NEWS: Digital TV licences up for grabs as ITC creates global first

The UK has become the first country in the world to advertise digital terrestrial television licences, following the Independent Television Commission’s invitation last week for applications to operate four commercial digital multiplexes.

The UK has become the first country in the world to advertise digital

terrestrial television licences, following the Independent Television

Commission’s invitation last week for applications to operate four

commercial digital multiplexes.



The introduction of digital terrestrial TV into the UK is set out in the

1996 Broadcasting Act, which came into effect last week.



Current terrestrial broadcasters will each be given capacity on the

digital terrestrial multiplexes, but they can apply for additional

licences.



This statutory digital space for terrestrial broadcasters must be used

to simulcast their analogue service. However, the terrestrial

broadcasters are not required to simulcast the ads which are played out

on their analogue service and can insert different commercials.



The ITC has decided against advertising the digital terrestrial licences

in bundles, concluding instead that applicants should have the

flexibility to operate one or more multiplexes of their choice. This

does not preclude applicants tendering for more than one licence.



The closing date for applications for licences is 31 January 1997 and

there is no cash bid involved in the tendering process. Instead, the ITC

will award licences on the basis of coverage proposed, speed of roll-

out, applicants’ ability to establish and maintain the service and the

appeal of the proposed programming to a variety of tastes and interests.



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