Digital row breaks out as agencies hit out at government

- Agencies have hit out at Government plans to set a deadline for switching off analogue TV services, saying the issue should not even be debated until half of homes can receive digital TV.

- Agencies have hit out at Government plans to set a deadline for switching off analogue TV services, saying the issue should not even be debated until half of homes can receive digital TV.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising made the call in its response to a recommendation from the cross party Culture Media and Sport Committee that there should be an announcement this year on an analogue switch-off date. The IPA labelled the move "premature".

The new digital TV channels have not even launched, digital programme plans are unclear and its impossible to gauge in advance consumer reaction to the new channels, the IPA says.

Agencies are concerned that it is not in their clients' interests to make any decision now and want to ensure that advertisers' ability to reach a mass audience is not adversely affected.

For this reason the government should wait until 50 per cent of homes can receive digital TV before making any decision and the switch-off should not take place until 90 per cent of homes can receive it, the IPA says.

At the same time, it welcomed the Committee's recommendation of a single regulatory authority with an overview of all TV broadcasters' commercial activities, including the BBC.

Jim Marshall, the chairman of the IPA's Future of Television working party, said that a single regulator would facilitate a thorough and co-ordinated review of the TV medium. "Then appropriate policies can be put in place to ensure that both public and commercial channels are working to complementary programme remits."

However, the IPA expressed concern about combining this authority with an all-encompassing Communications Regulation Commission. "We see a risk that broadcast issues will be subsumed within telecommunications," the IPA said.



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