Ian Burrell: The fast-moving media environment can be a source of worry to some


Some Freeview customers have only just gone through the sometimes confusing process of throwing out the old analogue television sets that had served them for years and replacing them with the digital service.

They thought they were set up for the new era of television, a wide range of channels and all for free. And now they are being told they might lose the signal and have to pay up to £212 for an engineer to restore their picture.

It sometimes appears to escape the government’s notice but not everyone is fully-loaded with the latest smartphones and tablets, and the fast-moving media environment can be a source of worry to those who fear their cherished television and radio programmes may become less accessible.

Not all Freeview customers are reluctant users of new technology, but they are more likely than pay TV consumers to be elderly or poor and they are less likely to be early adopters of the 4G mobile network, which is going to play havoc with the signals of millions of British televisions from next year.

Freeview and the BBC are furious that the mobile companies and the Government, which are both poised to enjoy a cash bonanza from 4G (which itself is long overdue and much needed by British business), are not going to pay the full cost of making things right but are going to land millions of consumers with hefty bills.

As Lord Sugar prepares to reveal the look of the YouView internet television service this week, the news that the platform’s potential Freeview customer base is facing large bills, is the last thing he wants to hear as he tries to encourage them to upgrade to the new service.