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Ed Vaizey, the UK communications minister, has moved to quash fears that Freeview faces a threat of “switch off by stealth”, saying the government will not “take any chances” over the service being pushed off the airwaves it occupies.
Vaizey was responding to concerns raised by Caroline Thomson, the chair of industry body Digital UK, who has warned that Freeview faces a threat from mobile companies looking for more access to the airwaves to provide enhanced services to customers.
“Access to free-to-air television [on Freeview] is essential,” said Vaizey, speaking at the Digital TV Group Summit in London. “Caroline is doing her job raising industry concerns. I can assure the industry that we are not going to abandon it, we are going to support it.”
Vaizey pointed out that there was also serious industry concern about the potential for the launch of 4G services to cause TV interference. He said the government and Ofcom conducted robust research then, and there was a “negligible” impact from the 4G launch.
“The [Ofcom] analysis tends to be right,” he said. “I’m not taking any chances [with Freeview].”