Campaign to end second class TV services for thousands of Dundonians

The Courier, Evening Telegraph and Wave 102 recently highlighted my criticism of what I consider the ‘laissez faire and poor response’ I received from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) following my raising with the department the continuing short-changing of thousands of Dundee TV viewers who have a second rate level of TV services since the digital TV switch over in Tayside in 2010.
I have long been critical of government handling of the conversion to digital which has meant that all people whose TV reception comes from a relay transmitter rather than a main regional transmitter cannot receive all Freeview TV channels and programmes but get a “Freeview Lite” service with a severely limited selection of channels. 
In the case of the Tay Bridge transmitter, its 35 000 viewers do not get access to all Freeview stations, including most residents of the West End and City Centre, together with many in other parts of southern Dundee, including much of Craigiebank and Broughty Ferry.   Additionally, many in the Charleston and Menzieshill areas of Dundee do not get all Freeview services because they are served by a relay transmitter at Menzieshill.   It also affects viewers in parts of north Fife.
Information on the anomaly can be evidenced at the Digital UK website at – showing that people who get their TV signal from the main Angus transmitter get 108 channels available + 15 HD channels;   those served by the relay Tay Bridge transmitter get only 20 channels available + 6 HD channels.
It should be remembered that of those liable to meet a TV licence, everyone pays the same fee but TV viewers face two classes of service depending where they live and what transmitter serves their area and I view that as completely unfair.
The sell-off of the no longer used analogue bandwidth after the digital switch-over had the potential to raise billions for government and many feel the limited Freeview services for all served by relay transmitters has simply maximised the government’s financial windfall from the sale of the bandwidth.
I have to say I am deeply unimpressed by the department’s ‘do nothing’ response which completely fails to address the issue.    
As many constituents have contacted me about the DCMS response, I thought it would be useful if I reproduce the response from the department in full :
“Thank you for your email of 26 May, and further email of 22 June, to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), about Freeview channels. I am replying as a member of the DCMS Ministerial Support Team.
It is unfortunately the case that some Freeview viewers receive fewer channels than viewers in other areas. This is because Freeview (terrestrial TV) services in the UK are broadcast from a network of 80 primary transmitter masts. These masts are generally tall structures which operate at high power levels so as to provide coverage to as many viewers as possible and 90 per cent of UK viewers are in areas covered by signals from a primary mast. However, these signals are not available in all areas, often due to factors such as distance from the transmitter or to the nature of the local terrain.In order to extend terrestrial TV coverage to such areas, between the 1970s and the 1990s, broadcasters progressively built an extensive network of smaller analogue relay transmitters which provided fill-in signal coverage where possible which increased the total availability of terrestrial signals to around 98.5 per cent of the UK population. There are now around 1,100 of these relay transmitters in the UK.Relay transmitters do not broadcast as many channels as the primary transmitters. This is because digital television, unlike analogue television, is transmitted in groups of channels known as multiplexes of which there are currently six. Three of these multiplexes are known as the ‘public service broadcaster’ multiplexes and carry the digital equivalents of the old analogue channels (BBC 1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5), and around 11 other standard definition channels. The public service broadcaster multiplexes also include four high definition channels which can be received by viewers with Freeview HD compatible equipment.

At the time of digital switchover, in keeping with the Government’s requirement that the former analogue channels should be as widely available in digital form as they were in analogue, Ofcom required broadcasters to upgrade all their relays as well as the primary transmitters to carry the public service multiplexes. This ensures that these core services continue to be available to at least 98.5 per cent of the UK population.

The other three multiplexes are known as the commercial multiplexes, and are operated by the transmission company Arqiva and SDN Ltd (a subsidiary of ITV plc). The commercial multiplexes have been broadcast from the UK’s 80 primary transmitters for some years. However, because the commercial multiplexes do not carry any of the old analogue channels, the decision about whether to upgrade relays as well as the primary transmitters was a commercial one for the multiplex operators. Ofcom cannot require the operators to upgrade further transmitters to carry the commercial multiplexes and while the commercial operators were given the opportunity to add further transmitters to their networks at the time of switchover, they have chosen not to do so.

It is also worth mentioning that there are insufficient ‘spare’ transmission frequencies available to allow all relays to be upgraded to carry the commercial multiplexes, although the main constraint is that of poor commercial viability.

In practice this means that viewers who use a relay transmitter are able to receive up to 20 Freeview TV channels, including all of the channels they were able to receive before switchover and all of the BBC’s licence-fee funded terrestrial TV services, as well as a selection of HD channels which can be received on Freeview HD equipment. Those viewing from primary transmitters are able to receive more than 40 TV channels.

