Wednesday, 28 July 2010

MINISTER PRESSES MUTE BUTTON ON HIGH-VALUE LIVE EVENTS


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?”        
Editors notes:
·       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. 

www.saveoursounduk.com

BIS Statement On Funding

Please follow the link to the BIS press release announcing general principles for the compensation package – http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=414707&NewsAreaID=2 

"The funding will make a significant contribution to the costs of the PMSE community in upgrading equipment to suit their new operating frequency.
The support provided will not take into account the age of the equipment that requires upgrading, although the equipment will need to be in working order.  OFCOM will be providing further details on the package shortly."

The fact that the package will not take into account the age of the equipment is hopefully positive news because it moves away from residual value. However, there is as expected nothing on channels 31-37 and 61-68. We also need to understand what terms like "generous" and "significant" actually mean in monetary terms.

Give your views on this statement at www.saveoursounduk.com


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Save Our Sound UK - Write To Your MP

Representatives of Save Our Sound UK attended a meeting recently at HM Treasury. Once again the plight of the PMSE sector was laid before Government officials. During the meeting it was stated that Treasury and BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills) are trying to find a compensation scheme that is the right one. However, industry representatives are fearful that any scheme, when and if finalised, could eventually prove to be no more generous than the terms originally proposed by Ofcom – the reason for launching the Save Our Sound UK campaign in the first place.

On current evidence Government would still appear to be sticking to the line that only Channel 69 capable equipment will qualify and that compensation levels will be based on residual value of equipment. The effect of this will be to exclude owners of equipment that does not tune to Channel 69 but will still be rendered redundant as a result of PMSE’s eviction from Channels 31-37 and 61-68. Additionally, owners of Channel 69 equipment would end up receiving a small fraction of the true value of their equipment.

The previous Government’s position was to ensure that any compensation package should leave the PMSE sector ‘no better, no worse off’ as a result of the changes to spectrum access. The new coalition administration has yet to commit to this and Save Our Sound UK is extremely concerned that it may not.

Final decisions have yet to be made on the structure and scope of any compensation package but it is possible that things will be finalised by the end of July 2010, before Parliament rises for summer recess. Consequently, Save Our Sound UK urges supporters to contact their recently elected MPs as a matter of urgency to highlight the issues and ask them to pursue a satisfactory outcome for the PMSE sector.



WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

SAVE OUR SOUND UK urges all affected by the compensation issue, especially those who work in the industry but also those who enjoy live events, to write to or e-mail their local MP and ask them to support the campaign.

How to do it – step by step guide
  1. If you do not know who your local MP is, then simply type your postcode into this page on the UK Parliament websitehttp://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
  2. Use the template below to send to your MP, filling in the MP’s name at the top and including your name at the bottom.
  3. Once your letter is complete, either send it to your constituency MP by post or e-mail it across. E-mail addresses can also be found on the UK Parliament websitehttp://www.parliament.uk/mpslordsandoffices/mps_and_lords/alms.cfm
Download the letter template here.

If you have any further questions or require clarification, contact Alun Rees on 020 7828 1603 or alun@ranelagh.info