Half a million to be without signal after switchover, says CSA chief

About half a million French homes could find themselves outside regions reached by digital-terrestrial TV when the country switches off its analogue broadcasts in 2011, according to Alain Méar, vice-president of media regulator the CSA.

Méar told French parliamentarians worried about the impact of switchover that about 500,000 homes could be affected. The parliamentarians’ concerns have already led to a suspension of the examination of a text on the digital divide. Béar and CSA president Michel Boyon were questioned about concerns that up to 1.3 million households could lose their TV signals, based on figures supplied by transmission services provider TDF. Méar said that the 500,000 figure was more realistic and pointed out that the number could be reduced by increasing the power at transmitters serving 150,000 homes in mountainous regions.

While a 2007 law has specified that DTT must reach 95% of the French population, and the CSA has adopted a rule that signals must reach 91% of the population of each individual department, a number of politicians have expressed concern that fewer people in their own regions will be able to view digital TV than were able to receive analogue transmissions.