As the coverage and range of available Freeview channels varies by area, viewers were advised to contact Digital UK before digital switchover took place for information on channel availability at specific locations from the time of switchover. Digital UK can also provide information on alternative reception platforms for viewers who wish to receive a wider range of channels. Alternative reception options include the non-subscription satellite services operated by Freesat ( and freesat from Sky ( Digital UK can be contacted on 08456 50 50 50, or via”

In my view, the government should be using its influence to compel the TV operators to make their output available on an equal basis for all TV viewers and its inaction on the issue is deeply regrettable.   I will continue to campaign for better coverage of all Freeview channels.

New Sky TV Family Documentary Series

I was recently contacted by a TV production company called Little Gem who are currently working on a brand new documentary series for Sky that will tell the story of six families over 5 years of their life.
They are looking for families who’d like to be a part of this project and hope to capture their dreams, ambitions and the journeys that they go on but also the changes that will happen to the world and surroundings that we live in.
They want to embrace the uplifting, challenging and universal experiences of family life that we can all relate to, from young people not flying the nest to weddings on the horizon.
They indicate :


“Perhaps there are some families doing amazing things within your local area e.g. in local business, community work, events or sporting families?
With this in mind, I wondered whether you might be able to help me share this information, to let people know of the chance to be a part of this ground-breaking documentary series.
This is a fantastic opportunity for families across the UK to have a unique once in a lifetime film about their family – a home movie that they can pass on to generations to come – made by some of Britain’s best documentary filmmakers.”


More details below :

Local TV for Dundee – latest news

Further to my last update on moves towards local television for Dundee, many thanks to TayScreen for this latest news :
STV is the only bidder for the Dundee, Aberdeen and Ayrshire licences, this report in Broadcast.
STV is saying that local TV will reflect Dundee’s focus on creative industries.  As mentioned, they are working in collaboration with Abertay and D&A College.
These stations may be on air by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
TV has revealed more about its plan to build a local TV empire after bidding for three more licences in Scotland.
The commercial broadcaster is aiming to win licences in Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee.
STV director of channels Bobby Hain said it will capture the unique characteristics of each town in the local stations’ output.
“The channels will characterise the different areas,” he said. “There is the oil and energy sector in Aberdeen, the vibrancy of Dundee’s creative centre and agriculture, tourism and sport in Ayrshire. We’ll reflect these characteristics.”
If it wins the licences, STV will boast five local TV stations, having already secured channels in Glasgow and Edinburgh in Ofcom’s first round of licencing.
The Scottish broadcaster submitted bids for Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee after conducting research that revealed that more than 94% of respondents in the three towns wanted to receive more news programming from their area.
Each channel will be populated by “tailor-made content from the area” supplemented by “common current affairs content”, such as activity from the Scottish parliament in Holyrood.
STV Glasgow launched in June and airs 35 hours of local programming a week, including seven hours of repeats and 12 hours of current affairs. Hain said the proposals for the new licences are in line with these quotas. “We’re playing to our strengths. We have a very strong connection with our audience across channel three, and people know the STV brand,” said Hain.

Local TV for Dundee?

I have long campaigned for local TV for Dundee and, now that, for example, STV Glasgow is up and running and STV Edinburgh scheduled to launch on 5 January 2015, I am pleased to note that the local TV licence for Dundee is now being advertised.
Ofcom advises that “The closing date for applications for the Scottish areas of Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Forth Valley and Inverness, and the English areas of Carlisle and Stoke on Trent, is 23 October 2014.”
I am hoping there will be real interest in the local TV licence for Dundee.

Call to tackle the continuing digital TV postcode lottery

I have again described Dundee’s digital TV output as a continuing postcode lottery and have written to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Maria Miller MP, calling for the government to review the multiplex arrangements on Freeview that mean that thousands of his West End constituents continue to receive far fewer TV channels from digital terrestrial TV than other Dundonians served by a different TV transmitter.
This is a long-standing anomaly caused by the previous government’s decision to make several of the Freeview multiplex channels available to only the so-called “main” transmitters and it means many people get a second-class service, despite paying the same TV licence fee as everyone else.     Never a month goes by when I don’t get an enquiry or complaint from a West End constituent.   It is an on-going complaint for many of my constituents as the majority of them – particularly in the southern part of the West End ward – can only get TV signals from the Tay Bridge relay transmitter that carries a reduced number of TV and radio channels.
It is really about time the government looked again at the issue.   It affects about a quarter of Freeview viewers across the UK, particularly in rural areas.   Here in Dundee, those who are served by the main Angus main transmitter get all Freeview TV and radio channels, but in the case of Tay Bridge transmitter, its 35,000 viewers do not get access to all channels on Freeview, including most residents of the West End and City Centre and much of Craigiebank and Broughty Ferry, as well as parts of north Fife.  
Additionally, many in the Charleston and Menzieshill areas using Freeview are similarly disadvantaged because they are served by the Dundee Menzieshill relay transmitter, again, without the full digital TV output.
The difference in TV and radio total channels is stark – 18 from Tay Bridge and Dundee Menzieshill transmitters;   78 from Angus transmitter.   
People quite rightly are continuing to complain about this.   They pay the same TV licence fee but they get a second-class service and it’s a postcode lottery depending on where you live in Dundee.   That is completely unfair.
I hope that Maria Miller will give consideration to requiring broadcasters whose output is delivered via Freeview to ensure their channels are available from all transmitters.   

