Elstein slams Government plans for digital switchover

David Elstein poured cold water over the Government’s plans for digital switchover by at Marketing Week’s TV 2004 yesterday (Tuesday).

The former Five chief executive said there was no guarantee that switchover would be a success even if the Government used a phased approach rather than waiting until 95 per cent of the population had digital TV. He said: “Once the reality of switch-off is apparent, public resistance will be considerable.”

Andy Duncan, BBC director of marketing, is expected to pick up on the issue today (Wednesday). He will say that the BBC-backed Freeview has enjoyed considerable growth and is set to be in four million homes this summer, but it only reaches 75 per cent of households.

Duncan will make it clear that to make BBC digital services universally available, a free-to-air satellite service should be set up and he will invite other broadcasters, including BSkyB, to help with that. “We believe everyone should have a genuine choice of platforms. As with analogue, they shouldn’t have to subscribe to pay services in order to get free-to-air services like those offered by the BBC and other public service broadcasters.”

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