Wednesday, 5 March 2008



Audience Council Northern Ireland
The Audience Council for Northern Ireland welcomes the consultation on Freesat and notes the provisional approval of a Freesat service by the Trust.
Council particularly welcomes the benefits that Freesat will bring to many homes in the UK, and specifically Northern Ireland, which have difficulty in receiving a Freeview signal. It notes that the proportion of homes in Northern Ireland that cannot receive Freeview is higher than the UK average.
The demand for an alternative free-to-view digital service has been evidenced at Audience Council’s accountability events in different parts of Northern Ireland. Sections of the audience have expressed a sense of disadvantage in not receiving BBC digital services, paid for by the licence fee. There is also evidence of relatively low levels of understanding of the options for receiving BBC services by satellite without the need for a monthly subscription to the service provider.
Council notes the particular topography of Northern Ireland and welcomes the fact that many homes in coastal and rural locations would benefit from digital television on an affordable basis.
Council endorses the proposal that Freesat should be future proofed to take account of the consumer demand for, and expectation of, High Definition TV (HDTV).
Council therefore believes that the proposed Freesat service is in the interests of licence fee payers in Northern Ireland.

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