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Merriman Report

Volume 31: debated on Thursday 11 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the recently published report of the independent review of the radio spectrum under the chairmanship of Dr. Merriman about the future use of television bands I and III.

I am indebted to Dr. Merriman and his colleagues for producing so quickly their careful and thorough analysis of the issues involved. The report recommends that TV bands I and III should be used for a combination of land mobile radio services and broadcasting ancillary services used for operational control and programme production, with priority where necessary going to land mobiles. The report also recommends that the closure of the obsolete 405-line transmitters, at present scheduled for completion in 1986, should be accelerated to allow those changes to take effect from the beginning of 1985.The Government accept the recommendation as to the future use of these bands, and work will begin as soon as possible on the detailed planning of the bands for mobile radio use and on the development of a frequency allocation plan for the broadcast ancillary services. The possibility of giving the radio amateur service an appropriate allocation in the 50–54 MHz band will be examined in the course of the detailed planning of band I as Dr. Merriman and his colleagues have suggested. The implications of accelerating the programme. of closures of the 405-line transmitters are being urgently studied and a further statement will be made as soon as possible.In the light of this decision the provisional allocation of frequencies for radiotelephones, which I announced on 15 June 1982, can be confirmed. This spectrum will be made progressively available in accordance with the notes issued by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry for the guidance of companies applying for licences to run a national radiotelephone system.