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
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.