Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Above : View from hotel balcony
And a couple from Vegas :
Above : Obvious place to eat in Vegas, I suppose!
Above : Me outside the hotel in Vegas
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I don't know the exact criteria used by the ITC to choose relays but they would have principally considered population coverage, achieving a reasonable distribution across the UK and availability of frequencies. The list was capped at 80 transmitters, but could conceivably have been another number. It would have been easier and cheaper to engineer just the main transmitters but population coverage would have less. Conversely the number could have been greater than 80, but the population gains for each additional transmitter is progressively more difficult to achieve. Shortage of frequencies means that some of the main transmitters could actually serve more people if relays in other regions were not on-air.
The problem of further expansion was that it was ITV digital (previously ONdigital) that was the main driving force paying for engineering half of the six multiplexes and also developing receivers and marketing the platform. ITV digital's financial difficulties and eventual failure put a halt to further development of the terrestrial platform for quite some time. When their multiplexes were re-licensed in 2002, Digital Terrestrial Television was a shaky proposition: operators in other countries that had launched services were also failing.
Since 2002, things have of course improved immensely with the Freeview proposition. Since that time, the broadcasters have increased the powers of many of the transmitters to improve coverage, but no further digital transmitters have been built. Although this does leave some areas unserved, there are sizeable chunks of population in a similar situation across the UK. It just wouldn't be possible to serve all of those until analogue signals are switched off to free up frequencies for digital services to use. Although it's no consolation to many viewers in Dundee, it is intersting to note that of the four nations, Scotland actually has the highest digital television coverage as a percentage of its population: 82% compared with 73% in England, 58% in Northern Ireland and 56% in Wales.
I hope that helps
Thanks for this & I do appreciate the efforts you have made to answer my questions.
I suppose my fundamental question cannot be fully answered as it appears somewhat lost in the midst of time - ie why 80 transmitters (and not more) were chosen and why a relay transmitter with a population of over 35 000 was missed out.
My specific issue really concerns the fact that had the 80 been 100, having been given previously the population coverage for the "top 20 non-digital relays" it would have very significantly reduced the numbers failing to get digital by simply increasing the number of relays covered by that relatively small amount of transmitters.
I do accept that expanding digital to ALL relays in advance of the analogue switch-off was never a practical proposition but by arbitrarily stopping at 80 transmitters at this stage has left my constituents, served by one of the largest "non-digital relays", feeling, rightly, aggrieved.
I am, however, grateful for your response.
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Convener of Planning and Transport - Dundee City Council
Friday, July 13, 2007
During the development and appraisal of the RTS an outline Park & Ride strategy, building on existing experience and facilities at Perth and Stirling, and extending this to include Dundee, was subjected to initial "high level" assessment. This identified a positive case for developing regional Park & Ride and assumed the introduction of an additional 8 or 9 bus/coach-based sites, 4 of which would potentially be around Dundee.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Scotland Live, Radio Scotland, May 2 2007
I have been asked to look into your complaint about the eve of poll election feature on Scotland Live on 2 May. I’m sorry that you have been unhappy with the earlier response that you have received from the BBC, and I hope I can deal with your concerns here.
We have now had an opportunity to listen to the item in question and we have been in contact with the programme makers in Scotland. We have also reviewed the previous correspondence between you and the BBC.
You may be aware that it is the role of the ECU to investigate complaints to determine if there has been a serious breach of the standards set out in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. You can find these at www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines.
The item in question was a programme made up of series of reports about the campaigning activities of the various parties contesting the Dundee West constituency in the elections to the Scottish Parliament. You complained that the BBC failed to include the Liberal Democrats in the piece and that this was clear bias, whether intentional or not.
As you know, the intention was to carry pieces from each of the main parties which would feature activists on the ground in the final run-up to polling day. The BBC had told the parties that parliamentary election candidates would not be interviewed for the piece. The parties were not told, however, that council candidates would not be interviewed either. In the event, the Liberal Democrat interviewees, including yourself, were both council candidates and the BBC decided at a very late stage that these could not be used. You are quite right, and Phil Wells has already conceded, that this led to serious imbalance in the item. This was compounded by the fact that a Conservative interviewee who was included turned out to have been a council candidate as well, though this was not realised by anyone at the BBC until the item had been broadcast.
