Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey today indicated that the Government’s compensation package to those being evicted from the 800MHz spectrum will only encompass 6% of the frequencies being cleared. This puts the large-scale live events, from the West-End to major TV entertainment shows, on notice because it threatens the small businesses that supply them.
The package covers channel 69, but the Government has exploited technicalities to avoid paying out to those high-end users that tune to channels 31-37 and 61-68, which are also being cleared. It is these additional channels that are needed to produce large-scale events like the Olympics.
The excuse that the Government has given is that notice of eviction was given. But what seems to be continually ignored is the fact that no precise alternatives were provided or even now have been published.
How can you buy replacement equipment when you don’t know what frequencies it can operate on?
All this because the Government seems to want to line its pockets with mobile network operators’ cash from the radio spectrum auctions.
Whilst there is some encouragement that the Government has accepted Save Our Sound UK’s arguments about longevity and use-value of equipment, it is not known what Vaizey’s ‘significant contribution’ means. Details from Ofcom are expected on that matter.
Save Our Sound UK spokesman said,
“To call this package ‘generous’ is an abuse of the English language. The decision will devastate the small and medium-sized businesses that support the UK’s live events industry. Where are they going to find the extra money to continue to do their job? Without them, the large-scale events sector could collapse like a house of cards.”
“This shows that the Minister simply does not understand how the Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) sector works. An injustice has been done. But worse than that – it is an injustice that will have severe consequences.”
“The winners are the spectrum-greedy behemoth corporations and the Government. The losers are the little guys. So much for ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, and where is Business Secretary Vince Cable who supported SOS UK in the first place?”
· The Government has approved a move to clear radio channels 31-37 and 61-69 of all existing technologies that use them, including over 95% of the UK’s stocks of wireless microphones, in-ear monitor systems and talkback.
· This wireless equipment makes shows like the X Factor, Big Brother possible, along with stellar events like Live Aid and Glastonbury. In addition, they are vital to broadcasting and newsgathering and the West End wouldn’t function without them.
· The Minister’s decision will impact on schools, churches, theatres, broadcasters, film studios, concert promoters, conference and sports-event organisers, rental companies and sound recordists.