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Digital Broadcasting

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 29 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what discussions he has had with telecommunications providers on the loss of ITV channels as a result of digital switchover in Wales; (294317)

(2) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the loss of ITV channels as a result of digital switchover in Wales.

The “loss” of television channels to some viewers has occurred not because of the digital switchover, but because of a national re-tune. The Broadcasters decided to go ahead with the re-organisation of the Freeview platform in order to make space for the introduction of new technology to enable High Definition services on the digital terrestrial television (or Freeview) platform. It has also increased the availability of Channel Five to the point where it can now be received in almost all households across the UK—98.5 per cent. An estimated 500,000 Freeview homes will be able to see Channel Five for the first time after re-tuning.

Around 78,000 viewers in Wales, who receive their transmissions via a relay station, may have lost access to ITV 3 or ITV 4 following the re-tune but many viewers will of course have gained Channel Five and HD capability. These channels are not necessarily permanently unavailable as there are alternative means of accessing both. Viewers can find out how to do so by contacting Digital UK via their website at:

www.digitaluk.co.uk

or the helpline on 08456 505050 or by investing in alternative platforms such as Freesat, cable or satellite—not all of which require a subscription.