There is no dispute that to broadcast the item in this form was a serious mistake and a serious breach of the standards set out in the BBC guidelines on broadcasting during elections. These say:
We should make, and be able to defend, our editorial decisions on the basis that they are reasonable and carefully and impartially reached. To achieve this we must ensure that:
…news judgements at election time are made within a framework of democratic debate which ensures that due weight is given to hearing the views and examining and challenging the policies of all parties.
Phil Wells, the editor of Scotland Live, has already written to you to apologise. He said that “It is our responsibility to check and in this we failed”. Had this apology not been made prior to you complaint being looked into by the ECU, this part of your complaint would certainly have been upheld. However, in the light of Phil Wells’s admission, I have to say that I consider that it has now been resolved.
You have also complained, however, that you have been given “absolutely no reassurances as to how this sort of error will be avoided in future”. We put this to the programme team, and this is the reply we received:
The programme editor spoke to everyone involved in the piece - radio reporters, the producer and the senior broadcast journalist with responsibility for planning. He reiterated the absolute importance of checking the credentials of people appearing on the programme, both when setting people up ahead of time and when meeting them on the day. This is particularly true during election time. He also spoke to the whole programme team at its weekly team meeting to drive the message home. In the future, as editor of the programme, he will monitor any e-mail or interview request which goes to a political party. This should prevent something like this happening again.
This, it seems to me, is the proper response to the errors which were made and should be sufficient to ensure that this or similar errors are not repeated. In the circumstances, I feel that the actions already taken mean that this aspect of your complaint has also been resolved. It would, plainly, have been better to have notified you at the time of what had been done, and I’m sorry that this did not happen, but I’m afraid that a procedural lapse such as this does not fall within the remit of the ECU to address as a complaint.
As your complaints would have been upheld had an apology not already been made and the actions taken not satisfied me that it was resolved, a summary of my decision will be posted on the BBC Complaints website. I will notify you when this has happened. Meanwhile, I hope you will accept my further apologies on behalf of the BBC, and my thanks for giving us the opportunity to look into it.
Head of Editorial Complaints
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
I list the major changes below (but only insofar as they affect services that serve parts of the West End), provided by the Stagecoach East Scotland Network Manager.
Commencing 13th August 2007
New service 5: Dundee city centre – Tullideph Road
This new service will operate from Dundee city centre to Tullideph Road via Brook Street, Scott Street, Pentland Avenue and City Road serving areas not currently served. It will run every 30 minutes during the day on Monday to Saturday.
Service 13: Monifieth (Broomhill Drive) – Ninewells Hospital
This service will be extended from Ethiebeaton Park to Monifieth (Broomhill Drive) via Grange Road and Monifieth High Street. The current frequency of every 30 minutes will continue, although timings will be adjusted slightly to improve reliability. Broomhill Drive will benefit from an improved level of service.
Service 16: Dundee – Perth
On Mondays to Saturdays the 0613 journey from Dundee to Errol will run 5 minutes earlier, and the 1455 journey from Perth will run to Dundee bus station (arr.1610) every day.
Service 39: Montrose - Invergowrie
This service will be extended from Dundee city centre to Invergowrie via Perth Road and Dundee Medipark/Technology Park. The frequency of the service between Arbroath and Invergowrie will be increased to every 30 minutes, with the section between Montrose and Arbroath continuing to run hourly. During the evenings and all day Sunday, buses will operate as service 39A (see below).
New service 39A: Montrose - Invergowrie
This new service will run hourly during the evenings and all day Sunday from Montrose to Invergowrie via Arbroath, Carnoustie, Monifieth, Broughty Ferry, Dundee city centre, Blackness Road, Dickson Avenue, Ninewells Hospital and Dundee Medipark/Technology Park. This will provide a much improved level of service west of Dundee city centre at these times.
These services will be withdrawn and replaced by new services 39/39A and 73/73A.
