UK Digital Switch-over to Cost UK£1 billion

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.

Ofcom’s Digital Switch Over Report

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?