Saturday, December 01, 2007

Petion for missing TV channels

Two weeks after the Digital Switchover was completed for viewers who get terrestial television services from the Bigrigg, Gosforth, and Eskdale transmitters, a petition complaining about the fact that we are not getting a full service has quickly secured 150 signatures.

The enormous disruption and cost of the switchover was sold to local residents on the basis that we would finally be able to see services for which we have been paying through the licence fee for years but have not been able to get. The fact that Copeland residents are still missing out on many of these services is causing a great deal of irritation.

Ronald Harrison, who lives in the Hensingham area of Whitehaven, was so incensed he started a petition calling for Copeland residents to be able to see all 40 Freeview channels. More than 150 people quickly called into The Whitehaven News office to sign it and others have taken copies to circulate around their villages or workplaces.

Copeland is not the only area to be short changed - it is estimated that about 10% per cent of the country will miss out on the complete Freeview package. But it is particularly galling when we have had to go through the disruption of being the first area to lose the analogue signal.

Some areas of the borough, partiularly in some of the rural areas of South and Central Copeland, have an even less complete service than Whitehaven. For example, parts of Eskdale cannot get Channel Five.

Whitehaven is missing out on 20 channels including:

UK Gold
Setanta Sports
UKTV Style
TopUp Anytime
Sky News
Sky Three
Sky Sports News
Five US
and Five Live.

John Askew, regional manager for Digital UK, told the Whitehaven News that said: “Commercial services, including shopping, quiz and music channels, which are not funded by the BBC licence fee, are available to those who receive their television signal from a main transmitter rather than local masts, such as those serving Copeland. The level of coverage achieved by these services is a commercial decision for the operators and is regulated by Ofcom.”

One of those who signed the petition is Betty Baldwin of Warrington who regularly stays at St Bees caravan site. She receives all 40 channels at Warrington but only half of those at St Bees.

She said: “We can’t get the full contents of Freeview from our caravan at St Bees. Why not put the other channels on the transmitter?”

She echoed the views of many others who contacted The Whitehaven News by saying that packaging on Freeview boxes gleefully display logos for all 40 channels – even though they’re not all available in this area.

To sign the petition, or obtain master sheets to take away, call into The Whitehaven News office at 148 Queen Street, Whitehaven. Please note the office is not open on Saturdays.

It has also become clear following switchover that Copeland residents are no longer able to receive the full Teletext service. Missing pages include the popular Holidays text pages.

A significant proportion of the information in this post came from the Whitehaven News.


Anonymous said...

You are getting ALL the channels you were told you would get - Freeview Lite.

If you (local politicians) had looked at the detail instead of jumping on the "Whitehaven is the first all digital town in the UK" bandwagon, then you could highlighted this shoddy service to the 'worlds media'.

Now the only people that look stupid are the gullible fools and those politicians that didn't look at the detail, and are starting to realise we have been sold short yet again.

This is Copeland Chris, the land of make believe, where Government, Industry and Councils do whatever they want irrespective of the rules and regulations, with the populus expected to sit there and take it. I know you're an incommer Chris but this is how it has always been and always will until people, and our elected representatives wake from their slumber.

PS. I hope you are being a bit more attentive when looking at the Hospital details. I certainly would like to have an accident out of normal office hours.

Chris Whiteside said...

Sorry Marra, but so far as my part in this is concerned you are the one who is not being attentive - although I agree with most of the rest of what you say.

Presumably you did not attend any of the public meetings about Digital Switchover over the past 18 months at which I expressed concern about the switchover.

Neither do you seem to have read any of the letters or comments in the Whitehaven News expressing similar concerns from me which have been published from late 2006 to last month.

Nor do you seem to have gone back over the archives at my previous posts on this blog, literally dozens of which make very clear that I had serious reservations about switchover.

If you had done any of those things you would know that I never "jumped on the bandwagon" of welcoming the choice of the Whitehaven TV area as the first to lose the analogue signal. I was always afraid it would be a mess, and it has been.

There are, however, plenty of local politicians from our MP downwards who did jump on that bandwagon, and your words are quite appropriate as a description of them.

You are also right to express concern about the future of hospitals in West Cumbria. I am very worried about whether the "Closer to Home" proposals are sustainable, and John Bannister is right to highlight the danger that we might have a much worse rundown of local services than the consultation document suggests. I have made some comments about this in much more detail on my hospitals campaign blog, see link at right.