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Digital Terrestrial Television

Volume 268: debated on Tuesday 12 December 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will impose a universal service obligation on broadcasters on the introduction of digital terrestrial television. [5240]

The term "universal service obligation" is used in telecommunications to mean a requirement on a provider to enable consumers, regardless of where they live, to be connected to networks at an affordable price. There is no exact parallel with digital terrestrial television, where constraints on frequency availability mean that it will not be possible in the short-term for all new services to be made available to all consumers in the United Kingdom.The Government's policy document, "Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting", Cm 2946, published on 10 August, made clear that two of the key criteria on which applications from prospective multiplex providers would be judged would be their proposals to maximise the number of viewers who can be reached by digital terrestrial television, and their proposals to promote the take-up of digital receiving equipment, including through ensuring that it is made available at an affordable price. Analogue television transmissions will be maintained until a broadly similar proportion of the population as is now able to receive them can receive digital broadcast. No one will lose services that they are currently able to receive.