Ofcom starts digital dividend handout with Channel M Television

Channel M Television, which provides the local television service for Greater Manchester, has been awarded a licence which will allow it to broadcast digitally over the airwaves.

The award is a small part of the UK’s digital dividend – the spectrum that will be freed-up as a result of digital television switchover. It covers 8MHz of what is known as interleaved spectrum in the Manchester area.

Interleaved spectrum act as buffers between television transmitters to stop them interfering with each other. They can be used for a range of low power uses while still preventing interference.

Ofcom awards spectrum licences that are technology- and service- neutral and tradable. This allows the user to decide how they should be used and means that there is flexibility for use to change in the future.

This licence will allow Channel M to provide new digital terrestrial television services targeted at the Manchester area.

Digital Switchover will see some of the UK’s best spectrum released for new uses as a digital dividend.

On Monday, Ofcom set out further plans for the cleared spectrum that will be released by digital switchover.

The interleaved spectrum also has many possible uses including: television services covering a city or local area; new digital television services covering most of the UK; services in support of programme-making and special events; and mobile television or mobile broadband.

The next award of interleaved spectrum will be for the Cardiff area later this month.

Later phases could include offering packages of interleaved spectrum in many different parts of the UK at the same time through a combined award. This would allow bidders to put together blocks of spectrum so that they could offer wireless services in one city in a network of cities or across a large part of the UK.

Depending on demand, Ofcom could offer smaller packages of interleaved spectrum, similar to those available in Manchester and Cardiff that would be suitable for local television in a variety of locations. These awards could take place roughly one year ahead of digital switchover in each region.