Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries whose remit includes the ongoing Digital Dividend Review, has indicated that the government’s compensation package to those being evicted from the 800MHz spectrum will only consider six per cent of the frequencies being cleared.
The package covers channel 69, but the government appears to be ruling out any payment to high-end users that use channels 31 to 37 and 61 to 68, which are also being cleared. Larger scale events are dependent upon the extra channels.
The government is claiming that notice of eviction was given and so affected companies have had ample opportunity to make other arrangements. This has angered Save Our Sound UK, the group that has gathered around lobbying government for compensation for the eviction from the frequencies. In a statement to the industry, it said: "What seems to be continually ignored is the fact that no precise alternatives were provided or even now have been published. How can you buy replacement equipment when you don’t know what frequencies it can operate on? All this because the government seems to want to line its pockets with mobile network operators’ cash from the radio spectrum auctions."
The statement went on to say that the government has accepted Save Our Sound’s arguments about the longevity and use-value of equipment, but it is not known what Vaizey’s ‘significant contribution’ means. Details from Ofcom are still awaited on that matter.
“To call this package ‘generous’ is an abuse of the English language," continued the SOS statement. "The decision will devastate the small and medium-sized businesses that support the UK’s live events industry. Where are they going to find the extra money to continue to do their job? Without them, the large-scale events sector could collapse like a house of cards.
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“This shows that the minister simply does not understand how the Programme Making and Special Events sector works. An injustice has been done. But, worse than that, it is an injustice that will have severe consequences.”
The Government has approved a move to clear radio channels 31 to 37 and 61 to 69 of all existing technologies that use them, including over 95 per cent of the UK’s stocks of wireless microphones, in-ear monitor and talkback systems.
For further details, call Alun Rees, the campaign co-ordinator for Save Our Sound UK on 020 7828 1603 or via email here.