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All posts by Ben Armine

Below are all of Ben Armine's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.


The article starts with the question "What constitutes television, what counts as free television and how do people view the United Kingdom?".

Only a small minority of channels offer the option of programme content that was originally a terrestrial broadcast also being delivered by streaming services. Not a great deal has changed; the need for the information provided by this website remains. Streaming services employ a different means of delivery and can quite legitimately be excluded from consideration.

The use or misuse of the word "free" is pure semantics, as there is a cost in providing the content. It is a very fine line and open to interpretation whether a television or computer screen can display a program without having paid the safety net of a licence fee. Perhaps redefining the web site as UK-Free To Air-TV might assist in clarifying the task, particularly by excluding all streaming services. The content from terrestrial and satellite services is free but the right to operate the receiving equipment has to be paid for in the form of a licence fee or subscription.

The problem of a universal service paid for by the same universal fee refuses to be put to bed. At the moment there are 31 major transmitters in England, 9 in Scotland, 7 in Wales and 2 in Northern Ireland that still have to be upgraded with COM 7 and COM 8 muxes. The absence of the upgrade means people served by those transmitters are not enjoying the same benefits, although paying the same licence fee, as those served by the upgraded transmitters. That is not to forget those served by relays where the number of programme channels delivered is approximately half the number available from a main transmitter.

It is going to be a long while before the inequalities in the system are smoothed out, so the web site has a substantial role to play now and in the future. Many thanks to the owner for producing and maintaining such an excellent "Free to Screen" service.

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