U.K. sees digital growth in future

Report expects take-up to double in next 5 years

LONDON — U.K. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell Friday applauded the progress made by the industry towards achieving the Government’s aim of switching off the analog transmission signal between 2006 and 2010.

A joint ITC/BBC report presented to the Government expects take-up of digital TV to double in the next five years from its present 40%.

If take-up slows the report recommends options the Government could consider. The include: announcing a switchover date; mandating digital decoders in new TV sets; increasing the level of digital terrestrial coverage after switchover; and growth of a “free” satellite market — a result of public service channels broadcasting unencrypted on digital satellite. The BBC already plans to stop broadcasting an encrypted signal on BSkyB from May 30.

“The Government interventions suggested by the ITC and BBC are options we are already looking at,” said Jowell. “I believe digital TV is the future and if we the Government have to play a more forceful role to boost its take-up, rest assured, we will do.”

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