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Topic Title: Has the EU banned analogue television broadcasting?
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Created On: 06 May 2013 02:07 PM
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 06 May 2013 02:07 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

I have never managed to find out the true reason why analogue terrestrial television was switched off and replaced with Freeview but now I have encountered scraps of information that the EU was behind it.

Digital terrestrial started life in the UK in 2008 as the ill-fated On Digital (later renamed ITV Digital) encrypted pay TV service by Carlton and Granada to circumvent the existing satellite and cable companies. Their intention was to complement analogue terrestrial broadcasts rather than replace them completely. After the collapse of ITV Digital in 2002, the BBC stuck their fingers in and reincarnated it as Freeview which is an unencrypted and free to view service, almost the exact opposite of On Digital.

A few years later the government announces that analogue terrestrial broadcasts will be switched off. The official reasons include moving with technology, more TV channels, and to allow part of the radio spectrum to be sold to mobile phone companies. I recently noticed a discussion on the Democracy Forum that the EU was behind the analogue switch off as part of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Does anybody know more about this?

Something I am aware of is that the pro-EU but Eurosceptic Green Party was opposed to the analogue switch off and wanted analogue terrestrial broadcasts to continue indefinitely so long as there was a consumer demand for them. They don't seem to have mentioned any EU legislation.
 07 May 2013 04:02 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

For anyone interested the Directive is here:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUr...ELEX:32010L0013:EN:NOT

And no, it does not ban analogue. Clause 14 does have a woolly but well-intentioned bit about
The Commission has adopted the initiative 'i2010: European Information Society' to foster growth and jobs in the information society and media industries. This is a comprehensive strategy designed to encourage the production of European content, the development of the digital economy and the uptake of ICT, against the background of the convergence of information society services and media services, networks and devices, by modernising and deploying all EU policy instruments: regulatory instruments, research and partnerships with industry. (my emphasis)

I suppose if you were really determined you could read that as "ban analogue" rather than (as was obviously intended) support growth in the engineering and media industries. Just as the IET keeps going on about being determindly digital, but hopefully they don't really mean they intend to fight for bans on analogue!

So far, the government is making money from selling off the analogue airspace, and also from the extra TV companies who are filling up the digital airspace (presumably at least some of them are paying some tax ) , we now have half decent digital signals as they are now up to full power now the analogue systems are off, and we do not have the waste from two systems providing the same signal. Oh, and we can still get TV without having to pay Rupert Murdoch.

But apart from that, what has digital TV done for us or the UK Government...

P.S. I personally was quite happy with four channels of analogue TV (although I do watch quite a lot of BBC 4) and it does offend my simple approach to engineering that it now takes a computer to do what used to take a handful of valves. But a) I can see for the reasons above why the Government wanted to go that way and b) there would have been riots if other EU countries had it and we didn't!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 07 May 2013 09:28 PM
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normcall

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Then there is the higher power requirements for processing of digital signals, the lowering of quality and the proliferation of 'sales' channels, 'repeat' channels - even to the extent of repeating one hour later.
Original broadcasting has not been helped on bit, so anyone know of any real benefit other than degraded programming/quality and making lots of money for both the regulatory bodies and advertisers?

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Norman
 08 May 2013 10:43 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: normcall
the lowering of quality and the proliferation of 'sales' channels, 'repeat' channels - even to the extent of repeating one hour later.

Now don't knock the +1 channels, as someone who actually doesn't watch much TV I find it even more frustrating when I miss the odd thing I do want to see, and +1 has helped many a time. Of course, this only applies if they are not using up bandwidth that could otherwise be used for original channels, but then that's the point of digital that they aren't.

Original broadcasting has not been helped on bit,

This is a very complex point which would need a media business analyst to discuss properly, but the fact that original programme companies now have many more opportunities to sell their product certainly has great opportunities to help fund original material.

so anyone know of any real benefit other than degraded programming/quality and making lots of money for both the regulatory bodies and advertisers?

The fact that we do have more choice, and actually there is some very good stuff hidden in there. (When I counted up more carefully I was surprised how many "non-traditional" channels that I, as someone who only watches an hour or so of TV a day - if that - actually watch.)

I am just incredibly grateful that we still have free terrestrial TV in any form, we could easily have ended up with having to pay for satellite services.

Originally posted by: g3xoi
And you cannot, by default, choose which channels and transmitters you download.

Yes but you can choose what you watch. As a vegetarian I would be quite happy if my local supermarket didn't stock meat, but I still manage to avoid it

Originally posted by: normcall
Then there is the higher power requirements for processing of digital signals,

Now this is interesting, I would be interested to know whether the gross power consumption of analogue TV (transmitters and receivers) was higher or lower than digital.

