UK DTV Switchover to Start in 2007, May End in 2012

United Kingdom telecom regulator Ofcom has described its plan for digital replacement licenses (DRLs). Ofcom is required to offer DRLs to the current Channel 3 analog licensees, Channel 5, and Public Teletext to replace their current analog licenses. If accepted, the replacement licenses must be issued before December 29, 2004. Channel 4, a statutory corporation, will also be issued a DRL before the end of the year. The Ofcom announcement of the DRLs noted that the Secretary of State said that the switchover to digital could start as early as 2007 and that 2012 "may be the most appropriate date for switchover completion."

All licensees would be required to roll-out digital terrestrial television to 1,154 transmission sites, co-operate with those organizations involved in the administration, organization or implementation of the digital switchover and comply with the December 31, 2012 "backstop date" to cease broadcasting their analog service. Holders of the Channel 3, Channel 4 and Channel 5 DRLs would be required to "achieve coverage that is at least substantially the same as existing analogue coverage."

More information is available in the Ofcom announcement of the DRLs and the BBC news story 2007 target for digital TV switch. The BBC article noted that the 2012 date was two years later than the originally anticipated 2010 date.

Last week Ofcom published its digital television update for the second quarter of 2004. The report shows that by June 30, 2004, DTV penetration had increased to 13,704,459, representing 55 percent of UK households, up from 53 percent in the previous quarter. Freeview digital terrestrial television update increased by 12.1 percent. The results are summarized in the Ofcom news release 55% of UK households receive digital television. The complete report is available in PDF format. Download dtvuq2_2004.pdf.