Monday, April 01, 2013

Call to tackle the continuing digital TV postcode lottery


I have again described Dundee’s digital TV output as a continuing postcode lottery and have written to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Maria Miller MP, calling for the government to review the multiplex arrangements on Freeview that mean that thousands of his West End constituents continue to receive far fewer TV channels from digital terrestrial TV than other Dundonians served by a different TV transmitter.

This is a long-standing anomaly caused by the previous government’s decision to make several of the Freeview multiplex channels available to only the so-called “main” transmitters and it means many people get a second-class service, despite paying the same TV licence fee as everyone else.     Never a month goes by when I don’t get an enquiry or complaint from a West End constituent.   It is an on-going complaint for many of my constituents as the majority of them – particularly in the southern part of the West End ward – can only get TV signals from the Tay Bridge relay transmitter that carries a reduced number of TV and radio channels.

It is really about time the government looked again at the issue.   It affects about a quarter of Freeview viewers across the UK, particularly in rural areas.   Here in Dundee, those who are served by the main Angus main transmitter get all Freeview TV and radio channels, but in the case of Tay Bridge transmitter, its 35,000 viewers do not get access to all channels on Freeview, including most residents of the West End and City Centre and much of Craigiebank and Broughty Ferry, as well as parts of north Fife.  

Additionally, many in the Charleston and Menzieshill areas using Freeview are similarly disadvantaged because they are served by the Dundee Menzieshill relay transmitter, again, without the full digital TV output.

The difference in TV and radio total channels is stark – 18 from Tay Bridge and Dundee Menzieshill transmitters;   78 from Angus transmitter.   

People quite rightly are continuing to complain about this.   They pay the same TV licence fee but they get a second-class service and it’s a postcode lottery depending on where you live in Dundee.   That is completely unfair.

I hope that Maria Miller will give consideration to requiring broadcasters whose output is delivered via Freeview to ensure their channels are available from all transmitters.