TayScreen is 10!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a very enjoyable event at Dundee Contemporary Arts as part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations of TayScreen that has done so much good work to promote Fife and Tayside for media development and film and TV production, post-production and animation.   

My involvement with TayScreen stems from our joint interest in promoting local television for Dundee, wider Tayside and North Fife, a project now with great potential.

Keith Partridge (right), a Fife-based adventure cameraman, gave a superb talk with dramatic film footage of some of his work.   

In his seminar session, Keith talked about adventure camera work and what it is like to undertake production in remote and dangerous places.  His presentation was hugely impressive and you can find out more about Keith’s work at

Local TV for Dundee? An update …

I have taken a close interest in the possibility of local television for Dundee, Tayside and North Fife and it was therefore good to see the positive news for Dundee following the recent announcement of areas to be licensed for local TV services.  

News on national TV and in the national press on the day of the announcement concentrated on only Edinburgh and Glasgow.  There was a general failure to report that there are, in fact, two lists of locations and the second of these lists includes the location identified as Dundee.  This is served by the Angus transmitter which also serves, Angus, north Fife and southern Perth and Kinross.
So, from a position some years ago where Scotland was not ‘on the radar’ for local TV, extensive lobbying, including that by the Fife TayConsortium, has led to the current proposals for local TV services, not just in Edinburgh and Glasgow but also in four further areas including Dundee/Fife/Tayside.  Anyone wishing to operate a licence for locations on the second must do so with a local operator.  This means potential local TV services for the region as whole, particularly, as proposed by the Fife Tay Consortium, through a combined broadcast and internet services. 

The Fife Tay Local TV Consortium is a collaboration between regional organisations in Fife and Tayside including Radio Tay, Dundee College, the University of Dundee and  It is chaired by leading lawyer, Professor Stewart Brymer and the business plan is being developed by Martin Cherry of Bannerman Technology.

It is coordinated by FifeScreen and TayScreen the screen office for the councils of Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth and Kinross.  There is already some pilot work that can be seen at FifeTay.Tv  – and further pilot development is planned for early 2012.
The current Ofcom consultation can be seen at the following link and the deadline is 19th March 2012.  It is an opportunity to provide input on the areas currently selected and the proposed process.   You can read more at
I am writing to Ofcom in support of local TV services for Dundee in particular, and the Fife Tayside area in general.   Given the current stage of the local TV licensing consultation, there is a major opportunity to influence the process going forward and it is essential to build on what has been achieved so far.  I would encourage all with an interest to write to Ofcom highlighting their support for local TV for Dundee.

Digital switchover confusion


Oh no it doesn’t – it happened last August!

I recently spoke with a resident who lives just south of Perth Road in the Sinderins area.    She was surprised to have received a mailing in the past few days from Digital UK about TV digital switchover when, like all other residents in the area, she had done this last August.

The mailing was aimed at occupiers of flats and it talks about switchover happening from May of this year.   I queried this with Digital UK and am advised by their Assistant National Manager :

“The simple answer is that constituent will have received the mailing as she has a chance of receiving a signal from Craigkelly. Where someone is in an area where there is a chance of receiving signals from different transmitter groups, we include them in mailings for all the relevant transmitters they could be getting their signals from.

We try and target the information we issue as specifically as we can. But, as you can imagine there are some areas where crossovers exist and we have to cover all bases. As you know we do not know which properties have and have not made the switch, so we need to include all possible properties in case they are included in that particular transmitter group.

We appreciate that this will cause confusion for some who made the switch in August. To deal with this, we have a three-point ‘What to do’ list in the leaflet and the first point is to speak to your landlord or property manager to see if anything needs to be done. Any good landlord/property manager should know the answer to this straight away.”

