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Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 5

Memorandum from Mr Kevin Hutchens

  I wish to submit the following brief statement to the new inquiry on communications. This evidence relates to the session with the BBC:

  1.  I continue to be impressed by the quality of Public Service Broadcasting on the BBC. In news alone there is so much variety and choice. However I continue to wish to see more coverage of developing nations.

  2.  Comedy and Soaps continue to have an important role. Old favourites such as EastEnders continue to deserve acclaim, as does the backup for social issues raised via its website.

  3.  I continue to be concerned about the difficulty in accessing free to view digital channels. The Committee would do well to examine the reality of the present situation. At present there appears to be some confusion over the availability of affordable set top boxes. It also appears the priority of the industry is selling the more expensive and larger digital televisions.

  In the light of the importance of this I have submitted a separate memorandum by way of an email.

REFERENCE DIGITAL TELEVISION

  I am concerned about the difficulty in accessing free to view digital channels. The Committee would do well to examine the reality of the present situation.

  Recently I contacted the BBC inquiry line to ask if it was easily possible to get an affordable set top box, in order to access free to view channels. I was advised that boxes could be obtained (without taking up a subscription) for under £100. Further it was advised that such boxes were available to access ITV Digital.

  However, a random phone round of three major retailers confirmed a different story. One said they knew nothing of such a scheme. Another quoted me a price of £168. The third suggested that such a deal might be possible, but only if I had a satellite dish installed (by Sky).

  To say the least I feel this would confuse some members of the public. Also it may be the case that some unscrupulous dealers would use such a situation to do a hard sell on subscription TV.

  Clearly the Select Committee would do well to examine carefully with the BBC how free-to-view channels can quickly become a reality for all, without the intrusion of a satellite dish and without the necessity of taking out a subscription.

2 December 2001



 
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