(1) what discussions he has had with Freeview about reasons to extend full Freeview services to (a) Monmouth constituency and (b) all other parts of the UK that are currently not provided with such services;
(2) what discussions the Government have had with representatives of Freeview about improving the number of channels on offer for people in rural areas;
(3) what plans the Government have to ensure that places where repeater transmitters are situated receive a full Freeview service.
Ofcom estimates that 98.5% of UK households have access to 17 channels including those from the public service broadcasters (PSBs) on the digital terrestrial TV (DTT, or Freeview) platform, and that approximately 90% of UK households are also able to receive additional commercial DTT channels. Around 1.5% of UK households cannot easily receive DTT services with less than 0.5% not able to receive DTT services at all. However, DTT, cable and satellite digital television services together cover practically 100% of UK households, so that in all but the most exceptional of cases, everyone should be able to get digital television by one means or another. As well as subscription services, digital satellite TV offers non-subscription reception options for a one-off equipment and installation cost, but with no on-going monthly payments.
We have had no discussions with Freeview or Digital UK, who manage the DTT platform, about extending services and there are no plans to require broadcasters to improve the DTT coverage levels agreed for digital television switchover in 2006.
Purely commercial DTT services are not subject to the ‘near-universal’ coverage requirements which apply to PSB DTT services, and while the operators of the commercial DTT services were given the opportunity to extend their networks at the time of digital switchover, the operators determined that it was not commercially viable for them to build-out their services to additional transmitter sites.