The Craigkelly transmitter covers part of the STV Central area (Edinburgh/Lothians/South Fife) and although quite a few residents in southern parts of the West End may get TV signals from it, it is very much a “secondary” transmitter for the area as its target audience is largely south of Glenrothes/Central Fife.   This resident’s primary transmitter is Tay Bridge in the STV North area and it was part of the STV North digital switchover that happened last August.

Although this resident is not elderly, as she points out many of her neighbours are elderly and she’s concerned that this mailing may cause them some confusion.    I’ve pointed out to Digital UK that I doubt there’s more than a small handful of people in Dundee who have not already made the digital switch – the vast majority of residents will have transferred to digital TV either before or at the STV North switchover last summer.

The message is simple – if you get a mailing about digital switchover and you have already switched to digital TV, ignore the mailing – but if you need any advice, contact Digital UK on 08456 50 50 50.

Final stage of digital switchover tomorrow

Further to my update earlier this month, the final stage of the digital switchover in Dundee and across Tayside and north Fife takes place tomorrow – when the final analogue channels get switched-off permanently.

Freeview viewers should rescan channels again tomorrow. Full details are available on the Digital UK website. This does not affect cable and Sky viewers.

As I have previously indicated, I am particularly anxious that elderly residents are given the fullest assistance, and if I can be of any help to any West End resident, do please call me on Dundee 459378 or e-mail

Start of digital TV switchover tomorrow

Tomorrow sees the start of Dundee and Tayside’s digital switchover, with relay transmitters like Tay Bridge (that serves much of the West End as well as the City Centre, Craigiebank and much of Broughty Ferry and North East Fife) starting to transmit Freeview for the first time.
Additionally, analogue BBC2 will be switched off and existing Freeview viewers (who get signals from the main transmitter at Tealing – called “Angus) should do a complete re-scan as there are alterations to Freeview transmissions at switchover.
In a fortnight – 18th August – the last analogue signals are removed and Freeview viewers should undertake a second channels re-scan. Sky, Freesat and Virgin cable viewers are unaffected throughout.
I have spoken with very many constituents in recent months about digital switchover issues – I am particularly anxious that elderly residents are given the fullest assistance, and if I can be of any help to any West End resident, do please call me on Dundee 459378 or e-mail

Digital TV – how many channels will you get?

Yesterday’s “Courier” highlighted the intention on the part of the Arqiva, the owners and operators of television transmitters, to re-site the Campberdown transmitter in the adjacent Lochee Ward, as it currently sits on one of the Menzieshill multi-storeys being demolished.

The article highlights that the relocated transmitter will carry a much-reduced number of digital TV channels compared to the main Angus transmitter at Tealing.    This is in common with all relay transmitter – only the main transmitters will carry all Freeview channels.

In the past, I have highlighted the drawbacks of the reduced “Freeview Lite” service planned for the Tay Bridge relay transmitter (that serves much of the West End) after the impending digital switchover – as it gives residents only around 22 of the approximate 58 TV and radio channels that others served by main transmitters (like the Angus transmitter that serves most of the north of the City) get. I have raised the issue with Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator. See :

Over the weekend, a Perth Road resident has e-mailed me as follows :

“Hi Fraser. Can you please tell me why, because I am served by the stv north tay bridge transmitter I will only get 18 channels come the switchover but anyone that is served by stv north angus transmitter will get 60 channels?

“I think this is unfair as we all pay the same licence fee, so we should all get the same amount of channels. They have had years to upgrade the tay bridge transmitter and I dont feel that this is right.”

I totally agree with his points and there’s need for Ofcom to revisit this matter.

Further digital TV meetings with local residents

Last June, I chaired meetings at various sheltered housing lounges across the West End at which Digital UK updated residents about the digital switchover.

With the switchover now imminent – in August – I held two more today at two lounges we were unable to visit last time – Sinderins Court in Hawkhill and the Lime Street sheltered lounge in Logie. On this occasion, I was accompanied by Colin Scott, Regional Projector Co-ordinator for the BBC switchover help scheme.

Colin gave excellent presentations and answered residents’ questions. If any West End resident has any queries about the switchover, please call me on 459378 or e-mail and I’ll ensure the appropriate person from either Digital UK or the help scheme resolves any query or problem.

The picture below is of Colin speaking at Sinderins Court earlier today.

Digital Switchover latest!

Yesterday at Tayside House, I had a useful meeting with John MacNeil, Assistant National Manager, STV North with Digital UK and Luke McCullough, National Manager for Scotland for the BBC Switchover Help Scheme, to get an update on how the switchover to digital TV is going – with just a couple of months to switchover in Dundee.

