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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spectrum and UK Budget 2007

I don’t know if anyone else’s ears pricked up when Gordo mentioned Spectrum in his budget statement. The context was related to the government raising money from asset sales.

£36bn of asset sales less £18bn already announced gives £18bn of new asset sales in the next three years from 2008/9 onwards. £6bn of this involves taking the Student Loans off-UK plc balance sheet and £12bn is made up of new spectrum sales / financial & corporate sales. No further breakdown was given, but the governmnet seems to taking the every little bit helps approach.

In the Red Book Budget pdf's - there is a reference in section 6.43 that the government has published today "A Forward Look" of spectrum availability.

Basically this is the refarming of spectrum used predominately by the MOD and other agencies, but the trouble is that this spectrum is not in "internationally" recognised bands and therefore will be worth a lot less than for instance: gsm, 3g, uhf, vhf, l-band spectrum.

Furthermore it is said that the spectrum availability will be announced at the time of the comprehensive spending reviews of the departments for the 3 years for 2008/9 onwards, therefore it is all subject to the normal horse-trading rules that go on in the public sector.

In summary, Gordo will probably need every MHz of the Digital Dividend Review and L Band Spectrum to get a good price to realise some decent cash from spectrum sales and therefore the possibility of the beeb and the rest of the public service broadcasters getting the taxpayers spectrum for "free" for HD services is reduced.

It won't stop them trying though: the beeb got its begging bowl out yesterday for 33% of the Digital Dividend Revenue basically stating some report that not giving the beeb free spectrum would cause £4.1bn to £15.5bn of private and social losses.

This should be music to ITV, five’s and anyone else interested on commercial broadcasting ears because as commercial enterprises they can go ahead and bid for the spectrum and somehow should still manage to create economic value for their shareholders. Unless of course, the report is a bit of a dodgy dossier and the beeb know all about the damage that dodgy dossiers can create – the beeb is promising publishing the dossier at some future later date – I wait with baited breath!!