Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards has defended the regulator’s stance towards high definition television on the DTT platform. In the Ofcom Annual Lecture, delivered last night to the Westminster Forum, Richards said that Ofcom was far from indifferent to HD and remained firmly “platform neutral and pro-competition” in its approach, giving the clearest indication yet that HD would be made available to terrestrial homes.
“We remain open to argument and evidence for a non market allocation where there is an identifiable public interest that clearly outweighs the opportunity cost associated with it,” said Richards. “In terms of the DDR [Digital Dividend Review], we have yet to reach a conclusion, although, to date, we have not been persuaded of the argument that the best way to maximise the social and economic benefit of the released spectrum is simply to gift some or all of the released spectrum to broadcasters.”
Richards stressed Ofcom was continuing to work with broadcasters to ensure that spectrum was used in the most efficient manner possible. “For some time now Ofcom has been developing a proposal which would enable us to clear an entire multiplex and convert this to an improved compression and transmission standard.” He said the proposal gave the possibility of HD services on Freeview, using existing capacity, towards the end of 2009.
Proposals, which Richards said would be less costly than anything else currently on the table, will be put forward before the end of the year.