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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Does digital terrestrial have a future?


The number of parties interested in the available "multiplex" licences suggests there is definitely a viable future for digital terrestrial television (DTT).

But, given the failure of ITV Digital, it is likely this future will be either wholly or partly as a free-to-air platform.


One of the major causes of ITV Digital's decline was its patchy signal

Following ITV Digital's collapse, some observers suggested that DTT could not succeed as a pay-TV service in direct competition with Sky Digital.

It has also been pointed out that no country has three successful pay-TV platforms, and so DTT alongside digital satellite and cable may be simply a pay-platform too far for the UK.

Less room

One of the major causes of ITV Digital's decline was its patchy signal, which left many households unable to receive pictures.

Research carried out by Logica for the Independent Television Commission suggested at the start of June that the quality of the signal could be improved if the number of channels carried was decreased.


Many households would have to upgrade their TV aerials before they could receive the digital signal

This finding could mean less room for pay-TV services on the digital terrestrial platform alongside free-to-air channels.

The Logica report also bore bad news for the digital switchover - planned by the government for 2010 at the latest.

Unlikely target

The government has set the target of 95% of households switching to digital services before switching off the analogue signal.

Even with the signal boost suggested by Logica, many households would have to upgrade their TV aerials before they could receive the digital signal.

Even then, nearly 25% of households would still be unable to receive it. If the signal cannot be improved, the 95% target is therefore unlikely to be achieved.


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13 Jun 02 | Business
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