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Digital Broadcasting: Weather

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what performance standards apply to the BBC with respect to ensuring continuity of service on the digital platform during extreme weather incidents; and what the contractual timeframe requirement is for achieving restoration of service following such weather incidents; (154191)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of residences which suffered sustained loss of the BBC digital signal (a) during and (b) in the week following the recent extreme weather conditions; and if he will make a statement.

This is a matter for the BBC. The BBC’s charter specifies that the BBC must do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure viewers, listeners and other users are able to access the UK public services that are intended for them. The charter does not set specific performance standards in relation to continuity of service in the event of extreme weather incidents and Government have made no assessment of the number of residences which suffered loss of the BBC digital signal. I understand from the BBC that they work hard to restore transmission services in the event of any disruption as soon as possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the reliability of the digital signal transmitting both radio and television broadcasts in periods of and following extreme weather conditions; and what plans he has to ensure security of service following digital switchover. (154192)

This Department has not made any assessment of the aforementioned issues. However, there is extensive research available about digital broadcasting characteristics.

The technology used for broadcasting digital radio and television signals has been standardised by the European Standards body ETSI and allows broadcasters to strike a balance between robustness in adverse reception conditions against the number of services that can be broadcast.

Digital television signals are constrained at present so as not to cause interference to analogue services. This can lead to digital appearing to perform unfavourably. After switchover, power levels for digital signals will be boosted to their full capacity.