British MP Concerned About Impact of Wireless On Free TV There

U.S. broadcasters are not the only ones pushing the government to make sure it is not running roughshod over free over-the-air TV on its way to the 4G wireless future it has envisioned for the country.

Conservative Member of Parliament John Whittingdale, chair of the House of Commons Culture, Media & Sports Committee, has asked for an investigation into the impact of new mobile phone technology on the signals of millions of TV viewers still receiving over-the-air TV, according to the Daily Express. The committee oversees the BBC, one of the free TV entities that could  be affected by interference or blackouts from new mobile technology.

Whittingdale told the paper that viewers who had recently made the switch to digital would be “very cross” to find their signals had suddenly disappeared next year. “The television viewer has already been through one quite complicated and inconvenient exercise with analogue switchover and now we’re looking at several more years of disruption," he said, which echoes concerns raised by the National Association of Broadcasters about the FCC's reclamation of broadcast spectrum to be re-auctioned to help relieve the predicted spectrum crunch facing 4G in this country.

“There’s a case for a trial which might cause a small delay and I understand that might still happen," said Whittingdale. "I don’t think they actually know how many will be affected. Until you start doing it, you can’t really tell.

New 4G antennas are being deployed in June in the country, and Whittingdale wants there to be a test first so regulators can get a better handle on the interference risks.

While that might cause delays to mobile broadband, he said it was important to put TV viewers first, the paper wrote.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.