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Broadcast Frequencies

Volume 165: debated on Friday 19 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to ensure that consumers are made fully aware of the full implications of the broadcast frequencies reshuffle in respect of receiving equipment; and if he will make a statement.

The Green Paper on Radio in 1987 and the White Paper on Broadcasting in 1988 alerted viewers and listeners to our plans for the future of broadcasting. The changes proposed will not affect the frequencies used by existing independent local radio stations. But two medium wave networks will be reassigned from the BBC to facilitate the introduction of national commercial radio. The BBC is accordingly planning to place greater reliance on VHF/FM, and has increased the rate of building new FM transmitters.BBC Radio has started informing listeners of its plans, including information about a new national sports and education network, Radio 5, which will be launched on 27 August 1990 on the AM frequencies currently used by Radio 2. It is understood that the BBC intends to increase its promotional efforts during the year as the changes draw nearer, and has formulated plans to ensure that listeners are fully advised on the new arrangements.Correspondence received both at the Home Office and at the BBC indicates that there is already considerable public awareness of the changing situation, and we shall continue to have regard to listeners' needs as frequency planning proceeds.As for television, we believe most viewers realise that they will require new receiving equipment if they wish to see the new services which are being introduced. The White Paper also pointed out that most video cassette recorders and some home computers would need to be retuned in areas in which Channel 5 was receivable, irrespective of whether their owners chose to receive the new service. But it added that any costs incurred might be met by Channel 5 licensees.