Written evidence submitted by the Musicians'
1. The MU represents over 30,000 musicians working
in all genres of music. As well as negotiating on behalf of our
members with the major employers in the industry we also offer
services tailored for the self-employed by providing assistance
for full-time and part-time professional musicians of all ages.
We are responding to this consultation in order to protect the
interests of our members and will therefore focus on the question
that affects them most.
2. The proposal to clear channel 69 of PMSE has
led to a severe decline, and in some cases near-halt, in sales
of channel 69 equipment; those businesses that depend on these
sales are consequently under threat. This is because under current
proposals, anyone who buys channel 69 equipment subsequent to
the publication of the 800 MHz consultation document will not
be entitled to financial assistance. Therefore, those who would
otherwise buy new equipment are reluctant to invest. In addition,
suppliers of channel 69 equipment cannot offer alternative equipment
until replacement spectrum is both confirmed and made available
on a UK-wide basis.
3. Users who need to buy new channel 69 equipment
(ie that can be used and licensed UK-wide) have no other option
but to invest in equipment that is not future-proofed. Again,
this is because:
(a) viable alternative spectrum, and hence equipment,
are not available; and
(b) the date of publication of the 800 MHz consultation
is the proposed cut-off point for entitlement to financial assistance.
4. In order to address these problems, Ofcom
should accept that, in the absence of confirmation and availability
of replacement frequencies and equipment, users who need new equipment
have no option but to invest in equipment that operates in currently-available
frequencies. We would also ask that Ofcom strongly encourages
the Government to make provisions for those that have purchased
and will need to purchase equipment before replacement options
are confirmed and available.
5. We would also ask that it be confirmed, as
soon as possible, that Channel 38 will be awarded to PMSE/band
manager and that every effort is made to ensure that channel 38
is as widely available as possible for PMSE use, as soon as possible.
This will involve significant engagement with incumbent radioastronomy
users of channel 38.
6. As the replacement for channel 69 must at
least replicate its current benefits to PMSE, we agree with Ofcom
that none of the following would be acceptable:
(a) Interleaved spectrum (not UK-wide and no
(b) Channel 70 (more isolated than channel 69
and no additional bandwidth);
(c) FDD duplex split (no certainty that it will
either exist or be useable for PMSE);
(d) 1785-1805 MHz (isolation, lack of equipment
availability, not UK-wide); and
(e) 870-876 MHz and 915-921 MHz (isolation, interference
issues and high opportunity cost).
7. If the migration of PMSE from channel 69 and
the provision of replacement spectrum is considered in isolation
from the wider impact of the digital dividend on PMSE spectrum
access, then it would be reasonable to conclude that channel 38
is an adequate replacement. It will be available on a UK-wide
basis by 2012, has a low opportunity-cost (and hence licence fee
attached to it) and lies in closer proximity to post-DSO (digital
switchover) interleaved spectrum than channel 69 will.
8. However, the spectrum provided to PMSE/band
manager must take into account the wider impact of the digital
dividend on PMSE spectrum access. As BEIRG has demonstrated in
its responses to the cleared and geographic consultations, Ofcom's
currently available white space maps show that there will be insufficient
spectrum available in order to operate necessary quantities of
PMSE equipment for large-scale musical productions to be staged
at certain prime venues across the UK, including at theatres in
Edinburgh, Bradford, Southend, Woking, Swansea, Nottingham, Stoke,
Guildford and Tunbridge Wells . In addition, and as our models
derived from Ofcom's data show, equipment costs for touring theatre
will increase by a minimum of 100% post-DSO due to the increased
fragmentation of available spectrum.
9. Whilst Ofcom have agreed to update the white
space maps, they will not be available for some time due to the
clearance of channels 61-69. Until definitive white space maps
are publicly available, it is impossible to determine whether
the PMSE spectrum allocation is demonstrably interference-free
and sufficient in terms of quality, bandwidth and continuity to
meet the PMSE sector's needs without imposing undue financial
costs. Ofcom must accept that they must retain the ability to
address any shortfalls in PMSE spectrum should they arise. In
order to do so (and hence avoid the risk that the PMSE allocation
will not be sufficient), Ofcom must do one of the following:
(a) Award two additional cleared channels to
the band manager in addition to channel 38. In this regard, BEIRG
submitted a document to Ofcom in December 2008 which stated "We
believe that channel 38 along with cleared channels 39 and 40
would offer the best replacement for channel 69. Alternatively,
if channels 61 and 62 are cleared of DTT and DTT broadcasting
has to spill over into channels 39 and 40, then channel 38 and
the cleared channel 37, along with the interleaved spectrum in
channels 39 and 40, would offer the best replacement for channel
69." Ofcom should explore this option as a method of prioritising
PMSE, rather than PMSE being a consequence of other developments.
(b) If the 600 MHz auctions are to take place
before definitive white space maps are available, it would be
a good idea to hold back the two additional cleared channels from
sale until it is known for certain which interleaved frequencies
will be available for PMSE. The channels could be awarded to the
band manager if the interleaved allocation is insufficient, or
auctioned if not. This option would both mitigate the risk to
PMSE and ensure efficient spectrum allocation.
(c) Not release the lower cleared channels (ie
do not hold the 600 MHz auctions) until definitive white space
maps have been published and the PMSE sector has had sufficient
time to ascertain the implications. Further to this, Ofcom will
be able to address any shortfalls in spectrum availability or
continuity by awarding additional spectrum to the band manager.
10. We welcome Ofcom's commitment to ensure that
"existing authorised and planned authorised users of channels
61, 62 and 69 do not bear extra costs that must reasonably be
incurred to clear the spectrum". In line with this, finance
must be available when the costs to the PMSE sector arise in order
to facilitate an orderly and efficient migration. The best solution
would be an early Government commitment to set aside funds and
ensure that an effective distribution mechanism is established.