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The Great RF Spectrum Debate

Whether the FCC has realized the consequences of the digital switchover (DSO) on local PMSE is a matter of question. Certainly in Britain it took many years of hard discussion

By Andy Wood August 20, 2008

It is interesting that in the US, the major governmental lobbying “on The Hill” has been instigated by wealthy pressure groups

On a serious note, the job of recognition for PMSE was tough, indeed Ofcom were so focused in their initial moves that no RF spectrum in the existing analog TV bands would be offered to PMSE. Nothing. All would be lost, at a cost of millions of pounds of equipment and no clarification on where the sector would sit in the new regime, if at all.

Several important things were done. Appropriate actions, where needed (i.e. governmental lobbying) and an increased awareness within the PMSE sector that the changes would directly effect their ability to work affectively, were required.

Thanks to sterling work, led by the British Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG), alongside UK industry groups AMPS, IBS, PLASA, PSA, SOLT and the MU, together with political lobbyists Ranelagh International, which was funded throughout the process by PLASA, the message got across.

It is interesting that in the US, the major governmental lobbying “on The Hill” has been instigated by wealthy pressure groups. In the UK, this lobbying came from PMSE industry itself, a situation possibly impractical given the size of wallet required in the US.

One result of this was action by Peter Luff MP, Member of Parliament for Mid-Worcestershire and chairman of the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee, who raised the issue in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons in March last year.

The problem was, very few were buying licenses.

Yes, the domestic radio license had been dropped, but you had to still buy a license to use some frequencies for PMSE use. Therefore, when the Office of Communication (Ofcom), a very Orwellian-termed organization and the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, approached the Joint Frequency Management Group (JFMG) who was given the task of selling such licenses, the figures were derisory in real terms.

And that, my friends, is how the fight started.

Whether the FCC and the US government have realized the consequences of the digital switchover (DSO) on local PMSE is a matter of question. Certainly, here in Britain it took many years of hard discussion, and even now, although the PMSE sector has received recognition, the picture is worse than it was pre-DSO.

And yes, you read that right: as sections of the UK are now switched off as far as analog TV delivery is concerned. Parts of Wales went ages ago, and Whitehaven in the north switched off between October 17 and November 14 last year. It’s a wave that will continue for several years to come on a regional basis. The good news is that here in Britain, the final DSO phase does not happen until 2012, when strangely we host the Olympics in London, the last region to switchover.

On a serious note, the job of recognition for PMSE was tough, indeed Ofcom were so focused in their initial moves that no RF spectrum in the existing analog TV bands would be offered to PMSE. Nothing. All would be lost, at a cost of millions of pounds of equipment and no clarification on where the sector would sit in the new regime, if at all.

Several important things were done. Appropriate actions, where needed (i.e. governmental lobbying) and an increased awareness within the PMSE sector that the changes would directly effect their ability to work affectively, were required.

Thanks to sterling work, led by the British Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG), alongside UK industry groups AMPS, IBS, PLASA, PSA, SOLT and the MU, together with political lobbyists Ranelagh International, which was funded throughout the process by PLASA, the message got across.

It is interesting that in the US, the major governmental lobbying “on The Hill” has been instigated by wealthy pressure groups. In the UK, this lobbying came from PMSE industry itself, a situation possibly impractical given the size of wallet required in the US.

One result of this was action by Peter Luff MP, Member of Parliament for Mid-Worcestershire and chairman of the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee, who raised the issue in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons in March last year.


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