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Digital Broadcasting: Television

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) when the Switchover Programme Group decided to change the digital switchover programme alert from Red to Amber; and if he will place in the Library the minutes of the meeting when the decision was taken; (173931)

(2) when he was informed that on 9 August 2007 Digital UK issued a red status alert for the overall digital switchover programme; whether the information relating to the alert was made public; and if he will notify Parliament if any such further alert is issued;

(3) what the criteria are for a red status alert to be issued for the digital switchover scheme; what the current alert status is; and if he will make a statement.

Red, amber, green status reporting is a valuable internal management tool for focusing efforts on key operational or strategic issues to ensure effective delivery of switchover. In this case red status reflected a concern about tight timescales for the delivery of the Digital Switchover Help Scheme in Whitehaven.

Digital UK informed me that the switchover programme was likely to move to red status at a meeting on 8 August 2007 and at the same time set out the steps that the programme was taking to resolve the issue. Given that this was essentially an operational issue and that plans to address it were being put in place, it was not at that stage an issue for widespread concern which necessitated informing Parliament.

At the next meeting of the Switchover Programme Group sufficient action had been taken and the group agreed to revert to amber status. The relevant extract from the minutes of this meeting is given as follows:

The Digital UK Programme Office issues a status alert if a move to ‘red’ needs to be brought to the attention of the Switchover Programme Group before their next scheduled monthly meeting. Quarterly progress reports on the switchover programme, including its red/amber/green status, are published on:

All such changes in status and the implications of them, including whether to inform Parliament, will be considered on an individual basis depending upon the severity of the issue.

The current status of the switchover programme is amber. The criteria used by the Digital Switchover Programme for awarding red, amber and green status are:

Green: Good progress towards all milestones and objectives: no cause for concern.

Amber: Some cause for concern: one or two milestones missed and indications are that this will recur. Issues may exist, but corrective action identified and being taken.

Red: Major cause for concern: several milestones missed or about to be missed endangering programme objectives. Further milestones will be missed unless proactive steps taken and sustained action supported by the programme or programme-critical issues exist with no clear course of corrective action identified.

Switchover Programme Group: Extract from minutes of meeting held on 19 September 2007

Alex Pumfrey returned to the reasons why the Copeland Help Scheme was originally placed on red status on 13 August: (i) the need for reassurance that there was sufficient delivery and installer capacity to meet demand, which Peter White had confirmed there was; (ii) the need for a forward plan of activity, which has been shared; and (iii) assurance from DSHS that people have been given sufficient time to respond. Peter White noted that among the groups eligible for free help, 43 per cent. had responded, which indicated that people had had sufficient time to respond if they wished, and that low response was more likely to be attributable to the deterrent effect of the £40 charge or take-up of satellite. On this basis the group agreed to move the Copeland Help Scheme from red to amber status.