Digital TV or Digital Television in the United Kingdom

 

Testimonials


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The United Kingdom (1998), Sweden (1999) and Spain (2000) were the first to launch DTT with platforms heavily reliant on pay television. All platforms experienced many starter problems, in particular the British and Spanish platforms which failed financially. Nevertheless, Boxer, the Swedish pay platform which started in October 1999, proved to be very successful.

DTT in the United Kingdom was launched in November 1998 as a primarily subscription service branded as ON digital, a joint venture between Granada Television and Carlton Communications, with only a few channels being available free to air. ON digital soon ran into financial difficulties with subscriber numbers below expectations, and in order to attempt to reverse their fortunes, it was decided that the ITV and ON digital brands should align, and the service was rebranded ITV Digital in 2001. Despite an expensive advertising campaign, ITV Digital struggled to attract sufficient new subscribers and in 2002 closed the service. After commercial failure of the Pay TV proposition it was relaunched as the free-to-air Freeview platform in 2002. Top Up TV, a lite pay DTT service, became available in 2004.

DSO has begun in the UK in some areas and will begin soon in others and over the next there years will be completed in all by the end of 2012. One multiplex for public service broadcasters has been given freed up and given over to HD on DTT and some areas will be able to receive Freeview HD in advance of digital switchover using the new 2nd generation DVB-T2 and MPEG4 set top boxes according to Freeview.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland the establishment of DTT has been somewhat problematic. Initially, in the mid-1990s its TV was the sole applicant for a digital terrestrial television license under the provisions of the Irish Broadcasting Act 2001, which also established Telífís na Gaeilge, now TG4. It proposed a triple play deployment with Broadband, TV and Digital Radio services. However, following financial difficulties with other DTT deployments, most particularly in the neighbouring UK and in Spain and Portugal, it's TV failed to get its license conditions varied or to get a time extension to securing funding and its license was eventually withdrawn for non-performance.

Under subsequent legislation in May 2007, RTÉ and the spectrum regulator (ComReg) and the broadcasting regulator BCI (soon BAI) were mandated to invite applications during 2008 under the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007and RTÉ and the BCI received licenses from ComReg and the BCI advertised and invited multiplex submissions by 2 May 2008. RTÉ Networks is required to broadcast in digital terrestrial TV (aerial TV) under the new Act and received an automatic license through the RTÉ Authority (soon the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in its place) and will upgrade part of its network over a 5 year period. It will also make this network available to the commercial multiplex winner for rental of capacity. 1 Mux (group of channel radio wave space) will provide the services of the public service broadcaster have a 98% population coverage. The other three multiplexes will have a 90% population coverage. Following ASO 1 addition PSB mux and 1 or more commercial muxes will be made available for DTT, mobile television and other services.

The BCI (becomes BAI 31 September) received 3 conditional applications to operate the 3 muxes, which were presented in public on 12 May 2008. It decided in principle to allocate the license to Boxer DTT Ltd, a consortium made up of the Swedish pay-DTT operator Boxer and the media group Communicorp at its board meeting on 21 July 2008. On 20 April 2009, the BCI revealed that OneVision had been the second placed applicant and that following Boxer's withdrawal, it intended to ascertain whether it was still interested in operating the DTT multiplexes.

A Houses of the Oireachtas Channel Oireachtas TV (reportedly shelved in December 2008) and Irish Film Channel (may be shelved) Commissions will also be established under the Broadcasting Act 2009 as new public service broadcasters. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will replace the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and the RTÉ Authority and include Awards and Advisory Committees once a statutory instrument gives effect to the Broadcasting Act 2009to establish the BAI. That act deals with Analogue switchover.

Boxer DTT Ireland, tentative start date was January in 2009 in Ireland. Standards chosen are MPEG4/H.264 and DVB-T. Boxer TV Access has a 50% holding in Boxer Ireland. It remains to be seen if Onevision as second placed applicant or the third will take up the pay DTT contract with the BCI that would also facilitate joint co-ordinated DTT Free-to-air and commercial DTT launches in time. A DTT Information Campaign was announced by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Irish Government Department to launch in March 2009 ahead of the September 2009 launch of Irish DTT. As May 2009, the information campaign has not launched and has been postponed until at least late autumn 2009 or later to be undertaken by the BCI (BAI) with support of the Department. OneVision has been offered the opportunity to operate the pay-service pay DTT. It is expected that this service will launch in early 2010 depending on whether negotiations conclude successfully between Onevision, the BCI and Onevision & RTÉ Networks Ltd.