UK battle over wireless spectrum continues
By Kevin Hilton
Producers and broadcasters of sport and other live events have made their
presence felt in the consultation process for the re-allocation of radio
spectrum that will follow the switch-over from analogue television in the
UK. As a result of concerted lobbying the regulator, Ofcom, is to publish a
new discussion document, possibly by the middle of June.
There were fears that mobile phone companies would be able to buy up prime
frequencies, possibly compromising future plans for HDTV. Concerns have also
been voiced over the position of the programme makers and special events
(PMSE) sector, which covers the use of wireless microphones, in-ear
monitoring and talkback for TV production, live music and theatre.
Live TV in general is now reliant on wireless equipment, which now includes
cameras as well as mics, but the sports sector in particular has a vested
interested in what happens with the allocation of frequencies in the future.
As a result broadcasters, production companies and manufacturers have
lobbied both Ofcom and members of Parliament to stake a claim to frequencies
that will become available as part of the Digital Dividend Review.
Chief amongst these is the PMSE Users Group, which includes the British
Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG), the Professional Lighting and
Sound Association (PLASA) and the Institute of Broadcast Sound. An Ofcom
spokesman said a large number of proposals had been received from programme
makers and general wireless microphone users. These are being considered and
will be incorporated into the new document for further discussion.
The lobbyists employed by the PMSE sector have succeeded in raising the
profile of their clients and guaranteeing a voice in the discussions. But
this has cost a considerable amount of money, the bulk of which has been
shouldered by PLASA. In an effort to ensure the campaign continues the UK
subsidiaries of microphone manufacturers Shure and Sennheiser have pledged
6000 each to a fund that has a target of 60,000 for future activities.
Alan March of Shure UK, who also represents BEIRG, and John Steven, director
of marketing at Sennheiser UK, are hoping that other manufacturers will
follow the lead and help keep the campaign running until at least the end of
the year. “This affects the whole industry so everyone should contribute,”