Far from not being technically possible until the next century, a digital terrestrial service could be with us in two or three years. While, inevitably, there are problems to be overcome, the complications are less troublesome than one might imagine.
The benefits are straightforward. British viewers could be enjoying an extra eight- or 10-channel service by the end of the century, channels for the BBC and IBA, leading to greater viewer choice and further opportunities for broadcasting independents.
If terrestrial broadcasting is to have a place and not be swamped by satellite and cable services, digital transmission is vital. Wide-
screen channels and CD-quality stereo sound will be part of the technology benefits. If Channel 5 takes place to the exclusion of digital TV, we will have missed a superb opportunity - once again. After all, Channel 5 can be broadcast, along with BBC 3 and 4 together with a wide-screen Channel 4 and Channels 6, 7 and 8.
You also mention costs of converter boxes to be in the region of 'hundreds of pounds'. Not so. Specialist manufacturers (such as the Pace/NTL consortium) are confident that 'black-box' costs will be in the same range as currently charged for satellite receivers.
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