Ofcom pushing ahead with small-scale DAB and planning for terrestrial TV changes
As part of Ofcom's newly-published plans for the 2016/17 financial year, it has confirmed that it is going to continue its work on 'small scale DAB', a low-cost, simplified approach to enabling stations to broadcast across a small area on DAB.
Currently, Ofcom and multiplex operators are piloting the technology behind small scale DAB in a nine-month trial in 10 locations, which is due to expire in the early summer. Ofcom wants to expand small scale DAB services to more areas and has been working on identifying suitable frequencies and setting up the regulatory framework for smaller operators if small scale DAB was to enter regular, full-time service across the UK.
The current roll-out of local, mostly countywide DAB multiplexes will continue to be supported into the next financial year, according to the proposed Ofcom annual plan.
Ofcom also announced that it will be supporting the Government for a potential new statutory framework for radio regulation next year, following the conclusion of its own review of regulation in February.
Regarding TV, Ofcom says there will be a statement issued during the second half of 2016, announcing more information to terrestrial broadcasters and multiplex operators about changes to the UK's terrestrial TV service.
It's part of plans to clear the 700MHz TV frequency band around the end of the decade for mobile network usage, following agreement at the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva last month. Currently, Ofcom and regulators in neighbouring countries are working at co-coordinating terrestrial TV clearance. In Geneva, the remainder of the TV frequency band (470-694MHz) was confirmed as being saved for terrestrial TV, and frequency planners have been working out how and when Freeview services will need to move and how consumers will be informed of any changes to their service.
Also on Ofcom's agenda for 2016/17 is a review of whether the rules regarding live TV subtitles need to be changed and whether the watershed is still able to protect children from unsuitable content.