Millions will have to pay to get Freeview TV

New 4G mobile phone network will leave people facing £200 bills to  cut out interference

More than 2 million Freeview customers face bills of up to £212 – more than the cost of a year’s subscription to cable television – in order to pay for interference with signals caused by the 4G mobile network.

Freeview and the BBC last night told The Independent of their anger at the Government’s apparent determination to dump the costs of installing signal filter equipment on householders rather than the mobile phone companies which will enjoy huge financial benefit from the introduction of 4G next year.

Estimates suggest that between 2.3m and 3m households – within 2km of 4G transmitters - face interference with their television pictures, with some losing their signals entirely.  

“If you don’t have a filter you literally won’t be able to watch television. You will get very significant pixelation and the picture will break up and you won’t be able to carry on watching Freeview. They are stopping people watching Coronation Street,” said Ilse Howling, managing director of Freeview. “It will cause interference for a large number of Freeview homes and we are really concerned about that.  We think the Government has got this wrong and this is really unfair.”

The BBC, which supports Freeview, is also unhappy. John Tate, Director of Policy & Strategy at the BBC, said the introduction of 4G would highly lucrative and that the signal interference problem should be dealt with using the “polluter pays” principle. “We all wish 4G very well but this is a hugely profitable business for the companies, it’s a hugely cash-generative business for the Government and the viewer shouldn’t be the party that loses out,” he said.

Signal problems will be experienced all across the country, with an estimated 657,000 households affected in London, 202,000 in the Midlands, 188,000 in north-west England , 157,000 in Yorkshire and 162,000 in central Scotland, for example.

The Government has allocated £180m to tackle the issue but Freeview argues that this will allow for the provision of the filters but not the more expensive cost of hiring engineers to install them. People living in flats will be the hardest hit, facing installation costs of £212, more than the £166.95 price of a year’s subscription to Virgin Media, including set up.

Ironically, research suggests that Freeview customers are disproportionately likely to be disinterested in using 4G technology. Many Freeview customers are elderly and some have only recently joined the service following the disruption of the switch off of the analogue broadcasting signal.

“People bought into Freeview in good faith and some of them may have only just gone through digital switchover and find themselves having to pay more for a [4G] service that is going to benefit the whole country,” said Ms Howling. “We are asking Government to not just fund the cost of the filter but also fund the cost of the installation.”

After digital switchover is completed in October, an allocation of digital spectrum will be made available at auction for 4G. The new phone network is expected to be introduced next year, contributing £3 billion to the UK economy.

Ofcom is currently consulting on the issue but does not have powers to increase the £180m that the Government has allocated to the problem. It is proposed that £20m of the total will be put aside to help with filter installations for the most “vulnerable” people and that a company, MitCo, will be set up to oversee the entire process.

News of the added charges for Freeview customers is a blow to Lord Sugar who will next week unveil the YouView internet television platform. He hopes to persuade Freeview customers to part with more than £200 to upgrade to the new service which is expected to launch in the autumn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor

£12000 - £14400 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Account Manager

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are proud to be on...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project