What was sad was the number of perfectly good analogue TVs that got junked either because they did not have a SCART input - convertors with RF outputs were ridiculously expensive - or because people were badly advised. I didn't like the way the Freeview message was "if your analogue TV has a SCART socket it may work if you're lucky" rather than "if your analogue TV has a SCART socket it may not work if you are extremely unlucky" (in fact I don't know any reason why any wouldn't work, I never had any problems at all, but I'm happy to be corrected).

Oh, and it is nice that I can now watch Channel 4 in the rain! Seriously, with analogue every time it rained we lost C4.

I can't believe that as an analogue designer I'm sitting here defending digital systems...

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 11 May 2013 11:08 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
Now this is interesting, I would be interested to know whether the gross power consumption of analogue TV (transmitters and receivers) was higher or lower than digital.


A few months ago I raised the question about how changes in technology have affected domestic energy consumption but nobody has managed to come up with answers. The situation is complicated by the fact that the change from analogue to digital TV also coincides with a large consumer change from CRT to flat screen technologies.

Arqiva almost certainly has the answers to the power consumption of transmitters because they operate them. According to my son's technical knowledge it is also a function of many variables such as spectral efficiency of the RF signal and efficiency of the power amplifier stage of the transmitter. Digital TV uses 64 QAM which requires a linearised transmitter (like PAL does because it uses AM) which will reduce the efficiency compared with pure phase modulation like QPSK.

What was sad was the number of perfectly good analogue TVs that got junked either because they did not have a SCART input - convertors with RF outputs were ridiculously expensive - or because people were badly advised. I didn't like the way the Freeview message was "if your analogue TV has a SCART socket it may work if you're lucky" rather than "if your analogue TV has a SCART socket it may not work if you are extremely unlucky" (in fact I don't know any reason why any wouldn't work, I never had any problems at all, but I'm happy to be corrected).


The prospect of scrapping large numbers of perfectly good TVs was one of the reasons why the Green Party opposed the analogue switch off. The exact number of TVs scrapped due to the analogue switch off is unknown but could have topped the 10 million mark and don't forget all the video recorders and old TV aerials added to the junk pile. High end TVs generally had SCART sockets in 1985, and most low end and table top TVs had them by 1990. This means that the majority of TVs with just a UHF aerial input were over 20 years old at the time of the analogue switch off, but there were probably over a million still in use by older people or as secondary TVs in bedrooms.

Millions of TVs with SCART sockets were also scrapped either because consumers viewed the analogue switch off as a golden opportunity to replace CRT TVs with flat screen TVs, especially if they were 4:3 aspect ratio, or because satellite and cable viewers misunderstood the situation. A not very technically minded neighbour had a satellite receiver connected to an analogue TV via the SCART socket and the aerial socket was not connected to anything. She did not watch terrestrial broadcasts because all the TV channels were available on satellite but she worried that her TV would not work after the analogue switch off and would have to be replaced. My son was at pains to explain that the analogue switch off did not affect satellite viewers at all and a digital TV is only required if you want to watch terrestrial broadcasts.

A local member of FOE claims that about 1 in 10 scrapped analogue TVs have ended up in landfill despite the WEEE directive.

Originally posted by: amillar
there would have been riots if other EU countries had it and we didn't


I'm not sure where this idea comes from. The British public never asked for digital terrestrial TV so there was no real consumer demand in the first place. If viewers wanted digital TV or extra channels then they were usually happy to have satellite or cable. A conversation with electrical store staff revealed that over half of all digital TVs were bought as replacements for old, broken, or CRT TVs rather than to watch extra Freeview channels on.
 16 May 2013 12:27 AM
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kengreen

Posts: 400
Joined: 15 April 2013

I think it was the occasion of the Queen's coronation that I was sent to Scotland to test proposed sites for a temporary tv transmitter to serve those who lived on her doorstep. On my way back I had also to test along the west coast for a jumping-off place to send the same coverage to Ireland.

On my return I learned that it had all been a waste of time. Them on the top floor had realised that a temporary service could not be given because its withdrawal would leave many people with a short-lived pile of expensive junk. In those days most still listened to the rumblings as Lord Reith turned in Iin his Grave.

I think that the decision to closed down the analogue service was taken by Whitehall Accountants in a similar way that the lunatic sale of the purpose designed and built heart of TV could only have been at the urging of Accountants.

It is a long time indeed since I heard the incoming President of the (then) Brit. I.R.E. regretting the trend to abolish man - managers and put decision-making into the hands of Accountants.

Ken Green
..E
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