And the answer is that it is going well. Most people are well aware of the digital switchover and are prepared for it.    Further information can be found at :

Digital UK :

BBC Help Scheme :

Digital Outreach :

Last year, along with Alan Cowie of Digital UK, I held digital switchover surgeries at sheltered housing lounges across the West End – these were extremely well attended and I am holding two further surgeries at Sinderins Court and the Lime Street sheltered lounge next month – this time with Colin Scott from the Help Scheme – details to follow!

Here’s me with John & Luke at Tayside House yesterday.

Recent TV reception issues

I have had discussions with Digital UK and Arqiva Terrestrial Broadcast, who own and manage the UK’s TV transmitters about the recent TV reception problems, particularly BBC1 on analogue from the Tay Bridge relay transmitter, that serves much of the West End.

I have had helpful feedback from Arqiva’s marketing manager, who confirms that the recent BBC1 reception issues are resolved. He further indicates :

“I have spoken with Digital UK and they have sent me the link below which takes you to a document on the Ofcom website. In section 7 the document lays out the terms for notifying viewers:”

TV reception problems

Reports in the local press today and yesterday (go to to read last night’s Evening Telegraph) about TV reception and in particular BBC1 analogue reception in those parts of the city served by the Tay Bridge transmitter (including most of the southern part of the West End) has resulted in a number of complaints from constituents.

Given the quote by the BBC in last night’s Tele :

“A spokeswoman for the BBC in Scotland said there was not a transmitter problem, but she was unable to shed any more light on the cause of the interference”

it was interesting to hear from a constituent who lives just south of Perth Road and who, having phoned the BBC was told there were engineering works on the transmitter taking place!

I have asked Digital UK if the transmitter owners (Arqiva) has further planned engineering works linked to the digital switchover. It is important that Arqiva properly advises of engineering works before these take place, in the run-up to the digital switchover next summer.

Latest on the Digital TV Switchover

Here’s part of the latest update from Digital UK about the awareness campaign for the ‘digital switchover’ taking place in our area (the STV North region) next summer.   It is reproduced below the Digital UK logo (below).
Along with a number of my councillor colleagues in Dundee, I attended a briefing from Digital UK last week at the City Chambers to update councillors on the latest developments.

I’m pleased to say that Digital UK and representatives from the help scheme (financed by the BBC and aimed at helping elderly people and people with disabilities get assistance to be able to continue getting their TV programmes after the swtchover) will attend the Community Fayre taking place on Saturday 21st November – at the launch of West End Christmas Week.


The Digital UK team is embarking on a series of activities for council wards within the STV North area. Holding at least one event in every ward, Digital UK will stage a mix of drop-ins and public meetings to engage directly with the communities. The team will work with councillors to address the needs of each community and to ensure that everyone knows what they need to do in the run up to switchover next year. Events will be held in Shetland Isles, Orkney, Western Isles, Highland, Moray, Aberdeen and Shire, Dundee, Angus, North Fife, Argyll and Bute (northern part) as well as Perth and Kinross.


Eligibility for the Help Scheme is now open in STV North. A television and print advertising campaign to raise awareness of help available to older and disabled people in the area has been launched. Eligible people living in the region will receive an information pack that will explain how they can get extra help to convert one TV in their home in time for switchover and will invite people to apply for the help available. It sets out the standard offer which is available for £40, or free, as well as offering a range of other ways to go digital. As part of the programme of activity, stakeholders will be contacted, and TV and radio advertising will become more prominent.


Freeview has completed an upgrade to its service to ensure Five is as widely available as the other main terrestrial channels after switchover. Key changes were also made to the network to prepare for the launch of HD services. Freeview viewers were required to retune their equipment from lunchtime on 30 September to continue receiving all channels in their area.

Following the changes, 500,000 existing Freeview homes are now able to receive Five for first time. ITV3 and ITV4, however, will no longer be broadcast from relay transmitters. Viewers in need of advice on retuning can visit or call an automated helpline on 08456 051122.


Viewers across Scotland are getting the urge to go digital in their kitchens and bedrooms. Latest research from Ofcom (to June 2009) reveals 70 per cent of all secondary TV sets across the UK have now been converted, up 15 percentage points on this time last year. In total, 80 per cent of the UK’s 60 million sets are now connected to a multichannel TV service.

Virgin Media services in Tait’s Lane : an update

At the end of last month, I advised that a constituent in Tait’s Lane had contacted me about an anomaly in terms of the provision of cable TV in the area.  Go to to view the earlier story.