Service 73/73A: Arbroath or Carnoustie – Ninewells Hospital
This service will be improved to run every 10 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday between Carnoustie and Ninewells Hospital via Monifieth, Broughty Ferry, Strathern Road, Dundee city centre, Blackness Road, and Dickson Avenue. Service 73 will run every 20 minutes with one journey per hour running to/from Arbroath via Muirdrum. The other 2 journeys per hour will provide a new service to the Queen Street and Newton Avenue area of Carnoustie. Service 73A serving the Westhaven Park and Ravensby Road areas will run every 20 minutes.
New Service 74: Barnhill/Broughty Ferry – Dundee University
This new service will run via the Barnhill loop previously served by the 69C, and then continue to the city centre and University. Buses will run every 30 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday.
Services 75/75A/76/76A: Carnoustie - Invergowrie
These services will be withdrawn and replaced by improved services 13, 39/39A, 73/73A, 74, and 77.
Monday, July 02, 2007
I apologise for the delay in replying to you.
It is certainly true that there are a number of relay transmitters serving relatively large numbers of households that do not yet broadcast digital services. The ITC (one of Ofcom's predecessor bodies) decided which transmitters would be used to broadcast digital television in the mid 1990s. The problem they faced was that there was no new portion of spectrum available for digital television, so digital services would have to be squeezed in any gaps between the frequencies used by analogue TV services. This meant that digital services couldn't be installed everywhere and even where they were, powers would have to be limited to avoid causing interference to analogue viewers.
The broad aims for the ITC were to maximise coverage whilst also providing equitable coverage in each programming region and nation. This was set against quite considerable engineering challenges and expense in adding transmitters and antennas to the existing transmitter sites while continuing to broadcast analogue TV. There were also a number of consequential works for the broadcasters as some analogue services had to change frequency, which often meant buying new equipment.
The ITC came up with a list of 80 transmitters for which licenses were advertised, including all 50 analogue transmitters that were classed as 'main' transmitters together with 30 of the larger relays. Although the list details just 80 transmitters (so that the applicants for the licence to broadcast digital services could gauge their financial commitments) it was always expected that once these transmitters were established that further transmitters would get digital services where frequencies could be found. Each additional transmitter would have knock-on effects elsewhere in the UK that would need dealing with. However, things went wrong when ITV digital got into financial difficulties in 2001. Their licences were eventiually re-awarded in 2002 which lead to the setting up of Freeview.
What has happened now is that digital switchover has caught up. The problem with adding digital services to transmitters like Tay Bridge now is that with analogue television still operating, its powers would have to be limited and temporary frequencies used, if indeed frequencies could be found. When switchover then occurs in Scotland in 2010, Tay Bridge's temporary digital services would need to be re-engineered, as will happen for the digital services at all 80 existing sites. It is worth noting that the broadcasters are already investing in upgrading broadcasting antennas and masts in the first few regions: Border and Westcountry.
I hope that's useful, please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss any points in more detail.
Senior Associate Technical Advisor - Broadcast Technical Policy - Ofcom - www.ofcom.org.uk
Thanks for your e-mail.
Can you advise the rationale the ITC used when drawing up its list of "30 of the larger relays" and why Tay Bridge, serving over 35 000 people was omitted?
Also you indicate "once these transmitters were established that further transmitters would get digital services where frequencies could be found. Each additional transmitter would have knock-on effects elsewhere in the UK that would need dealing with. However, things went wrong when ITV digital got into financial difficulties in 2001."
Can you advise why the demise of ITV digital resulted in the decision not to further extend digital services to relay transmitters prior to the analogue switch-off?
You will appreciate that the main point of my queries surround why so few relay transmitters were chosen, leaving large centres of population, like that of the Tay Bridge transmitter area unserved by digital until 2010.
Cllr Fraser Macpherson - Councillor for the West End
Convener of Planning and Transport - Dundee City Council
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Lastly, thanks to the Waste Management Department for swiftly responding to a number of complaints about dumped rubbish in the Perth Road area that I had raised following residents' complaints - e.g. near Springfield and near the former Valentine's site.