Spectrum auction causes drama

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has weighed in as an unlikely commentator on the UK’s digital switchover between 2008 and 2012.

Ofcom’s proposal to release the UHF band, which occupies the frequencies 470 to 862MHz, has caused concern among the theatre and media industries. At present, one block of spectrum known as Channel 69 is reserved for by professional programme-making and wireless microphone use.

But after 2012, Ofcom intends to move to a more flexible, market-based approach to spectrum access by auctioning off the frequencies.

Lloyd Webber was quoted by London paper the Evening Standard s as saying that such a move would spell the end of musicals as smaller theatres would be unable to compete with mobile companies and service providers intent on buying up spectrum.

Lloyd Webber himself introduced wireless microphones in the UK in 1971 with the hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ofcom said that it intends to ensure that a number of UK-wide packages of spectrum are available for the professional programme-making and events sector until at least 2012 to ensure a smooth transition to a market-based approach.

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