Her block of flats – pictured above – unlike others in the lane – cannot receive Virgin Media services and I contacted Virgin about this. The company promised to look into the viability of extending services to the households currently without access to Virgin services in the lane and yesterday, along with two residents, I met with two Virgin Media representatives in Tait’s Lane to discuss the matter further.
Unfortunately, due to the need to cable from Hawkhill to the south along the lane digging up the roadway, Virgin Media is of the view that at present extending the service to the flats concerned would not be commercially viable although the company did promise to review this in the future.
Meantime, I have contacted Fibrecity, currently installing a city wide fibre optic network through the sewer system, to see if it will be possible to provide cable television services through the Fibrecity network for those Tait’s Lane residents who cannot receive Virgin TV services at present.

STV North TV region gets Switched On to Switchover Help Scheme

Here’s an update from John MacNeil, Assistant National Manager – STV North, Digital UK received yesterday regarding the digital TV switchover and the Help Scheme :

“More than 190,000 older and disabled people in the STV North region will be entitled to practical help to switch over to digital. The Switchover Help Scheme is run by the BBC through an agreement with the Government to help eligible older and disabled people to make the switch to digital on one of their TV sets.

The Help Scheme has launched a television and print advertising campaign to raise awareness of the help available to older and disabled people so they can continue to watch their favourite television programmes after switchover. The Help Scheme will also be running local activity and poster advertising campaigns and Help Scheme events in the lead up to switchover. The Help Scheme is also working alongside Digital UK and with local charities and organisations to spread the word. More information can be found with the recent press release (see

Eligible people in the STV North TV region will be offered a Freeview set top box for £40, or free if they also get income benefits. The help also includes installation if requested, a demonstration of how to use the equipment, an aerial check and upgrade if necessary for those that own their own aerials and a free help line to ring for advice while they get used to it.

There are many ways to go digital and additional Help Scheme options are available at extra cost – these are set out in the options guide sent to eligible people. The Help Scheme will write to all those who are eligible, starting with the islands as a distinct mailing burst to allow installers to complete installations within a fixed window of time.

The Switchover Help Scheme has appointed Luke McCullough as its National Manager, Scotland.”

The digital Help Scheme’s website is at

That Freeview retune …

Last week, TV viewers throughout Scotland were asked to retune their Freeview TVs and boxes to continue receiving all of the channels available in their area.

The retune was required due to an “upgrade” to the service that was supposed to ensure that “Five” became more widely available  and to prepare the way for the launch of HD services.

I have had a number of constituents (and a gentleman from Gowrie Park, across the ward boundary into Lochee Ward) contact me to say that the net effect of the retune was the loss of Channel Five!      However, if you retune again, Five should reappear.

A new website to help viewers with retuning has been launched at The site includes over 300 instruction manuals, a BBC video on retuning and answers to frequently asked questions – and is really useful.

I have been speaking with Scott at, an excellent initiative for the city.

Here’s an update has sent me :
The Dundee Channel at is an internet based TV station which through the high speed internet can offer local people news and features about the local area on their PCs, laptops and iphones.
Though yet to prove itself commercially viable, it is based on business models in the US. The channel has a secret weapon in his line up many businesses (especially in the West End) contributed to a video project at the turn of the century (when the internet was still running on dial up) – so the channel actually has a 3600 hour library of video to begin with.
However the internet is not quite like TV. Viewers want specific information delivered in 3 to 10 minute clips and the average web browser has an attention span of only 2 minutes. Visitors are currently spending over 5 minutes on the site and the channel is aiming for the 20 minutes or more enjoyed by the likes of You Tube.
Aiming to become the number one digital portal for Dundee, the channel already attracts 2000 visits a day – 96% from the local area.
Finally, whlist the channel is being entrusted with the reputation of local companies it will obviously be judged on it’s programme output and the channel is looking towards providing high quality output across its news and features to build local confidence in the brand.

BBC digital switchover help scheme

Later today, I met with two senior representatives of the BBC digital switchover help scheme to discuss ways in which elderly and disabled people in the West End can be assisted with the digital TV switchover, taking place in Dundee and Tayside next summer.
I met with Alan Moore, the Switchover Help Scheme Manager for Scotland and Colin Scott, the Scheme’s regional project co-ordinator for Tayside, to be briefed on the details of the help scheme for elderly and disabled people to ensure that no residents are left with blank TV screens after analogue TV signals are ended across Tayside in mid 2010.
The help scheme allows those aged over 75 and those on certain disability benefits a low-cost way of converting to digital TV including the equipment and full installation – to remove any worries about losing TV reception. For many on low incomes, the service is entirely free of charge and today’s meeting was useful to get the full details of the scheme from its senior managers. I am anxious that all elderly and disabled constituents get full advantage of the scheme which has been set up and is being run by the BBC.
I am advised that all people who qualify for this useful help scheme to convert to digital television will be automatically sent information about it, probably starting next January – in plenty time before the old analogue TV signals are switched off in the summer of next year. However, there will be other publicity to ensure people are made aware of the scheme and I have specifically invited BBC digital switchover help scheme representatives to come to the community fayre being run as part of the West End Christmas Week later this year as it will be an ideal opportunity to discuss the benefits of the scheme with local people in Dundee’s West End.
The digital Switchover Help Scheme is being run by the BBC, under an agreement with government. More information is available at or by phoning 0800 40 85 900.

