Mobile operators should meet the full cost of protecting TV channels that suffer interference from new 4G services.
At a parliamentary briefing, DTT platform Freeview called on Government to revise its proposals, calling for clarity on the levels of support being offered to consumers.
Broadcasters across Europe have repeatedly voiced concerns that signals from fixed base station towers might cause ‘downlink interference’, or signals emitted by mobile handsets, ‘uplink interference’.
Freeview, with 20 million homes served the largest of the UK’s digital platforms, believes the £180 million fund is insufficient to pay for countering the effects of interference does not go far enough to meet consumer needs. Based on figures calculated by Deloitte for the Ofcom consultation, however, industry estimates put the cost to consumers at up to £200 million to maintain the TV services they currently have.
Ilse Howling, managing director, Freeview, said: “The Government has committed to recouping the cost of protecting viewers from interference, using proceeds from the 4G mobile auction. However, this will still leave viewers to bear a substantial proportion of the cost. The mobile phone operators will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this new service, and we believe that they should pay to mitigate the television interference according to the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”
Freeview is particularly concerned that the Government will only supply free filters for the main TV set in the home. Latest BARB figures estimate the number of additional Freeview sets to be as high as 21 million.
Consumers living in multiple dwelling units will also be excluded from help, unless they are classified as vulnerable.
Support for the elderly is also causing concern – Freeview expressing concern that a survey of just 39 people over the age of 65 concluded the age bracket would find the installation of a filter straightforward.
The DCMS help scheme covers the over 75s and people who are registered disabled.