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Channel 3 and Channel 5 licence renewals: renew, extend ... or auction?

On 31 December 2014, the licences that ITV plc, STV, UTV and Channel 5 require to run their channels on buttons 3 and 5, with access to half of the second Freeview multiplex, require renewing.

On 31 December 2014, the licences that ITV plc, STV, UTV and Ch
published on UK Free TV

Today, Ofcom has published the legal "advise the Secretary of State" looking at the options for TV channels 3 and 5.

Since the formation of the ITV network in the 1950s, the licences to operate the services have been put up for auction with changes to the services happening in the 1960s, 1974, 1982 and 1993.

However, due to the digital switchover (and successful lobbying from ITV plc) the licences helf by ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5 have been renewed "automatically".

Ofcom’s report today considers whether the existing licence holders will be able to contribute, at a commercially sustainable cost, to public service broadcasting in the 10 years from 2015.

Ofcom says it will be looking at:

Delivering benefits to viewers

The licensees provide public service programming, such as news and current affairs, which is valued by viewers. In return, they receive benefits, such as the right to appropriate prominence on TV listing guides and access to spectrum to broadcast on digital-terrestrial television (Freeview).

In the report to the Secretary of State, Ofcom has outlined three credible options for the licences and considers that each could deliver benefits for TV viewers. These are

1. Renew existing licences

The licensees have told Ofcom that, in broad terms, their existing public service obligations could be sustainable in the next licence period*. Ofcom’s analysis shows the Channel 3 and 5 licensees could continue to make a sufficient contribution to public service broadcasting beyond 2015.

This includes the possibility of establishing a separate, stand-alone licence for Channel 3 in Wales. We also suggest that changes to the Channel 3 service received by viewers in the south of Scotland may be appropriate to ensure the provision of Scottish news in that area.

2. Auction new licences

Re-auctioning would open up licensing to a competitive process. It may also test whether potential bidders – including the current licensees – could consider fresh approaches to public service broadcasting.

3. Extend the current licences

Extending the current licences for a shorter period could allow for a full review of public service broadcasting as part of a future Communications Bill. It could also give Parliament a chance to consider how public service content could be delivered in a world changed by the growth of digital media.

Ofcom believes that the three options are credible. The decision now rests with the Secretary of State.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

9:19 AM

Channel 3 and 5 should be the HD versions and not the SD ones from this change.
Of course no common sense will be used by the powers that be.

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David's 306 posts GB flag

3:25 PM

Considering that HD boxes can be set to downscale to 576i when output to SD TVs, I certainly agree with your idea. All that is needed is enough people to have HD capable kit!

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Josh's 97 posts GB flag

6:13 PM

David: The multiplex capacity that is under Ofcom's control is on PSB2/D3+4, and this will have to be SD.

It certainly would make sense for Ofcom to insist that the "public service commitment" includes providing HD versions of Channel 3 and 5 on all platforms.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Thursday, 24 May 2012
Trevor harris

10:54 AM

I think it is very confusing for customers today. You can by an HD Ready TV without a DVB T2 tuner. I suspect many people have bought these sets believing they will be able to receive HD programmes.

When 625 transmissions started all new TVs had to have a UHF tuner. I guess if the government made such a law today the EU would object.

About 44% of sky subscritions include HD. I understand that about 80% of Freesat boxes are HD boxes. So HD will soon be in the majority on satellite. Freeview will never be able to compete in the long term with over 60 HD channels available on satellite. During the Olympics 25 extra free to air HD channels will be added.

I am suprised that so many people put up with SD picture quality. When the BBC did some viewing tests with BBC staff they found a significant number of people needed to go to an optition. So I suspect poor eye sight is one factor. The human brain also seems to compensate for low definition. After all many people found the 32 line Baird system quite entertaining. It does not help that freeview uses an inferior 1440x1080 pixels.

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Trevor harris's 367 posts GB flag
9:45 PM

The only real choice is 'Option 2', to fully auction the franchises once again. It's been 20 years, and this would certainly put to bed Hunt's ludicrous plan for a 'Channel 6' to replace what (essentially) ITV/C3 was created to do almost 60 years ago.

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StuartPlymouth's 14 posts GB flag
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Trevor harris

9:59 AM

The Independent stations were originally conceived as regional companys. This made it possible to change regions not considered to be performing. Now ITV is a national station things are very different. When regional stations closed they had no other way of transmitting. In this multi channel age ITV could carry on if it lost it's PSB licence. The value of having a PSB licence has certainly been reducing. In fact ITV has been moving away from free to air broadcasting with ITV 2,3,4 HD being part of the Sky package. Ofcom might have trouble finding a company to replace ITV in any case.

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Trevor harris's 367 posts GB flag
Monday, 28 May 2012

11:02 AM

Trevor harris: Looking at the Ofcom "advice", the general principle seems to be that if re-advertised then Channel 3 would be split into four licences: one for England, one for Scotland, one for Wales and one for Northern Ireland.

This would split the Wales and West licence apart, and also the Border licence.

It is worth noting, of course, that if another bidder for Channel 3 won the "England" licence, then "ITV 1" would have to relocate itself to a commercial multiplex, and take the EPG slot for ITV2 (6, 118, 113).

This would mean that ITV disappears from homes with just "PSB" coverage, and ITV 1 HD would go from Freeview HD.

However, unlike the last time, where I watched at the BT Tower the actual demise of the "unseated" C3 companies, ITV plc could easily continue to broadcast to most homes.

The same applies to Channel 5 - if the "new" Channel 5 company got a PSB2 slot and the "5" position on the EPG, the existing Channel 5 could continue, but on 6/118/113 using the space on COM4/SDN.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Trevor Wilson
1:04 AM

Why is it that i live in Datchworth in Hertfordshire and on sky my ITV 1 and ITV +1
are Anglia yet ITV 1 HD is Meridian.

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Trevor Wilson's 1 post GB flag
Trevor's: mapT's Freeview map terrainT's terrain plot wavesT's frequency data T's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Dave Lindsay

10:09 AM

Trevor Wilson: Because there are fewer ITV1 HD regions than there are for ITV1. See ITV1+1, ITV1HD, BBC One HD regional services on Freeview | - independent free digital TV advice

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 30 May 2012

1:00 AM

Of cause it depends on the size of your TV screen and picture as to the real benefit of so called HD - lets face it in the 1940's 405 line black and white (VHF) was referred-to as 'High Definition'(compared to 30 lines vertical it certainly was) - in the 1950's and to the late 1960's we had one or two TV stations (BBC or ITA) late 60's BBC2 on 625 lines UHF only still b/w; but because the new 21" TVs produced a degraded 405 line picture 625 (UHF) had to come, meanwhile Hollywood and Pinewood were loosing audiences even of full colour star studied movies to say at home TV, so into cinemas came wide screen as it was thought TV would 'never be able to show Cinemascope' etc and in USA NTSC Color TVs were expensive and big, full of tubes and 'Never The Same Color' at each scan.
After a couple of decades when TV was in a sort of limbo in the UK after BBC and ITV had started in 625 then PAL colour along came Sky dishes and BSB 'table mats' but then came the clever move of the TV manufacturers (90% non-British) to push the UK public into wide screen , big screen, digital , p.c. linked , led and lcd (young chaps in TV shops explained to customers CRT is dead - I suspect half didn't even know what CRT stood for!) anyway it was away from the box in the corner to the flat screen hanging on the wall time (bad for your eyes and your neck)so to the tip with the 28" and to Currys for a 50" so you could watch the movies meant for the cinemas - what comes around goes around .......

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Rog's 38 posts GB flag
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