Freeview petition handed over

A PETITION calling for everyone in the Borders to be provided with all Freeview television channels after digital switchover has been presented to Parliament by Borders MP Michael Moore.

The petition, which has the signatures of 2,500 local people, calls upon the Government to review urgently the impact of switchover on the Borders and to take immediate action to prevent local viewers from missing out on up to twenty television channels when the switch to digital television is made in the Borders in sixteen weeks' time.

Under the plans for switchover as they currently stand, every viewer who receives their signal from a relay transmitter, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of all viewers in the Borders, will only receive half the Freeview channels. This situation has arisen because commercial broadcasters are not obliged to carry their signals on relay transmitters.

Speaking in the House of Commons chamber as he presented his petition, Mr Moore said: "I am grateful for this opportunity to present this petition on an issue that I have raised with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and to which I hope I will get a positive reply in due course.

"In a few short months, the Borders area that I represent will be the first region to see the switchover to digital television, and a brave new world in which 40 television channels and countless radio channels will be available to people in the area.

"Unfortunately, however, the many people who are not served by the main transmitter in Selkirk will not receive all the channels; they will receive only what is known as "Freeview Lite", which provides far fewer channels and a much poorer service. As a result, 2,500 of my constituents have prepared a petition that I wish to now present to the House."

Mr Moore raised the issue with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Andy Burnham, when they met recently to discuss the progress towards switchover in the Borders. The Minister has asked his officials to look into what can be done to prevent this two-tier system from being put in place.