Analogue Television Switch-off

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:02 pm on 15th March 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 3:02 pm, 15th March 2005

That is probably the result of the fact that at the moment demand for integrated sets is relatively low, but it is certainly true. Therefore it is difficult to see any reason why someone should want to buy an integrated set.

There have been many references to the fact that we lead the world in the take-up of digital television. That is true. Of those who can principally claim credit for that—there are two, and they do not include the present Government—the first is Rupert Murdoch, who launched satellite and then digital satellite in this country, and the second is the previous Conservative Government. I recall serving on the Committee that considered the 1996 Broadcasting Bill, which ushered in digital terrestrial television. That television, it is fair to say, had some teething problems. Nevertheless, the previous Conservative Government were the ones who paved the way for it.

Ofcom has announced a timetable, which will start very shortly. In last week's Green Paper, the Government placed considerable responsibility on the BBC, yet all the questions that have been asked in this debate have not been properly addressed. Analogue switch-off is classified as a brave decision for a Minister to take. It is desirable that we get there eventually, but I have considerable doubts about the timetable that we are following and whether it is sensible to compel consumers to switch to digital terrestrial television when they might not want to do so. We need to consider the issues much more carefully, but the Government have not provided answers to the many questions that have been asked.