Ofcom consultation on support for PMSE equipment owners
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
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UK - As many PMSE businesses and equipment owners will already know, last year the Government and Ofcom confirmed the timetable for the clearance of the 700 MHz band to make way for mobile networks. Being evicted from the band presents two immediate concerns for those operating in the PMSE sector.
First, they will lose varying degrees of their equipment’s tuning range, creating a need to replace redundant equipment. Secondly, as a result of this, there will be significant incremental costs imposed on owners. We know from the 800 MHz clearance, the financial reality of researching, purchasing, transporting, fitting, testing and utilising completely new equipment is a harsh one for businesses in the sector.
Ofcom has released a consultation document laying out proposed parameters for a support scheme for affected equipment owners. Their proposals state that eligible equipment must have been purchased before formal notice of clearance in October 2016; have more than 50% of its tuning range in the 700 MHz band; and be in working order. Ofcom’s funding proposals would currently result in eligible claimants receiving 47% of the retail value of appropriate replacement equipment, with the rate card to be drawn up in the coming months.
As it stands there will be no cover for the costs of accessories, administration, finance costs or logistics, and the 47% figure will apply regardless of the age or expected life of the equipment being surrendered. There is also no funding for equipment below 694 MHz made redundant by DTT channel changes. Ofcom’s proposed scheme can be found here.
Under Ofcom’s current proposals, PMSE users are likely to suffer financially. Businesses could be left with equipment that has lost nearly half the original tuning range and no compensation to help source replacements. Those that are eligible for funding will have to surrender their old equipment and fund the remaining 53% themselves, an unrealistic proposition for businesses that have minimal liquidity and varied resources.
The British Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG) have been working tirelessly to secure a funding scheme for the wider industry and will continue to work for a scheme that is fair and equitable. Consultation responses must be submitted by 13 July, and must contain evidence of the detrimental effect the proposals will have on the PMSE sector.
But this is not something one organisation can fight on its own; BEIRG needs the support of all those who will lose out as a result of the changes. We urge you, the businesses and individuals in the PMSE sector, to stand up and defend your interests.
Ofcom stresses that these are only proposals at this stage, so it’s vital that all affected parties speak up to affect change. There is still time for explanation, negotiation, and an improved result for all owners and operators of affected equipment. Through submitting evidence to Ofcom, or by contacting Ranelagh to contribute to its work, it will be possible to achieve a fair and reasonable solution for the sector. You can contact Ranelagh Political Communications at adam.nice@ranelaghuk.com or on 020 3642 2754.
(Jim Evans)

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