LONDON: Already beset by a bust bank and the government's 'mislaying' of millions of personal records, the long suffering British public must now confront a plethora of new digital terrestrial channels and allied services.

These, to quote UK communications regulator Ofcom, will "benefit citizens and consumers" (each, apparently, a different species).

According to an Ofcom consultation document issued Wednesday, the proposed upgrade will create extra capacity allowing HD television channels on free-to-air digital platform Freeview as early as 2009.

It will be achieved without using additional radio spectrum, a limited and therefore valuable resource which the government intends to sell-off when digital switchover is completed in 2012.

Ofcom paints a rosy picture of benefits all round ...

  • Viewers, who will be able to access an array of new channels and services via their existing TV aerials;

  • Broadcasters, who will be able to provide a greater range of services while continuing to deliver the channels that are currently available on Freeview;

  • The UK economy, by making better use of the spectrum reserved for broadcasting. It is calculated that the upgrade could bring benefits upward of £4 billion ($8.26bn; €5.59bn) to the UK economy over twenty-five years. [Or around one tenth of the estimated cost to taxpayers for bailing-out failed bank Northern Rock.]
The extra capacity is intended for public service broadcasting, and organisations with PSB status (the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and S4C) - are invited to state how they would use the extended capacity.

To view the full consultation document, click here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff