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Technology: Frequency fumble delays sale of Channel 5

作者:简翱瞳    发布时间:2019-03-03 02:05:04    

By BARRY FOX The British government’s plans to sell off frequencies for a new fifth TV channel are in turmoil. The frequencies on offer are used to connect video recorders and satellite receivers to TV sets, so Channel 5 transmissions will cause interference. The Independent Television Commission had previously reassured prospective bidders for the franchise that retuning people’s equipment in their homes would not be prohibitively expensive. Now it has changed tack and taken a tough line on protecting the public from the interference. The ITC now accepts that retuning is of ‘central importance’ and will be ‘critical’ to the viability of Channel 5. The commission has postponed the auction for bids from the end of January until the end of February and given prospective applicants until 12 February to comment on the ITC’s plans to safeguard the public. ‘Anyone who now applies will need a strong stomach and an even stronger bank account,’ says Nick Glover, technical secretary of the British Radio and Electronic Equipment Manufacturers Association (BREMA). In a technical note on interference from Channel 5, the ITC now admits that when the service starts transmitting ‘very large numbers of video cassette recorders, satellite receivers and other domestic equipment in most parts of the country in which Channel 5 is to be transmitted’ will suffer interference and need retuning or modifying. The ITC warns that the public risks ‘very considerable inconvenience’ and that the cost to the Channel 5 licensee of retuning will be ‘very considerable’. Ironically, the government has failed to follow recommendations made in two of its own reports six years ago. These said that Britain should make it compulsory for every TV set to have a socket which allows interference-free connection with video equipment. Such sockets have long been compulsory in France. Glover says: ‘The new note vindicates everything BREMA was trying to tell the Department of Trade and Industry and others. But no one would listen. The ITC is now having to pick the pieces.’ Channel 5 will transmit on the UHF TV channels 35 and 37. As these frequencies are not used for broadcasting, many video recorders, satellite receivers and video games computers use them to connect by radio frequency with a TV set. Once Channel 5 starts broadcasting, viewers will see either double pictures or herringbone patterns on screen when they watch any video system using similar frequencies for connection. The 1990 Broadcasting Act says that the Channel 5 licensee must pay for retuning, unless the viewer erects the aerial specifically to receive Channel 5. Until the new technical note was published, prospective bidders for the Channel 5 licence had been complaining to BREMA that they had not been properly warned of the likely costs of retuning video equipment. The Channel 5 company will have to provide enough engineers to solve all retuning problems within 21 days of a viewer’s request. The company will also have to broadcast test transmissions at advertised times before starting a full service so that viewers can check if they will suffer from interference. If the Channel 5 company encourages viewers to retune equipment themselves,

 

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