TV issues – surgeries well attended yesterday

The meetings with Digital UK that I chaired at some of the sheltered housing complexes in the West End yesterday, to allow constituents to raise complaints and concerns about TV reception – and on the issue of the digital switchover – proved extremely successful with over 120 residents attending. Actually 123 residents and a lovely, well-behaved dog! See pictures below.

I am indebted to Alan Cowie, the former Grampian TV presenter – who spoke at the meetings. Alan is assisting Digital UK’s effort to liaise with people to ensure that their TV and digital questions are addressed and answered. He is excellent at covering the issues and engaging with the audience. Many elderly people in particular had questions about how they ensure they continue to receive television reception after the switchover and it was appropriate to hold these meetings at sheltered housing lounges in the area.

Digital UK are the experts regarding the digital switch-over and what I found particularly useful for the explanation of the Digital Help Scheme which aims to help those aged 75 and over and persons with disabilities get digital equipment and installation at little or no cost, a scheme being led by the BBC. It seems like a very good scheme for elderly and disabled people and it is important that residents are given full information about it in advance of the switch-off of the old analogue television signals in summer 2010.

As a result of the meetings today, I have taken up some individuals’ TV reception complaints and am – as always – pleased to assist any other West End residents with them.

Above : Alan speaking to Pennycook Court residentsAbove : Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing meetingAbove : The meeting at Blackness CourtAbove : The doggie audience!

Meetings about television issues

Following a deluge of complaints about TV reception from constituents and many questions about the digital TV switchover, taking place in the summer of next year – as reported in tonight’s “Evening Telegraph” – I have organised six meetings on Wednesday of this week at some of the sheltered housing complexes in the West End.

The meetings will allow local residents to raise complaints and concerns about TV reception and on the issue of the digital switchover with John MacNeil, Digital UK’s Assistant National Manager for Scotland. Many elderly people in particular have questions about how they ensure to continue to receive television reception after the switchover and it seems highly appropriate to hold these meetings at sheltered housing lounges.

I am grateful to Digital UK for taking part in the local meetings this week. Their expertise will help residents with any TV reception and digital switchover issues they wish to raise. Digital UK are the experts regarding the digital switch-over and will be there to provide advice to any resident with questions about the impending changes and help that is available.

There have been many TV reception issues raised with me recently and I felt it would be helpful to allow residents in the West End to speak with the experts directly.

The meetings take place this Wednesday (24th June) at the following locations:

10.15am Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge
11.00am Pennycook Court Sheltered Lounge
11.45am Blackness Court Sheltered Lounge
12.30pm Paton’s Lane Sheltered Lounge
1.15pm Tullideph Sheltered Lounge
2.00pm Corso Street Sheltered Lounge

New evidence of public support for local television

As regular readers of will be aware, I have been actively involved in the campaign to progress local television provision across Scotland, something that becomes possible because of the digital switchover. See more at
Dr Dave Rushton of the Institute of Local Television (on behalf the Scottish Local TV Federation) has recently drawn to my attention the findings of two public surveys conducted in the Spring indicating the character and extent of interest in receiving local TV from Scotland. The surveys – one in the south of Scotland, the other Scotland-wide – show strong support from the public for local TV, which is extremely heartening and it is to be hoped that both government and Ofcom react positively to that demand.
These surveys confirm the demand identified independently in the TNS System Three survey ‘Public Attitudes to Broadcasting’ conducted in 2008 – this can be downloaded by going to

Digital TV meeting

I had a very useful meeting with John MacNeil, Digital UK’s Assistant National Manager for Scotland to discuss the recent TV reception problems locally and the forthcoming ‘digital switchover’ – if you go to you can read the report on this in tonight’s “Evening Telegraph.”
John & I are holding “Digital TV Surgeries” during June at various sheltered housing lounges in the West End, to explain to residents the digital switchover issues and the help scheme for elderly and disabled people.

Freeview update … what your TV licence should but might not get you …

Last night’s “Evening Telegraph” (see gave readers an update on the recent TV reception issues (and my meeting this week with Digital UK).

