over to public to popping round to old peoples’ houses to install a free set top box.
So far the estimate is about UK£1 billion (€1.5 billion), but like a hen party in a Indian restaurant, there’s still quite a lot of squabbling left over who needs to pay for what.
The three commercial broadcasters are quite keen on the government and BBC picking up the majority of the bill. Indeed, ITV hopes that most of its expenses will be offset by a reduction in the cost of the broadcast license that it pays for currently.
New broadcast licenses will be issued by Ofcom in September, and switch-over will feature prominently in them.
Many of the forthcoming costs are likely to go down – digital receivers are becoming more popular and are falling in price, so the installed base will rise rapidly on its own. By 2012 many of the households currently refusing to switch to digital may well have adopted digital television themselves as they become more accustomed to it.