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


Memorandum submitted by Mr T Appleyard

  It has been noted that Government has many regulatory bodies, however, when you ask who should deal with what no[one] can tell you and the problem goes round in circles without resolution. Whether you have an individual regulator or not we find that where the law is concerned we have Parliament's answer but when the matter is scrutinised the judge gives another. Where does this leave Government and legislation? This will also affect the regulator. In fact they like everyone else cannot find out the meaning of the law they apply and can like everyone else only get or give an opinion. Will all the official bodies under one regulator be able to resolve the problem of the Government's law, its application, what it means and enforcing it when no-one has managed this since Parliament began.

  At the present time the common answer is yes, the law does apply but we do not know the answer and no you cannot enquire within the judicial system because this is not how a law works. It is your opinion against another and neither of you know the answer. With hindsight you may find out from a judge but we are told by all that this is not the case so all the questions go without answer and the law.

  Will the system work to the benefit of justice or a legacy of a system no-one has looked at? How can the regulator give legal answer unless he can tell us what the law means? This they cannot do. They cannot rely on a judge to tell them after the event as this is not the working of the law. You cannot have a law which says we told you so after but this is how the law works and everyone relies on it without question or reason. If there is a new law will this have any benefit when we cannot find out what it means and we only get opinions? We in the end have no law although Parliament tells us we have.

  Would the law be the application of the law or something later and a person's opinion? You cannot resolve the question of the law unless you look at the system.

  At the present time digital television is in fact analogue. The television is sold as digital with a set top box or one inside. This does not make the television digital. Trade description law would indicate that the digital description is a problem which the regulating bodies may wish to avoid.

  Digital television is only in theory as digital is pay to view where the signal is jumbled up to make you pay to view. If an analogue television displays digital as is used at present how can it be digital?

  Digital claims that narrow band width retains high definition pictures but the television companies had broad band licences for quality. You cannot have it both ways.

  Consumers are being told their analogue televisions are digital but no-one has explained how it can be where there are no digital televisions made and sold according to information form Philips Electronics as quoted over the media.

  No-one has said what will happen to television when the only company is Sky is reported to be subsidised by it parent company. Is this to be wide variety or a monopoly? Is it to be terrestrial or via a satellite?

  We are boldly told that the signal will go where no other goes, however, for the switching technology to work to scramble the signal to make you pay to view then you need a strong direct line of sight signal as UHF and microwaves are not affected by atmospheric conditions to move the signal around.

  According to reports from the Medway area, many who now get television although poor would not get scramble and pay to view called digital on a television set. This would happen up and down the country and who would want the enforced cost down a telephone line or cable? Cables systems overload and have problems.

  Analogue switch-off is again a policy statement and not a practical application. There is once again turn it off and find out later when only the same low number of viewers and not everyone fill the coffers of the company no-one has control over and which may shut down tomorrow. Will it follow the scenario?

  Communications and television is too wide a topic to be left it its "talking up" then the provision of a television not yet designed for which there are no standards set and none made.

  As the trading standards once said about matters like this, that because the signal said stereo sound, it does not mean the set is. The same can be said of the set top box or set top box inside with an analogue television called digital.

  Is the Government to lose its way with limiting the signal to those who turn it off if you do not pay to view?

  Are we being told the truth about non-existent digital where the box holds you to ransom? Is it more to do with the sale of goods from shops, advertising and the like? No-one has explained what digital is other than pay to view. Is this public broadcasting or private? What happens when the company goes bust and everyone pays a lot of money for a television with no signal apart from outer space from a dish?

  How are you going to explain that the digital television they have just bought works no differently to the analogue television they had at a fraction of the price?

  You can make a bill. Where will this stand in law? Will you be taking people to court because they cannot know the meaning of the law and can only get an opinion so that the judge says my opinion is and this replaces Government's law!

5 December 2001

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