It also highlighted a long-standing concern of mine that – even when all transmitters finally transmit digital signals (the relay transmitters currently don’t) – the intention is to provide a reduced “Freeview Lite” service from transmitters like the Tay Bridge relay transmitter after 2010 – giving residents only 22 of the 58 TV and radio channels that others served by main transmitters (like the Angus transmitter which serves most of the north of the city) will get.
If you go to, my earlier update on this matter from just over a year ago gives some more of the background on this. The bottom line on this, I think is that TV licence payers are all entitled to the same number and quality of service and that principle has been breached – I view this as unacceptable.

More on television reception problems …

I am pleased at the latest response from Digital UK regarding the numerous television reception problems I have raised on behalf of local people – affecting many viewers who get their TV signals from the Angus transmitter at Tealing, particularly those watching Freeview.   The issue is covered in tonight’s ‘Evening Telegraph’ – go to to view the article.


I have been in discussions this week with Digital UK’s Assistant National Manager for Scotland following a mass of complaints about the quality of TV reception and, as a result, the Digital UK representative has agreed to investigate the issues affecting any individual who is experiencing reception problems.

Digital UK’s Assistant National Manager for Scotland has now said that where a resident gives me permission to pass on their contact details to him with detail of their reception problems, he is willing to look into their specific reception problems, which is I think is a helpful response.

He is also gathering details for me of impending work on the Angus transmitter in the run-up to the digital switch-over next year which will reduce the strength of the signal temporarily. It is important that there is good public information about this and I am pleased that Digital UK accepts this.
What is clear is that the digital signal is not at full strength at the moment as this would apparently interfere with the traditional analogue signals. I am assured that, after the old analogue service is switched off at the digital switchover, the digital signal strength will be increased permanently. That said, this does not happen until next year, so I am pleased that Digital UK is showing a willingness to look into residents’ complaints now.
If you wish a specific problem passed on to Digital UK, you can do so by calling me on 459378 or e-mailing

TV problems – update

An update on Monday’s blog entry on the TV reception problems : Last night’s “Evening Telegraph” (see carried an article about the matter, and Digital UK’s response.
There was a further update in today’s “Courier” – I have been in correspondence with Paul Hughes, National Manager for Scotland for Digital UK. Digital UK had no obvious solution at hand for the poor TV reception but Paul has offered to raise the matter with his broadcast team, although he felt that it may be a matter best resolved via Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator. I have already been in touch with Ofcom and have had an initial response from their Spectrum Customer Support Team as follows :

“I have passed this on to our interference team, who will be able to do a possible investigation for you and any information that they may know about this transmitter.”

Paul Hughes at Digital UK has also offered to check out specific postcodes for any localised problems.

I have made the point that the extent of the problems is such that there clearly is an issue with the Angus transmitter – I have had calls from people living as far away as Perth and the one thing virtually all people who have complained about the issue have in common is that they receive their TV pictures from the Angus transmitter, the main TV transmitter for the area, sited near Tealing. I am continuing to pursue the issue on behalf of residents.

I should also add that – aside from this particular reception issue – Digital UK has offered to attend a community public meeting in the West End to update residents on the digital TV switchover as it is now becoming quite close. The organisation has previously spoken to West End Community Council some time ago and I will certainly be taking up their offer as there are clearly a lot of issues residents have with the TV changes that are upcoming.

Dundee TV problems

I recently highlighted complaints from constituents in parts of the West End about reduced and poor television reception in recent weeks, and have since had been inundated over the past week with feedback from people in the West End and from across the city about the issue. Today’s Courier covers the issue – see

As indicated in the Courier article, it is very clear that there is an issue about the quality of TV signals for many people – particularly affecting ITV1 and Channel 4 reception and, for Freeview viewers who receive signals from the Angus transmitter near Tealing, also some digital channels such as ITV3.

I had previously spoken with Arqiva, the company that owns and manages TV transmitters across the UK, and, although they accept that there may be some disruption to services nearer to the time of the switch-over from analogue to digital, they assured me that there should be no disruption for Angus and Tay Bridge transmitter’s viewers at the moment.


There is, however, engineering work on-going at the Craigkelly transmitter, resulting in breaks in service and possible poor reception, although only a minority of viewers in Dundee get their TV signals from this transmitter situated in Fife.

However, it is very apparent from the dozens of calls I have received from local people that there is indeed some form of reduced power problem from Angus transmitter resulting in poorer reception on some channels for many viewers.

I have therefore raised the matter with Digital UK, who are charged with ensuring a smooth switchover from analogue to digital only signals, due in our area next year. Given the extent of the TV licence cost nowadays, at the very least people should expect good quality reception, not continual poor pictures or interruptions in programmes.

Interestingly, having been down in Sussex over the weekend, I had a read of the English edition of the ‘Sunday Express’ which led on the very issue of poor TV reception caused by the digital switchover – go to to view.